After typing in Catford Constitutional Club and travelling an hour on public transport, Google Maps lead me to a darkened and dodgy-looking alleyway. Judge as you may, but I couldn’t help but defy the good ol’ saying of ‘never judge a book by its cover’. Tethering on the edge of uneasy, and not knowing what to expect, I took the plunge and sprung through the rickety door to meet my fate.
You’ll find plenty of surprises lurking about London, and the Catford Constitutional Club is one of them. Once I had ventured through the eerie alleyway mentioned above, and the CCC's unassuming front entrance, I was met with a whole world of quirky interiors and shabby chic vibes.
The venue itself is almost invisibly split, depending on if you want to focus on drinking or dining. A fully stocked bar and plenty of standing space is reserved for people who want to mingle with a drink in their hands, while the restaurant area is pushed back towards the rear of the venue and offers an extra feeling of intimacy. Luckily my company and I were seated in the dining space, where mahogany tables were bathed in candlelight and framed pictures clumsily climbed the walls. Giving a nod to this joint's former gentlemen club days, a few famous faces - like Churchill and Lenin - took pride in the black and white portraits. Alongside many other features, exposed brick work, hanging chandeliers and mismatched chairs blend together to enhance the unique character of this south east plot giving it kooky charm.
The Food and Drink
Puckering our lips to an all-time favourite of mine, I and my company stuck to aperol spritz £6 throughout our meal. The cocktail was served with precision throughout the night, with the correct amount of aperol and prosecco measured into our glasses.
Food wise, we weren’t as consistent, with both of us choosing differently across each section of CCC’s menu. Scanning over the options there were plenty of traditional British dishes with modern twists. My company ended up ordering the Scotch egg £3.50 for starters which game out golden, and packed with meat while I went for the deep fried salt and pepper squid and roasted garlic mayonnaise £6. Like the Scotch egg, the portion was more than generous with the batter crispy and the squid cooked to tender perfection. After our mammoth portions and asking our server to wait a few minutes to plate up our mains, out came the sea trout with baby potatoes, charred fennel, mussels, parsley and cream £12.75, alongside the special of the day - pork belly in a red wine sauce with garlic potatoes £13. The sea trout was perfectly pink underneath its crispy skin, a sprinkling of plump mussels featured throughout the dish and the cream-based sauce formed a lovely pool beneath the hearty dish. I could only manage one bite of my company’s pork dish, but it was meaty with the red wine sauce bordering sweet-savoury.
If you’ve had the pleasure of looking over my last couple of reviews, you’ll know that, like a weakling, I haven’t been able to manage dessert. However CCC’s dessert selection was too good to refuse. I guiltlessly ended up ordering a portion of the venue’s sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce £4.75 with a scoop of salted caramel ice-cream. If you’ve never had a foodgasm - this is where you’re going to get one. Truth be told, I’d scoot back to Catford for it alone.
After getting our bearings and being presented with our first drink of the night, it didn’t take long for us to relish and soak up the CCC’s chilled atmosphere. Sat beside the open end of the kitchen in the restaurant section, we had prime viewing of the venue; a map of tables stretched across the floor with an eclectic mix of diners sat behind every mahogany table. It felt like the entirety of the crowd sat on the late 20s side of the spectrum meaning our Saturday night dining experience was dialled to relaxed rather than upbeat. Our night was filled with a constant hum of chatter, but in a strange turn of musical events a DJ set up his decks on one of the venue’s foosball tables and started playing sci-fi music around 9.30pm.
In my opinion, venturing through that darkened alleyway to the Catford Constitutional Club was a bold and brilliant move. Thanks to a night consisting of flawless service and quality seasonal dishes, I've been (once again) reminded that it's what's on the inside that counts.