On the radar of every eclectic diner worldwide is a Pret A Diner, a collective of culinary and design geniuses whose latest project has just opened in London. So last week, our London finest a little bedraggled in dismal October weather, Caroline Stephens and I made our way to The Burlington Social Club at The Royal Academy of Arts.
Met by a cheerful bohemian gent at the base of the grand staircase at 6 Burlington Gardens, we ascend the steps to meet the painfully edgy team of Pret A Diner, the ingenious collaborative headed by KP Kofler who brings together some of the world’s most talented chefs and mixologists to devise unique dining experiences in niche venues around the world with conceptual neon artist Olivia Steele.
Already this year, Pret A Diner has created pop-up restaurants in Berlin, Monaco and London’s 50 St James’s Street, and whilst The Burlington Social Club was WAN’s first experience of Pret A Diner’s canny design, it is difficult to believe it can be topped elsewhere in the city.
With our editorial offices in the bohemian haven that is Brighton (UK) it is rare that we are made breathless by eclectic beauty having seen pretty much every form of ‘miscellaneous’ design, but with The Burlington Social Club we’re willing to make an exception.
The 2,685 sq ft Senate Rooms have been transformed from their elaborate, gilded glory into an explosion of treats for the senses by a large scaffolding installation within which the kitchen is enclosed. Shimmying around the edges to our stools at the restaurant bar, we couldn’t help but gaze wide-eyed at the feats of imaginative Michelin starred cuisine accompanied by frothing drinks or elegant champagne cocktails.
5.44m-high, moulded ceilings are the perfect backdrop for the industrial feel fashioned by Pret A Diner’s inventive scaffolding contraption. A members-only experience, Burlington Social Club offers a refined menu of exquisite plates with an accompanying cocktail for each course.
To start, I indulged in a tomato and mozzarella risotto which was paired with one of the oddest cocktails I’ve ever encountered: rum, pimento, chocolate, Bitter’s, PX, protein and cinnamon, supped through a straw piercing a hollowed egg shell.
Next up was a medley of larger-than-life prawns and chorizo popcorn with baby squid and a tequila-based cocktail which was surprisingly refreshing, and my colleague and I rounded off the meal with a bitter chocolate sorbet encased in chocolate mousse and drizzled with rosemary crumble.
Grapefruit and champagne cocktails washed this down as we were welcomed into the adjoining club lounge, a dream-like space furnished with equally diverse elements such as a four-poster bed crafted from scaffolding poles and draped with vintage cloth, the mattress shielded with sumptuous furs. Kestrels and owls stare fixedly from perches on their scaffolding frames, keeping their beady eyes on the dining elite.
Indulgent, entertaining and infinitely quirky, The Burlington Social Club by Pret A Diner is one of the finest dining experiences WAN has ever encountered. A blend of exquisite food, eccentric design and unique cocktails, Burlington Social Club is a triumph of creative passion.