British, Modern Restaurants in Soho
1. Shampers British, Modern restaurant in Soho 4 Kingly St - W1
“With lashings of individuality”, this unreconstructed Soho wine bar from 1977 stands out for its “old-fashioned style and service” – “the owner, Simon, and his crew simply deliver!” – and “is still going strong with a traditional menu” of “classic French bistro food” (gravadlax, calf’s liver, steak…). There’s also a “most interesting wine list that has great depth at good prices, rather than too many wines at very high prices”. It can, though, “become a little overcrowded (due to its seeming popularity with the Chartered Surveyors’ Tribe)”.
2. Aulis London British, Modern restaurant in Soho 16a St Anne's Court - W1F
Lakeland-based uber-chef Simon Rogan’s eight-seater development kitchen offers “a fascinating and unique experience”, featuring “some of the most creative dishes in London”. Diners pre-book (at £195 a head) and go to a secret Soho address, where a dozen surprise courses and paired wines are prepared in front of them by two chefs. “We went for our anniversary but the other six diners pulled out; what could have been awkward became a once-in-a-lifetime exclusive pampering!”.
3. The French House British, Modern restaurant in Soho 49 Dean Street - W1D
“Oozing rustic, Gallic charm of yesteryear” – the “lovely, intimate room” above Soho’s famous Francophile watering hole (where de Gaulle is said to have composed his ‘À tous les Français’ speech during WWII, rallying the French people) oscillates over the years between being a forgotten-about curio, and sporadic partnerships with brilliant chefs (e.g. St John’s Fergus Henderson, who started out here) that lead to its re-discovery. The arrival of Neil Borthwick (Mr Angela Hartnett) at the end of last year sees it riding another high – “it’s smashing to have this old-favourite reborn under such good hands” – and his “great, old-fashioned, gutsy French menu” (“short, but with dishes which seem dragged from a distant memory”) can be “top class”, while service is “fabulously friendly” too. A few reporters, though, feels “it doesn’t live up to the hype” or that “while great to have it back, it’s still a work in progress…”
4. Kettners British, Modern restaurant in Soho 29 Romilly St - W1
2019 Review: “An old treasure given the Nick Jones treatment… welcome back!” – this resurrected Soho landmark gets the thumbs-up from most who have visited after its swish revamp care of the Soho House group, certainly for its “handsome looks” (including the gorgeous bar). Its “initially underwhelming-looking” brasserie menu can “deliver real joy”, even if overall ratings for the cooking are rather more middling.
5. Quo Vadis British, Modern restaurant in Soho 26-29 Dean St - W1
“It feels small now that Barrafina has taken up half of the original space” following a re-jig a year ago, but the Hart Bros’ “gorgeous” landmark (est 1926) remains a “discrete”, “comfortable” and “fun” oasis from the bustle of Soho. Chef Jeremy Lee’s seasonal menu “is frequently refreshed with innovative dishes” and, at its best, delivers “unusual but superb” riffs on British cuisine, alongside a list of “interesting wines” and “fine cocktails”. Top Tip – “a bangin’ place for a traditional breakfast in classy surroundings”.
6. Ducksoup British, Modern restaurant in Soho 41 Dean St - W1
“So hip, so uncomfortable, so cool it aches” – this funky Soho bar combines natural/biodynamic wines, Italian-North African small plates and sounds on vinyl. For fans, it’s a combination that “just makes me happy” – with its “delicious ingredient-led seasonal food, this place just gets better and better”. As for the “odd and cloudy” vino – “we were complete natural wine cretins and left knowing ever so slightly more, with a new favourite drink”.
7. Andrew Edmunds British, Modern restaurant in Soho 46 Lexington Street - W1F
“Perfect for dîner à deux” – the “quaint”, “rustic and candle-lit” interior of this “Dickensian” Soho “staple” remains one of the capital’s most romantic destinations, and its long-term ownership by antique print dealer Andrew Edmunds gives it a “charming and unpretentious” style of a rare kind, and fostered by his “genial” staff. “Yes, it’s cramped” (“you squeeze in at a tiny table with lots of noise”) and the “honest” and “straightforward food” – though “perfectly decent” – avoids fireworks. As an overall experience, though, it offers “excellent value” particularly due to the owner’s collection of wine: “Andrew still makes other lists look a rip-off” with “prices not much more than retail” for some fine vintages and “ever changing additions to the blackboard that are a pleasure to explore”. The ground floor is the safest bet – by comparison the basement can appear “dull”.
8. The Good Egg Fusion restaurant in Soho Unit G9 Kingly Court - W1B
“Utterly magic shakshuka served with chunks of roasted sourdough…”, “stand-out salt beef bagels…”, “incredible coffee with a selection of babka sweet breads (in different flavours!)…”, “ZFC – ‘za’atar fried chicken’ – to die for!…” – these “bustling” Israeli delis in Stoke Newington and Soho’s Kingly Court create queues (especially at brunch) with their “quite exceptional and startlingly fresh Middle-Eastern-cum-north-American food. They also make a worthwhile destination at dinner, when the pace is more sedate, the natural wines are flowing and you can actually book a table”. “Casual and relaxed”, they look “gorgeous” too.
9. Bob Bob Ricard British, Modern restaurant in Soho 1 Upper James Street - W1
“OTT-opulent decor, with a ‘push for champagne’ button in each booth” have carved a big name for Leonid Shutov’s fantastical Soho haunt, whose “high novelty factor” is extremely romantic (“you just have to take a date”). When it comes to Eric Chavot’s menu of luxurious classics (“amazing beef Wellington” for example) results undisputedly taste “very nice”, but the food is “expensive for what it is, and you get more adventurous cooking at the same price-bracket elsewhere”.
10. Dean Street Townhouse British, Modern restaurant in Soho 69-71 Dean St - W1
“Wonderful when it’s cold outside – with warm fires burning to make it very welcoming” – and blessed with a nice terrace for summer: this all-day Soho House brasserie (part of their hotel, in the heart of Soho) exudes just the right design pheromones to keep it permanently packed. “Just the job for a power breakfast – it serves decent kippers, cracking kedgeree and a full English that deserves the name”. At other times its English comfort food (when did you last see mince and potatoes on a menu?) neither greatly adds nor detracts from the experience.
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