Soho is the second Milk Beach opening from founder Elliot Milne, following a hugely popular debut in Queens Park. Taking inspiration from Milk Beach’s namesake in Sydney, Exec Chef Darren Leadbeater seeks to showcase the diverse cultures that influence Australian cuisine.
The Handbook contributor Katie Renouf went to visit and shares her experience at Milk Beach Soho. Looking for more reviews? Check out our Reviews Section. Looking for other new openings? Check out the best of 2022.
It is the darkest and wettest of London November evenings. I trudge my way through Soho in search of solace – which, surprisingly, is not as far away as it seems.
Emerging via a walkway from Greek Street, you are transported to a far-flung paradise – complete with palm fronds, golden hour lighting and a cocktail on the horizon. Welcome to Milk Beach.
Having opened up in September, Elliot Milne’s Milk Beach Soho occupies part of the new Warner Bros De Lane Lea site so, as you might expect, the building is a work of art. The inconspicuous brick façade hides a sleek, modern inner sanctum where Milk Beach occupies a crescent-shaped spot on the ground floor. Floor-to-ceiling glass gives a sneak peek of what lies inside and there’s also a beautifully decked-out courtyard area. This is surprisingly spacious for Soho and guaranteed to be packed when warmer evenings return.
I manage to get to my table without showering rain residue on other diners and order a mango chilli margarita to warm up – and it sure has a kick to it. Saffron-like strands on top of the drink turn out to be the finest of chilli filaments, which leave a fiery sizzle that lingers on your tongue.
The menu is a combination of classic Aussie and Asian-influenced dishes, with a wide selection that has something for everyone. Or, in our case, creating an almost impossible decision process. There is a wide array of raw dishes, smaller plates and larger main course-style dishes.
The wine offering is a broad range of bottles from independent, low-intervention producers. This is a welcome touch – and a decision that will serve them well as sustainability continues to draw focus.
We take a few words of inspiration from our helpful server and set about ordering.
Next, we try their take on a Greek salad; a large piece of salty, creamy feta topped with red onion tendrils, which we eagerly break open to reveal glistening chunks of watermelon, cucumber and tomato. This dish is heavenly – packed with a melee of textures that deliver freshness and flavour.
The potato “gems” that arrive next are gorgeous creations – squares of crispy exterior and fluffy interior, topped with buttermilk and salmon roe. This dish is comfort food in Louboutins and a fancy ballgown, and I absolutely love it.
Next, I let out an involuntary squeal as the prawn toast arrives at the table. Is it just me, or does prawn toast seems to be having a bit of a moment right now? If so, bring it on. I WANT IT ALL.
Even then, this prawn toast is quite unlike any I have eaten before. Here, fat chunks of prawn and crunchy bread lie under a blanket of toasted black and white sesame seeds, accompanied by a Gochujang sweet and sour sauce. The crispy toasted sesame seeds, the sweet al dente prawn flesh, and the smoky tangy sauce combine to give the most incredible umami flavour. This is a dish that absolutely can’t be missed.
Our savoury dishes are coming to an end, and the grand finale comes in the form of that Australian classic – chicken “schnitty”. The flattened breast has been coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried then cut into strips. It’s served with a delish fermented chilli mayo and “chicken salt” chips. I was confused to see that these were vegan; it turns out that chicken salt is just salt with various seasonings, so named because it’s a popular coating for rotisserie chicken in Australia. It also turns out to be very tasty on chips; a perfect smoky match for the mayo.
Our chosen desserts are playful twists on classic Aussie snacks – the Lamington and the Golden Gaytime. The Lamington arrives in the form of a huge dome of silky, semi-liquid mallow, which I scoop aside to discover elements of coconut, chocolate and cherry. The end product is a coconutty, marshmallowy black forest gateau – definitely, one for the sweet tooths out there.
The Golden Gaytime is a buttermilk parfait studded with toffee pieces, dark chocolate, malt and honeycomb crumble. Another one for fans of sweet dishes – and very delicious. A clever, grown-up interpretation of the ice cream that inspired it, with crispy and velvety elements.
And with a cheeky dunk of a pinky into that mallow, it’s time to bid farewell to this hidden oasis and step out into the diagonal rain that awaits us in the real world.
A definite must-try for brunch, lunch or dinner – take a mini break at Milk Beach Soho.