The British Bankers Club's Renaissance...
Three years ago, the British Bankers Club had descended into the ranks of the Peninsula's dive bars: dark, dank, and providing food suitable only for those brave souls who had been drinking for some time. But that is not what Lance White and Richard Eldridge saw when they walked into the BBC for the first time. Enamored by the history of the building and of the area, White and Eldridge saw potential in Menlo Park's brick institution.
Everyone has their memories of the BBC, whether it be hobnobbing with the 49ers in the eighties, the stained glass, or simply being able to lounge about surrounded by so many antiques. The building had been a bar since the early 1970s, but before that it had been city hall, a library, and even served briefly as a jail since being built in 1922. White and Eldridge wanted to reconnect Menlo Park and the BBC with some of that history.
Menlo Park, while settled in 1854, did not come into its own as a city until Camp Fremont became heavily utilized during and in the years following World War I. It was in this boom that the building housing the BBC was built in 1922. White and Eldridge wanted to bring some of this historical flavor back into the BBC, so they reinvested in the building's antique fixtures and furniture. They went further than that however, they brought in a cocktail archivist, Dane Barca, to craft an extensive, historically-based drink menu that reflects both the history of the area and the history of the cocktail. The BBC now uses only fresh, organic ingredients in their cocktail selections, and the quality shows. The menu reads like an historical primer, and if you are not familiar with Horse's Necks, Aviations, or Pisco Sours, you will want to do so quickly. Purists need not be swayed by all the cocktails however, Barca loves his whiskey, and the BBC boasts the most extensive Scotch and whiskey selection on the Peninsula.
However, what are great drinks without great food? White and Eldridge quickly realized that the BBC, while revered as a local institution, was not revered for its cuisine. When they hired their Executive Chef, Tim Uttaro, they knew that they were facing an uphill battle. Over the last year, however, the BBC has become the secret jewel in Menlo Park's culinary crown. Uttaro has transformed the BBC with organic ingredients and a continental flair that has made his plates stand out as some of the highest quality in the area, but the real plus is that they can be savored in a more downtempo environment. Intense quality, but a relaxed atmosphere in which Chef Uttaro dazzles with his Duck Comfit, Wild Boar, Filet, and even his over-the-top delicious Foie Gras Burger.
To complete their transformation of the British Bankers Club, White and Eldridge have made a concerted effort to bring nightlife back to Menlo Park. Have dinner accented with live jazz, or stay for the bands and deejays and the lively late night crowds. White and Eldridge have live entertainment virtually every day of the week, and their commitment to the BBC and to Menlo Park shows in this and every step that they have taken to ensure that the historical building regains its luster, and becomes memorable once again for what it is, and not what it has been in the past.