May 19 2010
I was more than a little irritated that Morton’s private members’ club closed last year for a six-month makeover. Not least because I’d only recently joined and was rather starting to enjoy the benefits of having such a stylish and central place to eat, meet and drink at the top of Berkeley Square.
However, the good news is that Morton’s is back – and, in my opinion, most of it (but not quite all) is better than ever. Two things immediately strike you on entering the new-look Number 28. One is the way in which the rooms have been re-configured and re-designed. The other is the extraordinary art hanging on the walls, courtesy of owner Marlon Abela.
First, though, a guided tour to see what’s new. The ground-floor bar (second picture) is a vast improvement on its split-level predecessor. Apart from feeling much more spacious, it’s also cool, comfortable and contemporary. No wonder it suddenly seems a lot more busy and buzzy of an evening.
The downstairs private dining room/wine room (with its erstwhile magnificent Linley dining table) has made way for a new night bar and lounge to meet the needs of Morton’s younger demographic. This comes complete with DJ booth and a interactive light art piece which, apparently, changes with the music tempo. Not being a night bird, I’ve yet to see it in action. If I’m honest, I probably never will.
The upstairs restaurant (first picture) was and is one of the best dining rooms in London thanks to its magnificent proportions and full-length windows looking directly onto the square below. The colour scheme is a cool and elegant grey-green. But the pièce de résistance here is the massive Howard Hodgkin. Frankly, it’s a show-stopper.
The food continues to be outstanding, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. The same goes for the discreet and solicitous service. The wine list is as good as ever. Apart from collecting art, Abela also collects wine and has more than 250,000 bottles tucked away in his cellar and at his various restaurants. Sensibly though, the list is comprehensive, well-priced and not at all inaccessible. Should you want advice, I recommend the young, knowledgeable and charming sommelier Matteo.
The club room at the top of the house has probably changed the least. But it too is an improvement thanks to a lick of paint and a new ensemble of furniture. And do make sure you check out the Miró and the Matisse lithographs as well as Frank Auerbach’s etchings.
In fact, each room comes equipped with some enthrallingly eclectic contemporary European artworks by the likes of George Condo, Bernard Frize, Julian Opie, Fiona Rae and Toby Ziegler. And what I particularly like about them is the way they have been integrated into the design and feel of the club. It doesn’t feel showy or as if you’re in a gallery. They’re just a joy to look at.
So if you want to apply to join one of the coolest, most exclusive and smartest clubs in Mayfair, I would certainly take a peek at Morton’s. And sooner rather than later because the word is out.