Eat Soho

Food, afternoon tea & cocktails in the heart of London

Cocktails at Bob Bob Ricard

Despite the fact that no-one else was there (dead is a bit of an understatement) I rather liked Bobby’s Bar.

It’s ridiculously over-the-top, it must have cost an absolute fortune to decorate and I can’t imagine Bobby (whoever he is) will ever break even, but when I entered the subterranean railway-carriage-style bar I felt like I was in an Agatha Christie film and all was forgiven. 

The loos have beautiful wallpaper in them too - a japanese style print with little birds all over it. 

We only stayed for a quick glass of Muscat… so I’ll have to go back and test the coctkails. 

THE DETAILS
Bobby’s Bar at Bob Bob Ricard
1 Upper James St
W1D 9DF
0203 145 1000
www.bobbobricard.com

Korean food at Woo Jung - Nov 2010

Woo Jung is on a strange little stretch of St Giles High street - right next to Centre Point and the new cross-rail building site. I hope it’s not been demolished actually - i’d better go and check. 

Anyway, there is a micro Korean quarter here and one day we decided to pop in and try it out. The music was brilliant - korean pop. And the food was pretty good too. We didn’t have too much but the weird tasteless jelly like sticks were transformed when dipped in the smokychilioil. 

THE DETAILS
59 St Giles High Street
WC2H 8LH

Cocktails at the Connaught Hotel - April 2009

We went to the Connaught Bar at the Connaught Hotel back in April 2009 and I don’t think I’ve had a better cocktail since. The decor is so elegant, the service was fabulous, and the cocktails were delicious. Highly recommended.

THE DETAILS
The Connaught Bar at The Connaught Hotel 
Carlos Pl
W1K 2AL
020 7499 7070
www.the-connaught.co.uk

Don Zoko - Nov 2010 -  a tribute

Sadly, my favourite Japanese restaurant - Donzoka aka ‘The Old Lady’ has closed down. But it was such a nice place that I just have to post about it.

We call it The Old Lady because of the formidable Japanese lady who used to run the place. She always had her hair pinned up and folded over with a clip - and never really smiled. But she was certainly part of the allure. As was her three fingered sushi chef (I always imagined they were husband and wife). Then there was the slightly androgynous waitress - or was she a waiter? Who knows. And the mixed-race Japanese British lad who always looked a bit bling. 

The sushi was always tasty.  My favourite was the ikura (fish-pop) nigiri - fresh, salty and always with crispy (never soggy) seaweed. But alongside sushi there were so many unusual dishes on the menu - including an extensive ‘garlic’ section! (Garlic mushrooms with warm avocado was a particular highlight)

I’m so glad I had the chance to go there with my Dad. He doesn’t get to eat sushi very often as my mum hates fish so we ordered a lot. Some sushi, some sashimi, some little fried sprats and the ultimate dish of fermented fish guts on shredded radish. The latter has the most pungent, slightly-revolting-but-slightly-delicious taste you’re ever likely to experience. 

Anyway, the hunt is on for a place that has an essence, character and menu equivalent to Don Zoko!

THE DETAILS
Used to be 15 Kingly Street
W1B 5PS

Afternoon Tea at Brown’s Hotel - November 2010

I think this is the best Afternoon Tea that I’ve had so far in London… it was such a relaxed place. The sandwiches, scones etc were all perfect. My friends didn’t really like the crockery but I thought it had a certain English charm. 

It was really comfortable - and I seem to remember there being a funny painting on the wall of a traditionally British lady who watched over us with a knowing, warm smile.

As I mentioned in the post about The Donovan bar at the same Hotel, Brown’s is suitably off the beaten track, so you get the feeling that you’re in one of London’s hidden gems - even when it’s full of other tea-drinkers or cocktail sippers. 

Highly recommended… mmm seeing that lovely curl of clotted cream brings back happy memories. 

THE DETAILS
The English Tea Room - Brown’s Hotel
Albemarle Street
W1S 4BP
020 7493 6020
www.brownshotel.com

Sushi at Eat Tokyo - October 2010

Growing up in Yorkshire in the 80s and 90s meant that I’d had very little contact with sushi until I moved down to London. (It’s all change now… with packs of sushi in every supermarket chiller cabinet but in the 90s the only raw fish was behind the counter at the chip-shop waiting to be battered).

But my after the first taste - I’ve never looked back. My love affair began with a small-underground place right next to Goodge Street station. David Baddiel was there on my first visit. It felt very japanesey but one day just disappeared.  I eventually found a suitable replacement - Don Zoko (also known to me and my friends as ‘The Old Lady’) on Kingly street. But now this, tragically, has gone too (along with its domineering hostess and her 3 fingered sushi chef)… 

I’m yet to find somewhere that that lives up to these two wonderful places, but I’ll keep trying.

Anyway, Eat Tokyo felt pretty authentic. We had to wait for a while for our table as it’s a pretty small place, so we sat on a bench with 2 japanese students and enviously watched them playing games on their iPhones laden with stickers and trinkets.

