A perennial favourite with SquareMeal readers (and staff), Jason Atherton’s buzzy Soho outpost is at the heart of the capital’s ‘fun-dining’ scene. Laid-back, stylish and “reliably delicious”, it’s the antithesis of stuffy haute cuisine despite its Michelin-starred status.
The interior resembles a smart steakhouse, complete with deep booths, chalkboards, bare tables and seats at the counter, although the beauty of the place is its flexibility. You can pop in for a charcoal-grilled Cumbrian rump steak and a bottle of Burgundy or opt for chef-patron Paul Hood’s “amazing chef’s table” experience with accompanying wine flights.
We opted for something in between – a three-course feast with wines chosen by the charming sommelier – and were mightily impressed. Devon crab came prettily dressed with chive flowers and accompanied by brown crab mayonnaise and an almond gazpacho that set the whole dish off perfectly. Meanwhile, broccoli was given a five-star makeover for a mouth-watering vegan starter good enough to tempt even the most committed carnivore. Paired with lemon puree, almond, and a wild garlic and hazelnut pesto, it was everything all at once – sweet, smoky, sharp and oh-so-moreish.
We were also bowled over by a combo of turbot with ceps, pearl barley and a rich mushroom tea, and a dish of miso aubergine with silky burnt aubergine puree, bursts of tamarind, fine beans and creamy coconut that made it almost dessert-like. To round things off, we delved into a flawless self-saucing chocolate pudding accompanied by a zingy passion-fruit ice cream, and a sort-of fine dining Eton mess with black olive, black pepper and lemon balm. It sounds weird, but it worked exceedingly well.
The impressively curated wine list seeks out something different (the sommelier introduced us to a refreshing bin from Cyprus), while service is “excellent” without being obtrusive. We’d also recommend heading upstairs to the Blind Pig bar for a pre- or post-prandial cocktail. “My favourite place in London!” concludes one impressed reader.