SET MENU: Old Compton Street feasts, urban distilleries and hot new restaurant openings
Where to eat on Soho’s main drag
Old Compton Street: we know and love it for being the centre of Soho, synonymous with the city’s LGBTQ+ community and hazy nights out. The surrounding streets are known to be teeming with brilliant restaurants, but the main thoroughfare? Not so much, despite the fact there are a great many eateries worthy of your presence.
Most Sohoites know of Eat Tokyo but if you don’t, get to know it asap. A haven of affordable bento boxes and sushi, this speedy, never-not-bustling spot’s huge binder of dishes has something for everyone, even if you’re not a fan of fish. Meanwhile, across the street at Italian café Bar Termini, you’ll find squidgy focaccia sandwiches, cake and pastries accompanied by great coffee and distinctive Negronis. A few doors up, French inspired brasserie Cafe Boheme does a mean full English if you can face the street again the next day, a satisfyingly oozy croque monsieur and a fairly decent tuna niçoise if you’re after something a little lighter. Cecconi’s next door is brilliant to sit outside and watch the world go by while devouring the wood-fired fennel sausage pizza and jugs of Negroni Sbagliato. Plus, you can get your hands on a delightful tiramisu until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.
If you’re feeling boujie, the decadent variations on eclairs at Maitre Choux make for the perfect pud, and at Malaysian eatery Laxsa you’ll find all the classics, including bowls of laksa (obvs), coconutty nasi lemak served with accompaniments and silky, subtly spiced roti canai. Mr Ji for Asian tapas is unmissable: try the prawn cornbread toast with a steep peak of grated cheese. And, of course, there is always Poppie’s award-winning fish and chips at the Wardour Street end, which always hits the spot, especially with a generous serve of curry sauce. Hungry? We’ll see you bowling out of the Admiral Duncan.
The hot new spots across the capital
Founder of Hackney’s Tamila and ex Roti King chef Prince Durairaj is serving up excellent South Indian food, cocktails and beer inspired by his childhood at this newly reopened pub in Islington.
Now open. 115 Hemingford Rd, N1. thetamilprince.com
More pasta? Don’t mind if we do. You can now find extensions of this rapidly expanding Soho icon on the corner of Wigmore Street and Marylebone Lane, as well as in King’s Cross and the City. Order the crab linguine.
Now open. 13-15 Marylebone Ln, W1 . linastores.co.uk
Rejoice! Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich’s much-loved and uber chic Middle Eastern restaurant is back nestled in new, bigger premises in Bloomsbury. We’ll take the shakshuka, stat.
Now open. 54 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1. honeyandco.co.uk
Remember The Albion? It’s under new stewardship and with a dramatic refurb and a new name is back serving lovely plates of seasonal, modern British cuisine by expert chef Robin Freeman. Now open.
2-4 Boundary Street, E2 . boundary.london
Douglas Blyde recommends a peek inside these London distilleries
Back in 2009, Sipsmith was London’s first copper-pot-based distillery to be fired up in almost two centuries compared with 24 distilleries here today. Debuting this month beside the Turks pier in Kingston Upon Thames is Bone Idyll. Financed by customers of other venues in the Good Life hospitality collection and featuring branding of punked-up old masters, the glassy space is the brainchild of local industry stars, Sam and Alex Berry. You can attend a gin school here or sip vodka, gin and rum cocktails from the stills in your midst.
Launched in May, 58 and Co, which already boasted acclaimed gin, offers hour-long immersive experiences in its vault at Acton Mews. Guests get to craft, distil and wax seal their own gin using a blend of botanicals from a mini copper still, leaving with a bottle of their creation. The masterclass includes four cocktails, necessary sustenance and a fascinating juniper-accented history lesson.
Finally, Park Royal’s Bimber, which means ‘moonshine’ in Polish, is a nod to the roots of third-generation distiller and founder, Dariusz Plazewski. It’s already rightly famed by connoisseurs for the quality of its grain-to-glass single malt whisky, of which just one cask is made per day. In-depth production tours are available from guide, Luke.