From a modern chophouse to an urban tearoom to a joint specialising in mashed potato, Soho is home to many fine British restaurants, some of which have become landmarks of the neighbourhood in their own right.
Known as The Great Dame of Dean Street, Quo Vadis
has quite the colourful history. It’s been a brothel, home to Karl Marx and one of the most glamorous restaurants in town. Now owned by the Hart brothers, also owners of Barrafina, with Jeremy Lee heading up the kitchen, Quo Vadis is elegant without being stuffy. The menu, featuring dishes like daily pie and mash, smoked eel sandwich and jellied pork terrine with pickles, is a celebration of British cuisine. The place may have shrunk in size since Barrafina took up residence on the ground floor but it’s had no impact on the atmosphere.
Balans Soho Society
Restaurant, British, $$$
The big draw of Balans
is undoubtedly its extended opening hours: service runs from breakfast through to sunrise the following day, meaning whatever time of day (or night) you drop by, you’re guaranteed to be well fed and watered. You can find everything from a Full English breakfast to club sandwiches to fish and chips as well as plates from further afield, plus a strong drinks list, perfect if you want to keep the party going that bit longer.
Social Eating House
Restaurant, British, European, $$$
Social Eating House
is serial restaurateur Jason Atherton’s take on a contemporary bistro. With its exposed brick walls and restored furniture, the place feels informal yet the quality of the cooking is anything but. Seasonal British produce like Cornish hake, Buccleuch Black Angus beef and Salt Marsh lamb is the star of this modern menu that strikes a great balance between traditional dishes and more playful flavour combos. Be sure to leave yourself some extra time either before or after your meal for a cocktail in the upstairs bar The Blind Pig.
Damson & Co
Cafe, Restaurant, British, European
A coffee shop by day, come evening Damson & Co
switches from serving Ozone brews, breakfast and pastries to wine and small plates. The British charcuterie and cheese selections pair perfectly with their wine list and they also have a great gin selection if you fancy something a little stronger.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, British, $$$
Vegetarians should look away now because it’s all about chops at basement bar and restaurant (formerly a brothel in true Soho
. In fact the menu is so centred around these cuts of meat that there aren’t any starters, only canapé-like pre-chop bites and a handful of side dishes. You can choose from big chops or skinny chops, depending on your appetite, but to get a true taste of Blacklock, go ‘all-in’ – that’s a sharing platter of the day’s selection of skinny chops piled on a flatbread plus a side per person – and wash it down with one of their five pound cocktails.
Urban Tea Rooms
Cafe, Restaurant, Tea Room, British, $$$
As the name suggests, Urban Tea Rooms
puts a city twist on the traditional country tearoom. Loose-leaf teas, fairtrade coffee, sandwiches and handmade cakes are available during the day with a British tapas menu, including award-winning charcuterie and cheese boards, being served from 6pm alongside wine and British beers and ciders.
The Queen's Head
Pub, British, Pub Grub, $$$
Going since 1736 and is still independent to this day, The Queen’s Head
is a fantastic example of a quintessential English pub and smack bang in the middle of the West End no less. Traditional pub grub is the focus here, with the pies being particularly good, which all goes very well with a pint of one of their real ales.
A restaurant specialising in freshly made mashed potato might sound a bit gimmicky but at the heart of Mother Mash
is good old-fashioned British comfort food. Decked out like a Victorian pie and mash shop complete with white tiles and marble tabletops, Mother Mash is the perfect place to indulge in some hearty grub. You can have your mash joined by free-range sausages or a pie and topped with a generous slug of gravy, and if you’ve room, finish it off with a classic British sponge pudding.