Opening a restaurant inside a former courthouse sounds like a solid idea…
…but we’ll let you be the judge of that.
Although one thing is undeniable – it makes for a stunningly atmospheric setting, as the multi-talented creative superteam behind Sessions Arts Club has proven.
The venue is up on the fourth floor of an 18th century Grade II listed courthouse – one of the most important in England, at the time – offsetting its peeling plaster walls with painstakingly restored original details, from the soaring columns, to the arched windows that flood the place with light. And then, for contextual contrast, they’ve added in some modern art pieces throughout, like the Gabriele Beveridge sculptural piece dangling above the dining room, which comprises two pairs of disembodied silver legs.
It’s four feet above your head.
Being on the fourth floor means that the space can spread up to a mezzanine level, and then out onto the roof, too. And what a roof it is. Almost entirely surrounding the dining room, they’ve placed not one but three terraces with their own fireplaces, as well as a gorgeous rooftop bar made of white marble, a miniature garden, and an infinity pool looking out over the whole of East London. To say it was pretty, or nice, or even amazing would be something of an understatement.
It’s all thanks to the talent they’ve got behind the project. There’s artist Jonny Gent (he’s had solo shows in Los Angeles, New York & London), designer Russell Potter (who is responsible for the looks of Soho House, Polpo, etc.), show-runner Jon Spiteri (one of the founders of St. John), and the trump card in this deck: chef Florence Knight. Protégée to Raymond Blanc, she was head chef at Polpetto, and is generally considered to be wildly talented by pretty much everyone.
She’s scratch-making all the sauces, stocks, condiments, pastas, and whatnots to go into her broadly European menu. You’ll find dishes like delicately flavoured clam & turnip-top orecchiette; a hearty wedge of pork belly cooked with fennel & orange; or some rich, earthy lamb sweetbreads with lettuce & lovage. Then, for dessert, expect some inventive apricot ripple ice cream; a creamy ricotta & cherry tart; and a bracingly fresh nectarine sorbet.
And let’s not forget that is the Sessions Art Club, and they intend to see a new artistic opening of sorts “every week”. The extremely well-connected team have their buddies from the worlds of art, fashion, music, wellness and theatre come down to host all manner of events, from exhibitions, to “unique, engaging evenings”, and that’s on top of the many artworks which are scattered throughout the building. The place is basically crazy romantic.
In fact, when you think about it, the words ‘court house’ sounds a lot like slang for ‘date spot’…
NOTE: Sessions Arts Club is open for lunch and dinner, Wednesday to Friday. You can find out more, and book, here.
OTHER NOTE: There are a limited number of daily slots for the infinity pool. To book, or enquire about availability, simply email here.
Sessions Arts Club | The Old Sessions House, 22 Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0NA
Like nights out in old courthouses? Then you should pay a visit to the bar at Provisioners…