When it comes to good food, poor Britain’s taken its fair share of criticism in the past. But we’ve come a long way since stodgy Spotted Dick, sausage and mash, and Marmite on toast. There’s so much great food in London that we couldn’t possibly even attempt to cover it all, so we thought we’d start with a few of our faves in Soho.
Been to Sri Lanka? Tried their heavenly Hoppers? Well, you can get a whole stack, plus dosas, rice, kothu, arrack and more authentic goodness here at Hoppers in Soho, which offers delicious foods inspired by Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu. Rock up and order your savoury pancakes bursting at the seams with spices, fresh herbs and runny egg – yeah, it’s messy, but leave your table manners in London – you’re in Sri Lanka now. Enjoy! By the way, the bar snacks/short eats are amazing in their own right. Try the hot butter-devilled shrimps or the duck roti.
Hoppers. 49 Frith Street, London, W1D 4SG
Where better to taste the salty goodness of the ocean’s best than at Sheekey’s? Choose your type of oyster, which could just as easily have come from Essex as the south of France (yes really!), and cleanse your palette with mini meaty sausage plates. The sounds of old jazz provide a comforting soundtrack as you gaze at the black and white movie star photos on the walls. This is a great place for a treat with friends, or for saying it with seafood – whatever ‘it’ might be. Don’t forget to ask for the dessert, which is so special it’s not even on the menu (sssh).
J Sheekey Oyster Bar. 28-32 St Martin’s Ct, London, WC2N 4AL
This cute little place would make the perfect location for a date; the kind of date that calls for somewhere cosy and candlelit with lashings of amazing food and wine. Ducksoup (sibling to Hackney’s Rawduck) serves small plates which change daily and are created with fresh, seasonal produce. Past dishes have included spiced crab with apple and hazelnuts, and lamb shoulder with artichokes. Drooling yet? The wine list includes lots of natural wines that promise not to give you much of a hangover the next day. Let us know how you go with that.
DuckSoup. 41 Dean Street, London, W1D 4PY
Dinner in a basement? You bet. This quirky restaurant will serve you up a plate of chops, prime cuts and cocktails for just five quid! Sit at the communal table, nailed together from planks of wood, and get your lips round some of grandma’s homemade ‘spiked’ lemonade, or an Aperol Negroni. Try the ‘pre-chop bites’, like the duck rillettes, or just hold out for the mains. Skinny chops include beef short-rib, pork loin or lamb neck, while or big chops cover huge steaks and sirloin on the bone. If you want a side to remember, don’t miss the roasted sweet potatoes, which have been oven-cooked for 10 hours!
Blacklock. 24 Great Windmill St, London, W1D 7LG
It’s tough to get a reservation in the middle of London’s theatre zone, but here’s one place that’s worth trying. If you head to Palomar’s door at 5.30PM on the dot, you might be allowed in to grab a seat at the bar, where you can watch the kings of cocktail-making in action. Breathe deep and smell the scents of Jerusalem with influences from Spain, North Africa and the Levant wafting from the kitchen. If you’re hungry, the Jerusalem mix is well worth a try – a yummy dish of chicken liver with veal sweetbread, tomato, okra and tahini. The place itself makes for a classy kind of meal – think mahogany walls and plush blue booths.
The Palomar. 34 Rupert St, London, W1D 6DN
Want something quick to eat for lunch, or a late-night snack after your Soho boozing? The buns here at Bun House are fluffy and stuffed with such yumminess as sticky pork and yam, lamb with toasted cumin, and cod with chilli oil and prawns. Choose a Chinese craft beer and if you really want to get experimental, tuck into a pig’s blood and chocolate bun (it’s sweeter than it sounds). Head downstairs to sip home made liquor amongst palm fronds and wicker chairs, to the sounds of a jukebox playing classics you probably won’t know from Hong Kong, Taipai and Singapore.
Bun House. 24 Greek Street, London, W1D 4DZ