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12a Newburgh Street
020 3463 0197
Up a flight of stairs, Antidote’s sparse dining area feels far away from the bustling wine bar below, where aficionados can sup and swirl their way through an extensive array of natural and biodynamic bottles. The food is attention-grabbing stuff, driven by carefully sourced ingredients. Our crab and cucumber salad was enriched with a purée of brown crab meat and pointed up with green apples and fluffy cucumber mousse, while silky-soft brill fillet was paired with delectable smoked Jersey royals, before a rich chocolate moelleux hit the decadent high notes. Overall, big flavours make up for decidedly small portions, but we can’t help but feel that upstairs misses out on the more convivial fun of the bar area.
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Best wine bars in London
12a Newburgh Street
020 3463 0197
Oxford Circus Tube Station 221m
Tottenham Court Road Tube Station 512m
Carnaby Street 58m
Ganton Street 72m
Mon-Fri 12N-3pm (Served only at bar) 6-10.30pm Sat 2-10pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
The dictionary definition of antidote reads as a ‘medicine given to counteract the influence of poison, or an attack of disease.’ Fortunately, at this restaurant venue in Soho (located on the former premises of La Trouvaille), the promised solution is not medicinal, but just high-quality food and alcohol, a wonderful restorative either to the week of work (in our case) or to the hordes of tourists and shoppers on nearby Carnaby Street. The formula here is simple, but effective. There is a clear homage to France, from food to staff. We sat at the bar, snacked on some mixed charcuterie and cheese to begin, moved onto a satisfying main and accompanied this with a couple of good glasses of wine. We were impressed with the range of both meat and cheese, its freshness and flavour-intensity. Fortunately, countries other than France did merit some consideration, with ham from Italy and cheese from the UK sampled among the Gallic options. For my main, I enjoyed white asparagus, always a pleasure and especially when in-season. Rather than the default hollandaise, chef Michael Hazelwood opted for a ‘choron’ (a various on Bearnaise, with tomato paste added), which worked remarkably well. Again, there was no mistaking the freshness or provenance of the asparagus. Similarly my comrade raved about his seasonal lamb, accompanied with sweetmeats. Overall, the menu is inventive and diners also have the ability to rove across the menu, with no distinction made between starters and mains. The wine list also pleased, with many options available by the glass, and we enjoyed interesting (and fairly priced) wines both from France and Italy. What’s not to like then? Well, very simple: we were the only guests downstairs in the more informal bar area, and I believe I only saw one couple heading to the restaurant upstairs. Were we missing a trick, or are others? While my comrade and I did not struggle for conversation, it was slightly disconcerting – almost Marie Celese-like – to see no-one else there and the staff struggling to find things to do. The emptiness almost echoed. We were told it had been busy yesterday, but surely anywhere on a Friday lunchtime in Soho ought to attract some trade. Full plaudits to Antidote for what’s it’s achieved, but it ain’t going to be around much longer unless something changes…
If you're tired of London, they say, you're tired of Life. Well, if Antidote can't pick you up before then, nothing will. Walking in downstairs I'm struck by the layout, with the long bar and high stools for casual dining, and an overwhelming sense of calm. It is uncluttered, simple, sleek and looks immensely poised and elegant. Yet it is also very welcoming and relaxed: the waiting staff prop me up at the bar and pour water and then, after a suitable pause, bubbles whilst I wait for my friend. It's one of those places you could happily retreat to for a restorative lunch by yourself and not feel out of place. As it was I was here with a friend and we requested one of the few tables in the shady side passage to which we were duly moved at exactly the right moment ie after letting us catch up with aperitifs at the bar but before we felt abandoned. Pacing of the entire meal is perfect and the staff are there when you need them and gone when you don't. As to the food, we had a very reasonable set lunch menu and, extra points, this looks like it actually changes daily. Mine involved tender scallops, suckling pig and a strawberry dessert, all beautifully presented and perfectly cooked with hints of serious kitchen panache but without any pretension, and yes the bread is also very more-ish. I don't remember what wine we had but it hit the spot and I remember there was plenty of choice to placate even the most organo-phobic of wine buffs. My friend picked up the bill but as he didn't raise his eyebrows I'm sure it was reasonable. Certainly a 3 course set menu for around £25 for this food in this central location strikes me as very good value. It is all extremely assured and assuring. The name begs the question “antidote to what?”; the answer is “life, the universe and everything”.
L'Antidote is very ‘genuine’ and a welcome addition to the Carnaby St. area. The food is solid French bistro fare and quite well executed. The wines served are biological/biodynamic and I guess ‘interesting’ but very pricey at that. The two things that stand out are the dedicated and friendly service and the very snug ambiance, nice lighting and overall feel-good factor. Not cheap but a good option in this part of town.
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