The food, I seem to remember, was good. Slightly odd presentation (I think our sashimi arrived in a boat-like contraption) but the simple, Japanese metal tea-pots made up for it. I’ll have to go back and give it another try…

THE DETAILS
Eat Tokyo
27 Romilly St
W1D 5AL
020 7734 4401
www.eattokyo.co.uk

Lunch at St. John Bread and Wine - Oct 2010

I love St. John’s Bread and Wine. I’ve been here several times and can’t fault it. You never quite know what will be on the menu, but you’re bound to find something delicious. My one main regret is the time I was too full and missed out on the most heavenly looking profiteroles I’ve ever seen.

If you don’t like offal or bloody-game, you might struggle at first, but there’s usually something for even the most faint hearted of eaters…

THE DETAILS
St. John Bread and Wine
94-96 Commercial Street
E1 6LZ
020 3301 8069
www.stjohnbreadandwine.com

Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason - August 2010

Although this is the first Afternoon Tea post, it’s certainly not the first Afternoon Tea we’ve been to! The most memorable of our past trips being Tea at the Ritz. Unfortunately no photos seem to have survived from the trip… but it was spectacular, with OTT decor, men in silly uniforms serving unlimited sandwiches, and someone playing naff 80s and 90s ballads on the piano.

Anyway, F&M was okay, but there were a few downsides:

*The service was relatively poor - we felt quite neglected. Perhaps they were under-staffed but I remember waiting a long time for them to take our order. On top of this, I don’t think they offered us extra sandwiches - which is a must if you want to please us!

*The seats were very low down. Now, we’re all young and still are on our first set of hips so it wasn’t a huge problem, but if I had gone with my Grandma she’d still be there now! there’s no way she’d have been able to get up out of the chair without a hydraulic lift. Although we all were able to walk away with knees intact, the lowness did make the whole experience less than comfortable and awkward… especially when dolloping clotted cream on your scone and precariously lifting it the long way from plate to mouth! The decor, in general, felt a little tired (notice the slightly weird trellis on the wall)

*The tea and food were good - but again not amazing. Sandwiches, I remember were a little over-fancy. Simplicity always wins for us on the sandwich front. And then there was a controversial addition of madeleines to the scone plate on the middle tier…! Not mentioning the petits fours which were over-sweet and not as dainty as they should be.

Anyway, it wasn’t a bad effort - I think it was quite a bit cheaper than some of the other places we’ve been (ie the Ritz) and there is a nice, classless, open-to-all feel about the place.

THE DETAILS
St James’s Restaurant
Fortnum & Mason
181 Piccadilly

W1A 1ER
020 7734 8040
www.fortnumandmason.com

Cocktails at Brown’s Hotel - April 2009

The Donovan Bar at Brown’s hotel is a very relaxed, discrete place to have a drink. Slightly off the beaten track on Albemarle Street in Mayfair, it’s a bit of a hidden gem.  It’s conveniently located opposite the Royal Institution of Great Britain, so lovers of cocktails and science can pop across the road to see the basement laboratory where Humphrey Davy and Michael Faraday worked in the 19th Century.

The drink you can see, was very cucumber-y. Perfect for a Spring/Summer evening. The drinks have been consistently good. The walls are covered with nicely framed b&w photos - you’ll wish you dressed like Audrey Hepburn!

Though it has never wowed me, I’ve always left with a warm glow and a note in my diary to come back again.

THE DETAILS

The Donovan Bar - Brown’s Hotel
Albemarle Street
W1S 4BP
020 7493 6020
www.brownshotel.com

The First Post

I’ve been talking about starting a blog for a while and have finally decided to do it. So here it is: Eat Soho - a place where I’ll post reviews, photos and maybe even some videos of the places I’ve been nibbling / drinking / sipping cocktails. 

soho

Soho is a wonderful place - full of history, a market or two and plenty of naughty sex shops. But also full of cafes, bars and restaurants, so full infact that that the choice is often bewildering. From old institutions to smaller pop-ups serving food from around the world and course the traditional greasy spoons, there’s so much choice it’s often impossible to sort the wheat from the chaff. So I’ll try to go to as many places as possible and post my thoughts here. I’ll probably start with my favourites - but hope to venture further afield to places that I’ve never been.

One of the main inspirations for blogging, however, is Afternoon Tea - the Great British invention of finger sandwiches (without crusts of course), scones (pronounced skon and always served with lashings of clotted cream and jam or honey), and petits fours (which inevitably make you feel a bit sick at the end), all washed down by a fine cup of tea. 

My best friends K, K and I have been going to Afternoon tea for a few years now - endeavouring to go at least 3 times per year (usually coinciding with our birthdays). The trouble is, we can never quite remember how good the last one was - so I hope the blog will be a place for us to archive our thoughts and help us  compare and contrast the future teas with past deliciousnesses.

I’m going to start by posting about places that I’ve visited in the last couple of years - so some of my early posts may be a little out-of-date already, but I hope they’ll be a nice reminder…

Finally, be warned - I do occasionally venture away from W1 and so don’t get cross if you find posts about places further north, south, east or west.