Behind the elegant black door of a Mayfair townhouse is a private members club that only a lucky few get to enter.

Annabel's started out two doors up in 1963 as a basement nightclub.

Opened by Mark Birley, and named after his wife, it swiftly became popular with a young aristocracy and international jet set, who affectionately dubbed it 'The Bel's.'

Revived by the founders' children in the 2000s, it is now owned by restaurateur Richard Caring, and since 2018 occupies a 26,000 square foot Georgian townhouse in Berkeley Square.

Ham & High: Restaurateur Richard Caring and Patricia Caring in BolivarRestaurateur Richard Caring and Patricia Caring in Bolivar (Image: Annabel's)

Founder members paid 5 guineas for life membership, but today you need a letter of recommendation from a fellow member, followed by a joining fee and annual subscription.

For that you get an all day and all night impeccable service in multiple private dining rooms, bars and restaurants. You also get to move through jaw-droppingly designed interiors; a grand staircase, chandeliers, and velvet and gilt fittings, adorned with animal and garden motifs are emblematic of the multi-million pound makeover.

It could be all too much, but in reality, you feel immersed in a playful, exclusive, and glamorous world.

Back in the day The Beatles were denied entry for wearing no shoes and only Mick Jagger could get around the suit dress code. Today it's more relaxed jacket (for men) and smart shoes, with the emphasis on glamour and comfort.

Ham & High: The menu is centred on steak including The Cowboy steak picturedThe menu is centred on steak including The Cowboy steak pictured (Image: Annabel's)

There was also apparently a rule of no unaccompanied journalists, but on our arrival we were warmly welcomed and swept upstairs to Annabel's new Latin American restaurant Bolivar.

Arriving on the second floor you enter through a leather studded door an altogether more rustic but no less gorgeously imagined world.

Flickering candles drip from a stone 18th Century antique fireplace, and distressed plasterwork and religious icons adorn the walls - alongside a mural of a chap on a prancing horse.

Ham & High: The chili con carne croquettes are moreish and spicyThe chili con carne croquettes are moreish and spicy (Image: Annabel's)

He could be the restaurant's namesake; Latin American political leader Simón Bolívar who led what is now Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Bolivia to independence from the Spanish Empire.

Either way, he's a good touchstone for this culinary journey through Latin America that started with a brilliant pisco sour conjured from the glinting array of bottles at the bar. The cocktails here are peerless and include twists on South American classics such as the Bolivar Margarita, Batida Tropical, and El Libertador.

The heart of the menu is an array of steak cuts such as the Cowboy Steak, Wagyu Flat Iron, and Brazilian Sirloin, grilled in an open-fire oven.

But before all that we were introduced to an array of beautifully presented sharing starter plates, starting with smoked butter and a moreish cornbread with olives.

We loved the spicy, melting chili con carne croquettes, and the delicate garnished tuna ceviche while the yellowtail fish, cubed and cured with a sour citrus dressing was a highlight.

Attentive and personable staff are on hand to talk you through your choices and a sommelier helped us to choose a wine to go with our rib-eye steak and rack of BBQ ribs.

We were dithering over a French Rhone red but in the spirit of the restaurant's expert selection of Southern American fine wines, we opted for a deep, rich Malbec that superbly complemented the meaty mains.

The ribs had been marinaded in a dry rub and came with a sticky sweet sauce, the steak was accompanied by an excellent piquant pepper sauce, and we dipped our sides of tender asparagus and crispy potatoes into a smoky, creamy mayo.

While we waited for our indulgent dulce de leche cake to arrive, we savoured the last of our wine and people watched. They says the club is a place to entertain and be entertained, and as the lights dimmed, it created an intimate atmosphere in the buzzing restaurant.

Celebrations were taking place, sparkly dresses were worn, and a young diverse cosmopolitan crowd - inheritors of those early debs and jet setters - were having a great time.

We slipped out of the entrance hall past liveried footmen, onto the square, where supercars were circling. Swapping heels for trainers for the tube ride home, we felt we'd been briefly allowed into an exotic and glamorous world.

Bolivar is open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday, with DJs mixing Latino beats each Saturday night. For all Membership enquiries please email or call 020 3879 9146.