Neighbours back plans for restaurant with ‘Victorian/colonial vibe’ at Clerkenwell’s Old Sessions House

Old Sessions House in Clerkenwell.

Old Sessions House in Clerkenwell. - Credit: Archant

Plans to open a posh restaurant with a “Victorian/colonial vibe” in a historic Clerkenwell building have gone down a storm with neighbours.

Judges' Dining Room Ltd wants to open Sessions Art Club in Old Sessions House, the recently restored Grade II* listed former courthouse in Clerkenwell Green.

It will operate as a bar and restaurant with an art studio and gallery. On Tuesday next week councillors will decide whether to grant bosses a licence to open until 11pm Sunday to Thursday and 12.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.

A brochure published ahead of the meeting says: "Sessions will be a restaurant and wine bar built around the ethos of the studio, to make a space where you can think, look, learn, eat and drink. A place to disappear."

Old Sessions House was bought in 2014 by Oliver and Ted Grebelius, founders of Satila Studios. They have since been battling neighbours in their bid to get an alcohol licence, but now look to have won them over.

Dozens of people, many of whom were invited for a look around, have written to the council supporting the plans, with only a couple raising concerns about noise from the rooftop terrace.

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Summing up the general feeling, one person wrote: "Personally, I don't see this application as in any way problematic. It sounds like the management have been very considerate of the community in its application, and have agreed on many points to reduce any potential impact.

"It will surely attract a civilised foodie crowd, rather than a young party crowd. I think it will be a great asset to the area."

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The team includes Jonny Gent, an internationally renowned artist from a family of restaurateurs, Jon Spiteri, who has 40 years experience in the industry, and architect Russell Potter.

Sessions will serve modern European dishes and have a "fun and social vibe" where the local community can go and "explore all the arts". It will also host high end art shows throughout the year.

The literature adds: "Sessions complements a Victorian/colonial vibe with large living and dead plants, trees, soft luxurious fabrics, heavy cottons and linen mixed with harder artists material such as canvas and stone."

Staff will wear a uniform consisting of "bespoke studio coats - sleeves rolled up ready to work" and will earn badges highlighting expertise, such as "forager, gardener, mixologist".

"Sessions is a studio - our staff work to that mentality," the brochure adds. "ALL staff will carry a notebook, pencil or pen at all times. Ideas are encouraged and shared, we're all here to explore and discover."

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