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61 Rupert Street
Russell Norman’s ode to Manhattan cool revels in its scruffy nonchalance, with a non-descript facade that’s easy to miss. Beyond, laid-back staff and equally laid-back customers (tattoos and facial hair are de rigueur) congregate on either side of a long bar. The snack-fuelled US/Italian menu is designed to soak up some heavy drinks, including a regularly changing cocktail list which makes use of more than 10 bourbon varieties. Alternatively, grab a beer with a shot for a fiver, and get your ballast from buttermilk-fried chicken, crackling aubergine chips with a sprightly fennel yoghurt dip or crab cake and eggs Benedict, squelching out from an English muffin. The tiny room (‘27 stools and a popcorn machine’ as the restaurant puts it) has been stripped back to reveal cracked white tiles and battered walls, in what has fast become the Soho norm. Naturally, you can’t make a reservation, but the peanut butter and jam dessert is worth the wait.
To celebrate the Year of the Woman, SquareMeal is running a series of interview profiles with top female chefs. Read here about Marianne Lumb’s colourful career as a private chef and the benefits of operating one of London’s smallest kitchens.
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61 Rupert Street
Piccadilly Circus Tube Station 223m
Leicester Square Tube Station 304m
Gielgud Theatre 44m
Queen's Theatre 48m
Mon-Sat 12N-12M (Thurs-Sat -1am Sun -11pm)
Named for its famous Neal Fox ‘The Vortex’ mural, this curtained-off area is suitable for intimate parties of up to 12.
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
Spuntino is a tiny, tiny little restaurant just off Brewer St in Soho. Most of the chairs are set up at the large counter and there is seating for about 27 people. Needless to say, they’re part of the initiative that will not allow pre-booking. In fact they don’t even have a telephone. I’ve mentioned before how I really dislike that policy because most of the time, the length of the wait far outweighs the quality of the food, but not here. The food at Spuntino is exceptional.
The entire restaurant is a large rectangular counter, with seats ranged round it. It’s small menu is a mix of simple, straightforward food – Croque Monsieur, salads, sliders, steak and eggs, pizzetta. It’s not fancy but it is basic food prepared very well. Sometimes it feels like a lot of new restaurants have forgotten to do that.
My friend is vegetarian and since we were sharing, we had the zucchini, chilli and mint pizzetta, the pickled onion rings, Spuntino slaw and mac & cheese. I’m not a fan of zucchini (or courgettes, whatever name they take) but the pizzetta was just amazing The courgettes were perfectly combined with the other ingredients so all the flavours married together. It was very light too. I was honestly ambivalent about the onion rings but then I’ve never been a fan and though they were tasty, I didn’t love them. My friend did though. The slaw was crisp and because it hadn’t been diced into the usual very small pieces, the flavours were really clear and very good. It hadn’t been diced to death and there I think the most impressive and wonderful dish was the mac and cheese. It’s surprisingly easy to get mac and cheese just a little wrong. Too much heavy cheese, or too many fancy ingredients and it becomes a chore to eat. This was perfect. It was the exact right balance of pasta and cheese and whatever else they added to it. Just brilliant. I’m getting hungry thinking about it.
All that food combined with a very reasonably priced bottle of white wine.
The service is impressive. Not because they’re attentive – though they are but then they are slightly trapped in that middle area with the diners surrounding them. The service is impressive because even though there were people waiting, not once did I feel I was being pushed to hurry up and vacate my stool. They’re efficient and friendly too.
It’s incredible how one single restaurant visit can either entice you to try other restaurants by the same chef/restaurateur or else completely sour you on the entire experience. I haven’t tried any of Russell Norman’s other ventures but if this is the quality of food and service I can expect, then they are definitely now high on my list. Spuntino is the very best of diner food and I wish we had more like this in London.
Food + drink: 5
Amazing food, attentive service. Will definitely come back again!!
Had a brilliant night here with friends – we weren't in a rush so queued down the side with a bottle of wine and chatted away. Really lovely food – taken old american classics and turned it into bite size tapas. worth a visit
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