Where To Go When You Can't Get Into Sessions Arts Club

Places that’ll help you forget the fact you wanted to be riding the lift up to Sessions Arts Club.
Where To Go When You Can't Get Into Sessions Arts Club image

photo credit: Michael Sinclair

In a Grade II-listed building on Clerkenwell Green you’ll find a restaurant. A towering, beautiful, balconied restaurant of the most Condé Nast proportions, home to flickering candle flames and charming staff who serve nonchalantly elegant food made for swilling and seducing over. It’s called Sessions Arts Club, and you probably can’t get a reservation there. Neither can we—so we made a list of great alternatives.


photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch



$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsBirthdaysBusiness MealsCorporate CardsDinner with the ParentsEating At The Bar


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Despite its OTT feel on paper (read: pool table, whisky vending machine, live sports, and a portrait of Marion), Brigadiers is a restaurant that everyone can get down with. The Indian barbecue spot is smack bang in The City and is more appealing than a gilet to most around here. That said, take a seat in one of its numerous mahogany, leather-clad booths and you’ll find that this is a restaurant that’s very easy to lean into. If the espresso martinis on tap don’t get you, then the beef and bone marrow biryani will. And if you want to play pool surrounded by oil portraits of Thierry Henry and other footballing greats, then why not?

It’s all very well and good having art line the walls of a restaurant, but having a Picasso or two to look at while you eat lobster pie is just a cut above, isn’t it? That appears to be the thought process behind Mount St. Restaurant. And it’s not far off the mark. Owned by the same people as Hauser & Wirth gallery, this showy British restaurant—in, you guessed it, Mayfair—is an aesthete’s dream. Everything from the faintly salacious Paul McCarthy salt and pepper shakers to the multi-coloured, terrazzo floor is a work of art. As you absorb all this, take a bite of your absurdly indulgent omelette Arnold Bennett and look over at a Matisse opposite you. It’s silly, but very satisfying.

Hours melt to minutes at Maison François. Partly because of the quintessential St. James’s service, the delightful circumflex-covered menu, and warm orange glow of the art deco dining room. But also because this all-day brasserie has a dessert trolley that gets wheeled around like sugared royalty. If there’s ever been a more seductive way to convince us to get a luxurious sweet treat, we’re yet to find it. Once you’ve dedicated three hours to jambon noir de Bigorre, gravity-defying paris-brest aux noisettes, and dissecting the lives of everyone you went to university with, keep the Bordeaux flowing at the moody downstairs bar a vin, Frank’s

Morchella is an airy Mediterranean restaurant and wine bar in Clerkenwell, full of stylish design touches that will make you look at your Ikea Brimnes shelves with uncontrollable self-loathing. Unusual for a restaurant this good-looking is that it also brings style and substance together at pretty much every juncture. The green-tiled kitchen counter, with its nifty fold-out stools and views of the candlelit room and chefs, is the perfect place to acquaint yourself with a menu of sharing plates. Snack on wonderful spanakopita or juicy mussel pil pil, and swill a glass of cloudy Greek wine. Bigger plates, like salt-baked poussin, are perfect for one of the cushy booths at the back.

When you walk into Sessions Arts Club’s dining room, you can’t help but be wowed. When you walk into The Midland Grand Dining Room, you feel like you’re cosplaying as a member of the French aristocracy. Almost nothing about this brasserie inside the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in King’s Cross is low-key. The room could house a family of well-to-do giraffes and the only kind of chameleon that could blend in here would be one with a taste for 24 carat gold. It should come as no surprise that the food here is rich, but it’s also elegantly flavoured. The parmesan fritters wear coppa fascinators and there’s a lemon meringue baked alaska to share. Of course, the crowd might be more Tatler than Vogue, but if it’s a palatial room you’re after, this one won’t be topped.

Decimo is a high-fashion restaurant that has aptly hosted many big-deal fashion events and is, well, high in the sky due to its 10th floor location at The Standard, London hotel in King's Cross. This is where you should go when you want to eat a caviar-covered tortilla under the guise of ‘baby deserves a treat’. Don’t skip the tacos, margaritas, or opportunity to have your catwalk moment strutting across the Spanish-Mexican restaurant—call ahead and request one of the corner, top-view tables.

Part of Sessions’ drama lies in its artfully distressed walls, flickering candles, and general aura that a modern day Miss Havisham would hold up the bar here. Brunswick House in Vauxhall has more light bulbs than a lighting showroom, but they’re dramatic chandeliers and the rustic Georgian mansion setting feels like this is where Miss Havisham lives. The menu, with British dishes like courgette fritters with coconut yoghurt, crab egg noodles, and a burrata omelette, all mean that you’ll have a memorable meal in a romance novel-worthy setting.

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