Curry is great. Noodles too. And sushi can be splendid’ if you’re in the mood. Such dishes retain their ethnic status, but are so commonplace they are hardly exotic nowadays. But, you don’t have to be a fully paid-up member of the BNP to feel that sometimes you want the sort of comforting mongrel fare that people tend to think of as ‘British’ nowadays. Fish pie, chicken ‘n’ chips, lasagne – that sort of thing.
But exclude the Garfunkel’s-type joints and student-bistros (such as the West End Kitchen) and the centre of town has few places providing such home-from-home dishes. So this straightforward, handily situated Soho newcomer – sibling to what has traditionally been one of the few bright sparks in Covent Garden – ought to fill the gap nicely.
Ought to, but, at least in our experience, there are reservations. Chiefly that cheap and cheerful places should be quick, and that our simple lunch here took as long as it would have at many places with fancy culinary aspirations.
In terms of something for everyone, though, its menu is an appealing combination of banal and slightly more adventurous options. Some of the food is surprisingly good. Our meal, for example, started with a chunk of delicious bread, and proceeded via a winning terrine with toast, to a fish pie that was as comforting as you could want. (Not everything shone admittedly, including a dull pasta dish, and a crème brûlée that was just too sweet.)
Generous portions, reasonable prices and charming staff help disarm some of the criticisms, and add to the place’s West End standby credentials. To try it out at most minimal risk, you can just opt for a drink (especially at night, when there’s quite a lively bar scene).