Food: 8 Drink: 8 Atmosphere: 8 Overall: 8
Tucked away from the Triangle in Berkley Square, Square Members’ Club is a lovely little find. The road off the Triangle opens up into some of the most elegant of Clifton's architecture. As Winter rolls in, best to tuck yourself away from the cold weather with a glass of wine and a hearty meal in the warm retreat that is Square Club.
The Square Club is classy and cosy, with a comfortable reception lounge, good lighting and smart, trendy décor. The clientele Square Club brings in is a real mix, making for a slightly unusual but fun atmosphere. The restaurant and hotel attract an older, wealthier customer- it’s the kind of place you’d feel safe taking your parents for supper, but beneath the restaurant lies Square’s function room and secret garden. Putting on a range of events throughout the week, members go free while non-members pay a small admission fee. Wine tasting, poetry reading and creative writing seem to kick off the week, while towards the weekends live music, club nights and LGBTQ events take over. It’s probably worth checking on their website to find out what events are on if you are planning to go to Square, as the vibe can change considerably depending on what going on in the Members’ room downstairs.
Square Club’s menu has been really well put together this Autumn, combining some delicate touches with warm, hearty mains. Seared scallops sitting in a pea mousse surrounded with pulled ham hock really stands out among the starters. The beautiful scallops sourced from Cornwall are complimented perfectly by the salty, meatiness of the ham hock, yet kept light with the freshness of mousse and pea shoots garnish. It’s a classic dish done very well. The carrot gnocchi is a tasty vegetarian alternative, while the duck liver mousse with fig and crispy chicken skin provides a more meaty alternative.
The mains offer a real selection of refined British dishes, changing according to seasonality of ingredients that Square can source. Roast partridge has just come on to the menu, supported by baby fennel, a cassoulet and cherry jus. The shortrib of beef is a wonderful Winter warmer, with a succulent cut of slow cooked beef falling of the bone, an earthy ragout of mushroom, carrots and pancetta, and a filling buttery, herby mash potato. Similarly the slow roasted lamb shank with root vegetables and sweet potato dauphinoise is a comforting, fulsome dish that makes you forget the cold weather outside (and any pretence of a diet). For lighter dishes, the pan-fried cod with cauliflower and salsify is a tasty choice, while the vegetarian butternut squash lasagne continues the Autumnal, earthy theme. Perhaps the only slight blight on the make-up of the dishes and the menu is the lack of fresh veg to cut through some of the heavier numbers. Few of the dishes come with sufficient veg to complete them, and of the sides only tender stem broccoli offers a fresh option.
Particular note should go the house favourite- the classic steak and chips. Devon Red rib-eye, T-bone, Cot de Boeuf, OR Chateaubriand cuts are available, sourced from the West Country via Clifton’s Ruby and White butchers. Thinking Cowshed? Think again. Square (and all of Square’s sister restaurants) are getting the same cuts of beef as Cowshed, serving the same steak and chips, but at a slightly less eye-watering price. It is literally the same product for less.
To accompany your steak, only a good, big red will do, and the wine selection certainly delivers. There more than enough choice to accompany any dishes you choose, with a balanced selection from nice, affordable wine by the bottle or glass, to some of the finer wines for the connoisseur.
The pudding selection makes for easy reading too. Pistachio cake with lime mousse and a chocolate tuille really takes the biscuit, although it is hard pushed by a line up consisting of a chocolate fondant with salt caramel and ice cream, and a warming poached pear with white chocolate. For the traditional among you, the British cheeseboard offers a pairing to finish with your wine.
The Square Club is a busy little hub in the beautiful Berkley Square. Come here for good food and the lively atmosphere- with so much going on you don't know quite how your night will end up, but it's sure to be fun along the way!