Does a former courthouse make a good setting for a restaurant?
We’ll let you be the judge of that.
But for our money, Sessions Arts Club – set on the fourth floor of an 18th century Grade II listed courthouse – is one of the most stunningly atmospheric restaurants to have opened in London for a while.
The Old Sessions House was the largest courthouse in England when it opened back in 1782. And after a lengthy refurbishment, the grande dame is still looking pretty impressive. The restaurant is a breathtaking blend of old and new, 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.
The fact that Sessions Arts Club has quickly become one of the hottest reservations in London is 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 scratch-makes 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.
Rooftop cocktails, incredible sharing plates, roaring fires… 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, Tuesday to Saturday. 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
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