Library is a discreet private member’s club conveniently situated opposite London Coliseum in Covent Garden. In fact, it is in close proximity to countless theatres in the West End. Apart from obviously providing books, it is a fascinating venue which provides food, drinks, accommodation, wellness and an eclectic programme including jazz nights and book launches.
We went along to check out their dining options at St Luke’s kitchen, which allows non-members to visit subject to availability. On the way down to the restaurant, you will see a stunning stained glass depiction of Saint Luke, who was the patron saint of artists, bookbinders, brewers, butchers and stained glass makers. The decor inside the restaurant is suitably dim and atmospheric. It is a thoughtful touch to leave a book for each diner on the dining table. Although I am not sure, how much reading gets done in the restaurant. Perhaps they should leave a cooking book with the kitchen’s recipes?
Their tasting menu offering is a bargain starting from £35 for 5 courses. Although tasting menus do sometimes imply haute cuisine; whilst the food is carefully crafted here, I wouldn’t quite categorise it as haute cuisine.
The first course was a very refreshing rice crisps brandade using high-quality crab meat and beautifully flavoured with soy caramel and lime. There are clear signs of oriental touches throughout head chef, Daniel Petitta’s menu. A common theme throughout the menu was also expertly judged tastes and textures but the presentation could have done with more work. Leek souffle, onion and stilton, fleshed mushroom had a great variety of textures and flavours especially for a vegetarian dish, but the colours and the arrangement were lacking slightly in aesthetic appeal.
There are plenty of experimental work on show here. A well-marinated and grilled beef is served in a shallow, celeriac soup which was no doubt slowly cooked for many hours and served with an extremely delicate, soft tasting Jerusalem artichoke. I can think of many reasons why this dish shouldn’t work, but then again I am not a head chef at a top private member’s club.
Fish soup using XO sauce which is a spicy seafood sauce from Hong Kong is another winner in terms of taste. There are a variety of fish like salmon to add to the intense, richness of the soup along with one of my favourite seafood, oysters. Although going along with the oriental theme, maybe they can try using dried oysters, which have even stronger flavours?
The menu is very much work-in-progress, but starting at an affordable £35pp, this is one private member’s club we should all be visiting regularly.