We're trying the house cocktails, a Spicy 50 (vanilla vodka, elderflower, lime, honey and chilli), a Japanese Peach Tree (Yamazaki whisky and peach), and the unofficial Playboy signature cocktail, Bunny Bubbles (champagne and raspberry). They are amongst the best cocktails I've ever had, perfectly balanced, no rough edges what so ever. In the Japanese Peach Tree, it's hard to believe there's whisky in it, the components are seamlessly blended and the drink has taken on an identity all of its own.
We're taking a moment after our tour of the club, conducted by VIP Bunny Host, Bunny Sara, who is charming and intelligent in equal measure. Work in progress for this tour, the old nightclub area of the building is being refurbished and replaced with a vintage champagne bar (Baroque) that is to open soon. Then there's the 'Player's Lounge' a general and sports bar with a casual atmosphere and a bit of noise drifting through from the adjacent gaming floor: as a club and holder of a gambling licence, there's an active casino with Blackjack and Roulette as the main games. Three card poker is played though sadly no Texas Hold'em, but perhaps that's for the best in saving me a small fortune on the night. There's the Dining Room, more of that shortly, and an outside terrace for smokers.
And while it is a private members club, it is at times open to non members also with The Dining Room open to the broader public every day for lunch, with the three course set menu including a glass of wine/champagne priced at a very reasonable £35. Worth mentioning, in case your minds are going there, it's a proper Mayfair club and there's no 'funny business' taking place within the club. While the Bunnies act as croupiers and will shuttle drinks for you while you are gaming, in the restaurant there are no Bunnies and it is male waiters who will be bringing you your food.
The menu at The Dining Room is extensive and varied for the clientèle here is both diverse and significantly international as Playboy Club members can use clubs across the world. Chef Judy with both Asian and American heritage brings these strands together well with her classic Ramsay French training culminating in a menu of broad appeal. Indeed, narrowing your food choices down to a manageable level is the hardest part, and most kindly, Chef Judy allowed us to try a few extras so we wouldn't miss out.
Elsewhere, an Asian style steak tartar brought Scottish beef together with Nashi pear and sesame soy dressing, pine nuts, garlic, ginger, mirin, pepper, lemon and salt served alongside black pepper prawn crackers. Having eaten all together too many steak tartars for recent blog posts, this was a welcome change up from the norm which is very much what Chef Judy does here, that is, putting her very personal touch and style in to familiar things and making it a little different, but never spoiling the essence.
An unmistakable Chef Judy dish is the Bo Ssam Buns being a steamed bun generously stuffed with thinly sliced pork belly, ginger and garlic marinade, cucumber and spring onions. This is a variation of a traditional Korean dish where the pork is wrapped in lettuce. The buns, made famous by Korean American Chef David Chang are huge in the States and Chef Judy has now brought them here. While we demonstrate initial curiosity - this is my first Bo Ssam after all - it takes again only a bite to realise this is an old friend with a new twist and thegorgeous Bo Ssam was soon demolished.
The lasagne of Dorset crab with shellfish cappuccino is a signature dish of Michelin starred The Square and since enjoying it there back in 2010, I've been pretty much disappointed with every seafood lasagne tried subsequently. On one level then, I think I chose the dish here at Playboy Club knowing that it would given the kitchen a stern test against a ridiculously accomplished benchmark, but again, they came through with flying colours and no complaints from me. A very well realised dish, I'd even go so far as to say that I'll dream about this Poseidon of lasagnes from time to time.
Given how full we already were, the empty plate that was returned to the kitchen says it all.
The environment is more inclusive than you might imagine and we saw both couples and all women parties enjoying themselves on our midweek visit there. Membership details can be found on the website if you want to enjoy everything the club has to offer or, as noted, facilities within the club are open to non members everyday for lunch. In conclusion, we enjoyed a truly first class night in an environment that is deadly serious about the customer experience but that is laced with good humour throughout, and we will undoubtedly return in the future.
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Disclosure: given the sensitive nature of cameras in a private members' casino, our visit was agreed in advance with management and a discount to our final bill was kindly given by the club.