Soho could have easily been named Tally Ho! The name Soho was apparently coined as it was the hunting cry of Duke of Monmouth, rather than the more common ‘tally ho’. We can’t decide which would have been better, but in any case ‘tally ho!’ to all these restaurant options in one of London’s most diverse and exciting areas. It’s a place where five star hotels jostle with brothels, where chic meets grit and where the food is always excellent. Welcome to Soho.
It’s all in the name at this snazzy Soho spot. ROBATA, new to Soho, seeks to pop Asian flair on par with 21st century creativity using its robata charcoal cooking methods, championing sharing plates and their famed robata skewers. At the helm? Head Chef Charles Lee, whose influence has seeped across various Michelin starred restaurants. A peek at the menu, made predominantly for sharing, allows the customers to recognise his strong command of Asian cuisines through the creativity of ingredients used.
Great for: Skewers are a must; they’re the restaurant’s signature, and use impressive cuts of meat cooked over hot charcoal. Oh, and sake!
Brewer street certainly got lucky over Christmas as Both Wild Rice and Mamasan flung their doors open, both of which reside in the same building. Wild Rice is all about bold is beautiful, with flavours oozing vibrancy and reinvention. Thai favourites are partnered with seasonal British ingredients which, at first might seem like an embarkation from the norm, but it’s worth admiring their quest to implement something new into London’s Thai scene. The atmosphere is buzzing, the tables intricately placed in close proximity, and the space is small holding not many covers. And yet it all adds to that Thai food dining experience, akin to one you might find in Bangkok Old Town, which is where the concept reaps some of its cuisine influence from.
Wild Rice favours sharing plates and despite going in with an appetite the size of Jupiter, you’ll have to give sharing food a go – a foreign concept for most we bet. Highlights include the sharing tofu nuggets with creamy satay sauce; the tofu os so gelatinous that it also melts in your mouth a bit like the tofu version of marmite – you’re either going to love or hate this. Plus, Thai Rice Berry is a Thai superfood grain with a vitamin-rich purple pigment and it is moreish. If you get just one dish, make it the Thai rice berry.
Great for: Rice, obvs.
Soho’s Berwick Street is a treasure trove of creative and eclectic eateries, positioned just a wander away from the main drag of Oxford Circus, paved with a sea of shopping bag swingers making their way to their first G&T of the day. And, after shopping, why not make your way to Fatt Pundit? The restaurant, which intertwines the flavours of India and China in its dishes (named Hakka), is positioned amongst others, fairly inconspicuously, and entry sees you whirled straight to a seat at the centrepiece bar. Fatt Pundit keeps it simple with interiors; inside it’s loud, buzzy and, we’re told, is booked out for weeks to come which must come as a relief for the owners, who also threw open the doors to London’s Bombay Chow, Station 31 and Imperial Lounge.
Yet, your eyes aren’t tempted to people watch, you’re unphased by eavesdropping on the table next to you and there isn’t the temptation to whirl in, eat and leave. It’s an immersive food experience that leaves your mouth burning and your water glass empty. Whirled onto our table in a no-nonsense fashion, Fatt Pundit adopts a dish-on-table-once-it’s-ready mentality, with food arriving sporadically and fast. Must-try’s are the crackling spinach that adoringly mixed sweet with savoury and from rabbit wontons to lollipop chicken, the menu packs a promise and a punch, with a real focus around chilli.
Great for: Spice, buzzy atmosphere and super fast service
Viet Lounge; as the name suggests, it’s an oasis of all things Vietnamese! It’s just like a house filled with Vietnamese food on all levels. Viet Lounge, at the top, features a central counter where you can pull up a pew. It’s a simple interior, with colourful detailed walls and black stools, making the bar the focal point… and there’s nothing wrong with that! The menu is adorned with a whole host of Vietnamese small plates, from octopus salsa to bang bang king prawns and crispy soft-shell crab. There are 16 bar food options all together and, if summer bod goals are a thing of the past, we suggest you try them all.
Rustling up some serious black magic behind the bar is the fabulously creative mixologist who designed the cocktails on the list, Alex Looi, formerly the Head Barman at The Dorchester Hotel. The vivacious cocktail card displays eccentric names including the Lemongrass Bubble, the Skiddoo and the Call Me Maybe – and trust us, there’s no maybe about it, we’ll be calling back!
Great for: Vietnamese food and cocktails – if you love espresso martini’s then be sure to try Black Magic, Viet Lounge’s scrumptious take on the classic.
It’s the famed ‘press for Champagne’ restaurant and we can’t recommend Bob Bob Ricard more! Set amongst a buzzing Soho, this atmosphere is then replicated on the inside in this “place to be” parlour of creative colour. Bob Bob has that luxurious eccentricity to it and Soho struck gold with this restaurant when it opened up ten years ago!
