Food Review: The Playboy Club
The Playboy Club
IN A NUTSHELL
If you're looking for a lunch venue with a touch of the surreal then this private members club is perfect.
A tension exists at the heart of the Playboy Club. On the one hand, it must contend with the public perception of the Playboy brand.
The shell pink bunny logo is emblazoned on pencil cases, the metallic rumps of Vauxhall Corsas steaming through Essex, exposed shoulders and on the rear of supposedly titillating panties.
I'm not sure where it came from, but there's even a mug in my house bearing Hefner's mark.
But the club, which has opened up its creatively named Dining Room Restaurant to non-members for lunch, is straining its mooring posts.
There's a real sense this high-roller casino is straining to break free of what its brand has become and sail majestically back into a hazy nostalgic fug of glamorous women, sophistication and the cream of literary talent.
The kind of place you'd bump into Vonnegut rubbing up against Lessing, Atwood and Wodehouse (all published by the magazine in its heyday).
So the walls are adorned with images of bunny girls past rather than the current crop who occasionally whoop from the casino floor when tipped by a gentleman player as we sit down to lunch, just off the gaming hall. You won't know where to look.
The bunnies are restricted to the bar and casino tables however and we're handed the American-flavoured menus by members of the (covered) dining team.
Not a large space, the room is heavy on the padded leather, providing a comfort-laden area for gamblers to re-fuel and members to entertain at greater length.
Executive chef Judy Joo has created a blend of hearty staples (including the Hef Burger, which apparently he never eats) and dishes of greater finesse expertly bookmatched with wine by the restaurant's manager, who used to work for Gordon Ramsay.
The quality is something of a surprise but I really would cross London on foot for the steak tartare.
If you don't fancy a la carte, the restaurant is offering a three-course lunch and a glass of wine or champagne for £35.
Non-members can book in each day for lunch only between 12-4pm by calling 020 7491 8586.
The Playboy Club London, 14 Old Park Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 1ND, playboyclublondon.com.