Me and the lunch spots of Soho are in the honeymoon period of what I hope will be a long and loving relationship. We want to spend time together every single day and I can’t stop telling my friends just how perfect we are for each other. They can’t bear it. They’re ready to tell me to slow down, keep my options open and I’m not going to listen!
Our love affair started with lunch from the Skandinavian kitchen, a cafe-shop that stocks Scandinavian groceries for home cooking as well as a variety of salads and open sandwiches to eat in or take out for lunch at a reasonable £5 for 3 mix and match tasters. A salad of plump and juicy artichokes dressed with spring onions, feta, almonds and parsley was the perfect fresh and light partner to an indulgent open sandwich of salami, crispy fried onions and creamy remoulade on rich chocolatey rye. The cake selection, especially the Kladdkaka (sticky Swedish chocolate cake) looks utterly delicious too.
Soho showed me its sophisticated side at a set lunch (2 courses for £16.50) at Newman Street Tavern, a busy and bustling pub smack bang in the middle of Fitzrovia that specialises in British seasonal fare. Popular around the table was a simple salad of crunchy kohlrabi dressed with capers, delicate rings of red onion and parsley and a main course of pork faggot, spiked suitably with offal served on a bed of creamy mash potato. Due to the price point, it’s not one I’ll be frequenting regularly but it’s good to know an option is there for a good quality, full meal that will get you served, seated, fed and back at your desk within the hour. Just make sure you have a coffee on hand at 4pm, this isn’t the sort of food that will lead to a particularly productive afternoon.
Soho continued to impress when Ceviche launched its new Spring menu. For £9, you can choose one of their more generous small plates including their hugely popular Don Ceviche or Panza & Higo (pork skewers with slow cooked figs) and pair it with either a heritage tomato salad or kale with Huancaina sauce, a delicious sweet and spicy blend of feta, Peruvian peppers and evaporated milk. Soho then proved it could nurse me through a hangover when the new branch of Honest Burgers opened on Market Place last week. The small, independent group has it’s flagship site in Brixton so I’m finding great comfort in knowing that those rosemary chips are now within 5 minutes walk from both my home AND my office when I need them the most.
Abeno Too won my friends over through the theatrical performance of cooking okonomiyaki, a pancake made from cabbage, flour, egg, chopped pickled ginger and filled with ‘whatever you want’, the translation of ‘okonomiyaki’. It’s made fresh on a searing hot plate right in front of you and according to my friend The Hearty Bento who impressed us all by ordering her entire meal in Japanese, it’s very true to the dishes found on the streets of Osaka. It’s probably not the best if you’re in a rush as the process of each one being made to order is a slow one but if you have time, the results are very much worth it.
Tips for new places to try to keep our honeymoon period going strong would be gratefully recieved.