A plain and simple – and noisy and tightly-packed – Soho bistro, offering simple and generally decent food, plus cracking wines, at reasonable prices.
e happened to have booked for lunch at this Soho newcomer on the day it received a bit of a ‘rave’ in the Evening Standard, so expectations were high. We arrived to find what looked very like a plain and simple bistro, and further inspection confirmed it was precisely that.
Any lingering doubts were laid to rest by the blackboard menu, which can only be described as, well, bistro-like – full of good, and relatively straightforward, dishes. As a guest commented, he could have eaten his way right through it.
The wine list, however, was not really bistro-like: it was much better than that. Well, what’s not to like with a list that kicks off with champagne at £6 a glass? There’s a very respectable range, but prices are consistently modest, with many options available by the half-bottle-size carafe.
On the evidence of our visit, though, the wines far outshine the food. The bread, focaccia, was decent enough, but the starter du jour we’d opted for was simply a disaster. A dish of crab, chilli and pasta, and saffron too, it looked good, but it tasted of nothing at all, and certainly not chilli. Not a good start. A plump pheasant breast, however, was a simple pleasure, accompanied by some similarly plain but satisfying kale and Jerusalem artichokes.
Wondering if we’d been unlucky, we interrogated our guests (two) as to whether they'd sensed the magic that had impressed the earlier visiting scribe. No, even as guests, and having sampled a starter and a main course apiece, they could not perjure themselves to say that they had sensed anything resembling magic.
Prices, however, are reasonable: a two-course lunch for three, with a bottle of Gruner Veltliner, and a cup of coffee apiece, squeaked in just under the magic ton mark. Plus tip, which was well deserved.