Minutes after descending from street level into this Coven Garden venue, the name ‘Clubhouse’ gains far more meaning. It’s loud. In fact, at first it’s loud to the point where it’s not all that enjoyable.
Off to the left as you come down the stairs is another room. Each table in there boasts a Juno-style burger phone so that if you spot a hottie on a different table you can call ‘em up and get chatting. Fun huh? ‘We’re really quirky here,’ the waiter says.
Quirky, eh? Yes, the pizza and cocktail menus vouch for that. The dishes are named after ’90s US TV shows and films. There’s the ‘Dawson’s Creek’ and the ‘Screech’. On the liqueur front there’s a gin-based cocktail named ‘Stifler’s Mom’ which has the slightly concerning inclusion of absinthe, and there’s a vodka short named ‘Sweet Valley High’ which comes served in a pretty Babycham glass.
Fairly soon, the initially intrusive volume of the music adds to the atmosphere. The tunes are good and are controlled by the punters via the Secret DJ app. The cocktail menu is adventurous and inventive and is completely fitting of the Clubhouse. I start with an ‘Axel Foley’. It’s tequila topped up with lime and ‘Ting’ (sparkling grapefruit) and is served with rock salt around the rim. My gal pal Jo opts for a ‘Cruel Intentions’. The coconut vodka and pineapple juice are a nice twist on a classic pina colada.
We’re midway through our rendition of the Sweet Valley High theme tune when our ‘Ferris Bueller’ chilli chicken and spicy salami pizza arrives. Sure the chicken is suspiciously smooth as if it maybe came from a pre packed carton of sandwich meat but all in all, it’s a tasty bite. The inclusion of scotch bonnet chillies is enough to make it memorable for its fire in your throat.
Today’s special is a calzone. It’s a twenty inch sourdough based beast and comes on a fittingly sized pizza board. We struggle to scoff this monster with only a plastic fork each and a pizza cutter to aid us but it was a challenge well worth accepting.
This place is ideal for after work drinks and sobering snacks (£3.50 for a slice, £18 for a 20-inch whopper). The food is good, the cocktail menu is a little bit edgy and includes some things that don’t quite work (the ‘Power Ranger’ for example is bourbon shaken with lemon, red wine, apricot jam and egg white – yikes) but that’s all fine and dandy because this new get up isn’t taking itself super seriously. Fun is the name of the game here and everyone, including the beaming, dancing staff, has a boatload of it.
Earlham Street Clubhouse
35 Earlham Street
Tel: 020 7240 5142