August 08 2010
Mark C O’Flaherty
Although I’m partial to an evening of roulette, I don’t gamble frequently enough to warrant membership of any of London’s better clubs. That said, on the occasions that I’ve accompanied a member to Les Ambassadeurs in Mayfair, the beautiful period wood-panelled interior has made me consider signing up, paying dues and using it is as a pretty splendid bar and restaurant with poker as an afterthought.
When Leopold de Rothschild owned the building as a private house in the 19th century, he had the Italian carver Chevalier Rinaldo Barbetti create the most stunning library and wooden staircase in town. And I’m absolutely thrilled to find that the club’s restaurant, The Milroy, at the top of Barbetti’s staircase, is now open to non-members during the day. It’s become one of my favourite London lunch spots, in one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the city.
The Milroy isn’t a place to rush a meal: the seating isn’t so much plush as soporifically sumptuous, while the stucco detailing, the Murano glass chandeliers, the views across the park and the grown-up service all make for an eminently civilised and special experience. The menu is reassuringly big (as in physically, rather than overly long) and I always want everything on it – from the table-side performance piece of the steak tartare (£10, with unctuous mini Scotch Egg) to the fish and chips (£19) and the whole Dover sole (£35). That The Milroy is only open only for lunch for non-members makes membership, and evening visits, seem even more seductive.