The Doll’s House: The Slickest Member’s Club In London

The Doll’s House: The Slickest Member’s Club In London

The Doll's House

by Alice Tate |
Published on

The concept of members clubs is great… for everyone who’s a member. And then for everyone else they’re a pain in the arse. We can’t join you for drinks there, we can’t afford the drinks there, and God forbid we embarrass ourselves by rolling up for a night cap only to find there’s no way we’re allowed in. Often reserved for the 1% (or at least those with the disposable income that we’ve already spent on shoes), they can quite often be stuffy places that we only crave because we like the idea of the exclusivity (and/or spotting the Beckhams). But the Doll’s House in Islington is determined to change all that with its amicable, social approach of ‘bring a spirit and you’re in’ membership. Pick a bottle from their spirits list, rock up with it, they’ll make you a cocktail, and then you’re in. It’s that easy. And once you’re in, it’s awesome.

Formerly a pop-up on Hoxton Square, now in Islington (in the former House of Wolf Building) the Doll’s House is here to stay, welcoming a new intrigued crowd of members along with its loyal old-timers (who will always stay ‘til the 4am close).

**The vibes and space **

It’s a Wednesday night, it only opened last week and it’s a struggle to get in the front door. An after-work drinks crowd huddle between the bar and the door whilst all the low tables and chairs are occupied by intimate couples and gossiping groups of three. This ground floor feels much like a pub, with a chatty crowd, exposed brick walls and a lively bar, whilst upstairs the Drawing Room and Library Room (complete with a Martini Bar) are more relaxed.

Upstairs again on the top floor, the Ballroom is a members-only restaurant, though the atmosphere stays consistent — there’s no sudden air of pretentiousness of anything, or a formal dress code or nowt. Big windows that look out over Upper Street are built into raw brick walls, and mirrored tabletops match the disco ball that dazzles from the centre of the ceiling. If we were to furnish a dining room, we’d probably do it like this too.

The meal

On the top floor, the member’s restaurant has a fine looking bar with a good selection of spirits and a sophisticated cocktail menu. I see a Pisco Sour on the menu and order it immediately whilst my dining partner takes a little longer to decide on her thyme and gin creation. Both are delicious, my Pisco strong and tart, with a thick foam just as it should have.

The Doll's House
The Doll's House

I visit with an old school friend and the waiter has to come back twice before I’ve even looked at the menu and then a further two times before I commit to making a decision. He doesn’t mind though. This place is super relaxed, the sort of place you can spend 3 hours mooching over a starter and a main at, without getting ushered on or rude service. The staff here encourage you to peruse the menu at leisure and linger over your Merlot.

Once we get round to studying the menu, we both take no delay in ordering the house-cured salmon to start. It is the most appealing sounding starter and one that is rarely poorly executed. Here, it’s perfect. The salmon is impressively flavoursome, sweet and salty at once, and served with artisan bread and gin-infused crème fraîche. I call the waiter over to ask exactly what’s in the ‘house cure’ and he tells me vaguely that it’s a sugar and salt mixture. I don’t blame him for not sharing the chef’s secret; it is absolutely delicious.

My friend orders the 45-day aged sirloin steak for her main whilst I go for the salad with ‘textures of artichoke’, stilton and parsnip crisps, partly because it does sound exciting, partly because I feel obliged to order artichoke anything just because their season is almost over. Though a salad, it’s particularly wholesome and comforting, rich in flavour with earthy artichokes roasted, sliced and even used as a puree — they weren’t kidding when they said textures, huh. The Sirloin steak is impressive and asked for medium-rare is cooked to perfection, served with a buttery Bernaise sauce and extra chunky, extra crispy duck fat-fried chips — yum!

Alas, we’re too full to fit anything else in so we refrain from ordering dessert, but will definitely be back to try their Dessert Canapés, which sound intriguing and are just £5 for 6.

The verdict

If you’re going to be a member of any member’s club, be a member of this one. Unpretentious, relaxed and with delicious food, you’ll struggle to keep away. ** **

Check out the spirits list that will get you membership here: www.thedeaddollsclub.comThe Doll’s House, 181 Upper Street, London, N1 1RQ; 020 7288 1470.

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