Like a great Gatsby party fused with the electric colours of the recent unicorn and doughnut chairs in swimming pools phase. It’s glam, it’s shiny it’s rich in midnight blues and pastel pinks, and it’s ridiculously suave. There’s Prussian blue leather blanketing the restaurant, which works wonders against marble and surrounding tables clad with pastel pink plates and crystal everywhere. Just walking through the door transports you to some Russian oligarch style house. The executive head chef Eric Chavot has an impressive Michelin star scattered CV, one from Brasserie Chavot and two from The Capital. The menu serves English and Russian classics, a glam take on traditional comfort food, and, last year, introduced a few select vegan dishes.
Great for: All things glam and Champagne, of course.
The foodie haven that is Soho houses new Scarlett Green, located on the metropolitan Noel Street. A short drift from the tube past the buzz of diners and drinkers. The looks of the Daisy Green collection need no introduction, famed for their eccentric and rebellious art work booming out against chipped grey walls, issuing a run-down art gallery in a desolate warehouse vibe. Scarlett Green doesn’t shy away from this either, with neon head-turners lining the walls and a wanderlust worthy photograph of Bondi beach, in keeping with the Aus theme. The bar is awash with jumbles of spirits, wines and atmosphere, with pastel washed stools lining the marble bar. Plush sofas, quite 80s reminiscent outline the restaurant below hangings of Roy Lichtenstein-style art. Over all, it’s a sexy Antipodean-inspired space.
If you’ve taken a “gap-yah” to Aus and have been dreaming of those crystal coast lines, shrimps on the barbie and cork hats ever since, Scarlett Green is a good bet at helping to take you back, without the air miles and cost! The menu draws on Melbourne and Sydney café culture, with a range of small and large plates of food as imaginative and easy on the eye as the art lining the walls. They cater for foodies all round, with vegan and vegetarian options galore.
Great for: Antipodean cuisine and Instagrammable interiors
Nestled inside the gorgeous Soho Hotel is Refuel Bar & Restaurant, a place that does just what it says on the tin. Serving up an encyclopaedic menu, the restaurant doesn’t go too off-piste with its offerings, instead keeping it quintessentially British using fresh and seasonal produce. You’ll sit in elegant surroundings with breakfasts, brunches, afternoon teas and a la carte meals on offer. Menu highlights include the salmon and tiger prawn curry and the refuel beef burger (or, well, just anything from the menu)!
Soho Hotel itself has two state-of-the-art screen rooms with red leather and cowhide seats. These can be hired for private screenings, press launches and business presentations. So, if you’re boasting a food coma after dinner then why not recline in the hotel’s cinema? Cosy!
Great for: Cosiness, seasonal produce and a post-dinner cinema!
Pull up a pew at the counter of Kiln and watch as flames fly, chefs dally about in mad excitement and the heat of the kitchen hits your face. The Thai restaurant sitting snug in Soho creates queues down the street with its coveted fare. In 2018, the fiery venue secured a top spot at the National Restaurant Awards, climbing up eight places from 2017. It’s a hot spot, both concerning popularity and food, which bursts with vibrant and spicy Thai flavours. Co-owner Ben Chapman wows with his charcoal-fired cooking with flavours influenced by the regions where Thailand borders Burma, Laos and Yunnan, all the while keeping British produce in mind.
When you’re there, make sure you try the epic fried curry of monkfish and wild ginger and beef neck curry from Burma. Kiln is an apt spot for both express dining and date-night and truly highlights the eclectic range of food found in Soho.
Great for: Spice, spicy baby! As well as counter-dining and innovative dishes.
It’s the classic restaurant story, from Brixton shipping container to permanent Soho restaurant, Kricket was the brainchild of Will Bowlby and Rik Campbell. Despite decidedly un-Indian names, the cuisine of Anglo-Indian small plates combining classic British ingredients with the authentic flavours of India they’ve certainly got a hit on their hands.
Spread over two floors, the restaurant includes an open kitchen with counter dining, a subterranean cocktail bar and a really annoying reservations policy that only lets you book for four or more. So date night’s off. But if you can get a seat, you’ll love it, guaranteed.
Great for: Communal dining
Entered through what for all intents and purposes looks like a sex shop, La Bodega Negra is an extraordinary find, serving fine Mexican food and despite its credentials, without a sex toy in sight. Once you’ve walked past the gimp-suited mannequin and descended into the basement restaurant you’re transported from grimy Soho to Mexico City.
The food is authentic and has a real home-made feel to it, and the cocktails (especially the margaritas) are top-notch. The loud music and hubbub just add to the atmosphere.
Great for: Quirkiness, a great place for an off-beat date
Hix is elegant, suave and cool, with its leather banquettes and oak surroundings you could be in a gentleman’s club, and not the sort that surround it. The panelled private dining room is particularly smart. Fish takes centre-stage at Hix Soho, with Mark Hix’s expert skills shining in a tour de force. Also shining are Damien Hirst’s mobiles, which are curious but celebrated.
Check out Mark’s Bar, downstairs, for the cocktails and intimate surroundings
Great for: Posh dining, and fish, of course
Where: 66-70 Brewer Street, London, W1F 9UP, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus (0.2 miles)