Celebrated London chef Florence Knight will return to lead the kitchen at Sessions Arts Club, an upcoming restaurant in Clerkenwell run by Knight, St. John co-founder Jon Spiteri, and world-renowned painter Jonny Gent. The restaurant will open on 28 July, according to the Evening Standard.
It sprawls over the top floor of a Clerkenwell townhouse, and the dining room — a palette of lushly faded greens, cracked beiges, and black banquettes — looks appropriate for the kind of pastel cooking that is having a small surge from a strong base in London: At Anna Tobias’ Cafe Deco, at the upcoming Toklas from the founders of Frieze. and the upcoming Cafe Cecilia from ex-River Cafe chef Max Rocha; at Neil Borthwick’s French House — fitting, given Knight’s star turn there as head chef of Polpetto before it moved on to Berwick Street — and at Alex Vines’ residency at Lighthaus — fitting, given he was attached to Sessions before COVID-19 delayed its opening. Food on the Mediterranean side of sunny and the British side of austere is given a diffuse, thrown-together feel but bathed in soft light — following in the likes of Rochelle Canteen, St. John, Quo Vadis, et al and a counterpoint to the alumni of those restaurants who have gone down the natty juice vibes and caps route via Black Axe Mangal’s attitude but little of its depth and thoroughness. Gent, fittingly, credits Knight’s use of “light and shadow” in her cooking and plating as key to their collaboration.
In practice, those banquettes will play host to the likes of sardines with lemon thyme; lamb sweetbreads with lovage and peas; sole with verjuice and sorrel; and a ricotta and cherry tart. A menu which, at this early stage, reads as gorgeously as the dining room. And while it is named for a club — and sports a top-floor infinity pool — it is not a membership affair.
For fans of even more narrative, Knight will open Sessions Arts Club just as Russell Norman opens Brutto, his own Farringdon reemergence from a legacy honed at Polpo and Polpetto. Knight left in 2015 and has been looking to “do her own thing” ever since — this project, on first sight, looks to be a fittingly grand return for one of the city’s most influential chefs of the 2010s.