TRADE Soho – London’s first members’ club for people in the hospitality industry – has announced that Mark Jarvis’ Anglo Restaurant has taken up residence within the venue, and will be accessible to non-members. We visit the familiar haunt to see how this new development has shaken things up.
We follow our practiced route down Old Compton Street, passing by the Prince Edward Theatre and G-A-Y bar, which are both getting their precursory evening bustle on. With Caffè Nero as our marker, we turn onto Frith Street and are immediately struck by the small yet striking changes to TRADE’s façade. The understated, almost secretive, doorway has been repainted to feature bold white stencils announcing “Cocktails Wine Food” and “Late Night Venue”. Two rope barrier are stationed akimbo to the entrance, with a tilted menu stand broadcasting Anglo’s arrival.
It’s immediately clear to us from this and the very fact that TRADE is inviting members of the public into the club that the less-than-a-year-old venue may not be doing quite as well as its owners had hoped. This is not overly surprising as its target audience of hospitality professionals aren’t exactly known for raking in the big bucks, however it is also not a novel notion for members’ clubs to have bookable public offerings, with Devonshire Club, The Curtain and many more doing likewise.
We wander down the steps and are greeted by the lovely Paola who takes us to our table in the “bar area” and introduces us to the floor manager, Margo. Inside, nothing much has changed. There are still dimly lit, golden alcoves hugged by banquettes, those angular Art Deco sofas where we we conduct most of our meetings, and dotted table seating throughout. The long sofa at the far end of the room has been removed to make way for a more formulated “restaurant area”, but other than that, there’s little to report.
Our eyes roam the bar menu and alight on two beauties – Tahona (Corte Vetusto Espadin, Scapa Whiskey, Fennel, Salted Maple Syrup, Fernet Branca, Applewood Smoke) and Melaza Old Fashion (Diplomatico Rum Reserve, Salted Molasses Syrup, Black Walnut Bitter Walnut Dust). One of our favourite mezcals, Corte Vetusto lends its Espadin to the Tahona, which is poured into our glass from a carafe containing apple-wood smoke. The first sip sings of rich agave before fragrant smoke comes forward, working with the darkly sweet maple aroma and bright whiskey. The end note returns to the robing roasted, smoked agave, trailing off into a gentle herbal, honey-like linger with a gentle wisp of smoke.
The Melaza Old Fashion’s aroma is weirdly reminiscent of rum and Coke, with salted molasses gravity. The taste is thick and gradually realised, coming up from the depths slowly but with purpose. Black walnut brings the aromatic woodiness, whilst the rum permits nutmeg spice and a deep, almost buttery character.
As enjoy our drinks, bar manager Alex Todini steps forward to introduce himself. Friendly and focused with an openly hospitable nature, he immediately makes us feel at home and free to roam at TRADE. Alex has been here since the opening in January, before which he worked as a bartender at Indian Accent in Mayfair. We’re instantly made agreeable to him as he interrupts us asking about his staff to correct us with the proper title “team”, before outlining his hiring ethos as looking for people with passion.
“Anyone can be trained up if they have that in-built desire and passion for the drinks industry and bartending. I always value passion above everything else.”
He tells us of his passion for wine and TRADE’s impressive Coravin cellar – the venue is owned by two Master Sommeliers, so you can expect great things.
“The cellar is our ‘Black Book’ for members only and I like to encourage them to go inside and have a look instead of having a wine list. We have a quick Chilla for Champagne or other things that need it if members want something unusual that’s not already in the fridge. Many of our members are sommeliers so it’s a nice thing to be able to show them.”
At his invitation, we go for a snoop and are greeted by shelves, fridges and boxes filled with a gorgeous selection of bottles from around the globe, each painted with a price. Somewhat overwhelmed with the fantastic choice on offer, we elect to leave our wine pairing to the professionals and wander over to our table to begin our Anglo experience.
Anglo @ TRADE Restaurant
The Anglo @ TRADE Tasting Menu, has been devised by head chef Anthony Raffo (previously of Texture, Pied à Terre, Stocks Hotel and Auberge du Lac) and features six-courses for £55 (£90 total for an added wine pairing). Also on offer is an extensive all-day menu of simple yet refined small plates, plus other à la carte dishes.
We opt for the Tasting Menu with Wine Pairing as well as an array of dishes from the regular menu and wait with excitement. The wonderfully welcoming and erudite floor manager, Margo, starts us off with glasses of Pierre Morey Bourgogne Chardonnay 2015 and Royal Tokaji Dry Furmint Vineyard Selection 2016. The Chardonnay is lightly honeyed with hints of peach, decent acidity and good length, whilst the Hungarian wine has a wonderfully smoky nose, complex texture, ripe gooseberry and apricot, lively acid and a memory of cold buttered toast. Soon afterwards, “Snacks” of Jerusalem Artichokes, Apple, Pear, Buckwheat (£9) and Fried Oysters, Tartare (£2.50 each) arrive.
Jerusalem artichoke is a seasonal delight. Roasted, rounded, moreish and simply amazing, you can’t go wrong with this humble tubur. The gently flavoured cream purée is thick and complimentary with an intriguingly funky flavour, whilst the buckwheat cracker has something of a vegan pork crackling. The lightly panto crumbed oysters are decadent bites, moreishly topped with tartare sauce and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon.
With those seen off, we dive into our warming intro of the gently funky Fermented Cauliflower Soup, Chive Oil, Buckwheat Crackers, quickly followed by Blowtorched Mackerel, Egg Yolk, Black Garlic, Carrot. Served as an elegant sliver, the beautifully cooked fish flakes into the luxurious yolk with hefty black garlic adding earthy depth and bright, lightly vinegared carrot purée creating balance.
Margo brings us a glasses of Dominio do Bibei “Lalama” Ribiera Sacra 2015. The Pinot is glorious on the nose, with a bouquet of ripe and baked blackberries, mixed berry yoghurt, cold vanilla custard, sweet florals, fresh green apple and dried apple slices. As we’re lost in nosing the glass, our mains of Venison, Sunflower, Bread Sauce, Kale and Ox Cheek, Mash, Sour Carrot arrive.
Juicy, medium rare venison sits in a deeply flavoured fermented red and white wine reduction. Thick celeriac mash is rich and comforting, whilst incredible crisp kale and nutty sunflowers come together to further textural play and create a wholesome and powerful dish. The ox cheek is fall-apart soft and full of robing flavours. The vinegared sauce cuts through to stop over-richness but is a little too much. Mash is perfectly creamed and carrots add sweet brightness. Sadly, the light red wine doesn’t quite stand up to either dish and has a lactic quality not detected in the aroma. Margo helpfully lets us know that most of the reds on the menu are light-bodied, as this is the personal taste of the sommelier, however the list changes every three weeks.
Feeling pretty full from our generous meat dishes, we unbutton our trousers as Tunworth, Raisin, Puffed Rice lands in front of us. The British Camembert is frothy yet creamy and lies atop a bed of thick and juicy raisin that perfectly paired with the earthy elements of the cheese. The whole thing is sprinkled with a generous amount of puffed rice that add a crunch and further earthy depth. We may have been feeling full before this course arrived but it is so exceptional that we find ourselves running our finger around the empty bowl, longing for more.
We’ve been so enamoured by the dish that we realise we’ve completely ignored the sweet Château Megyer Tokaj wine that has been placed in front of us. Remedying this for the next dessert – Caramel, Miso, Chocolate, Meringue – we’re rewarded with confected moreishness in the guise of tinned apricot and peach, and syrup from tinned clementines.The sweet wine definitely takes our attention away from the dessert, which whilst pleasant doesn’t quite come together and leaves us a tad unconvinced.
Our final course of Fermented Granny Smith, Meadowsweet turns out to be a crushed ice cup, full of very green and refreshing flavours – the perfect end to a meal.
We’ve been at TRADE for a good long while, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and easy conversation with the team as much as the food and drink. Before we head off into the night, we go for one final drink, this time The Late Night Maya (Rooibos Tea infused with Victory Vodka, Amaretto Disaranno, Ristretto coffee, 43wChocolate bitters, Melted Chocolate, Hazelnut Crust), which turns out to be unexpectantly savoury and something like a German, bitter nut and dark cocoa Christmas Espresso Martini.
It’s always a bit of a gamble when you open a private club up to members of the public. Oftentimes, paying members are upset with people being able to use their sanctum free of charge. However, TRADE has certainly taken precautions against this, only opening to non-members 12pm-2:30pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm Monday to Friday and 5pm to 9:30pm on Saturday, when the club is less busy. It is also only available to would-be diners through bookings and the venue will not allow people to walk in off the street without having made a reservation.
This is certainly a respectful way to new conduct proceedings and will hopefully continue to be easily accepted by TRADE members. Anglo @ TRADE is certainly something that others should be able to share in and the incredible, affable TRADE team are sure to make anyone feel welcome, hospo or no.
Anglo @ TRADE is open for bookings:
Monday – Friday: 12pm-2:30pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm
Anglo @ TRADE, 23 Frith Street, London W1D 4RR