A Foodie’s Guide to Restaurants and Eating in Soho
The buzz of Soho’s restaurants makes it one of the most unique and vibrant places in London – if not the world. But it can be hard to know where to eat – even if you know the area well, each street and alleyway is littered with exciting & frequently changing foodie options from gourmet restaurants to delis and funky cafes – in all manner of culinary styles. Here’s our guide to some of the best restaurants to try in this part of town.
Best Restaurants For Small Groups
Soho is littered with townhouses that have evolved into iconic restaurants, giving the area much of its unique charm and ambience. Charlotte Street at the top of Soho houses three of our favourites, from the French bistro Elena’s L’Etoile, founded by the iconic 80s restaurant manager Elena Salvoni and with four private rooms for parties ranging from 10 – 30, each room is steeped in history and signed pictures of ‘A’ List actors and celebrities – worth a visit in themselves.
A little further down, Bam Bou – which is close to my heart having attended a delightful gourmet hen night there – boasts not just a stunning restaurant and four private dining rooms up and down the creaky staircase, but also features the uber-cool Red Bar at the top for up to 60 and available for private hire or to retire to after dinner.
In the heart of Soho the newly refurbished L’Escargot has three stunningly refurbished private rooms, with Brian Clivaz (of Home House and The Arts Club pedigree) managing, once again, to capture the zeitgeist of today’s demand for relaxed chic yet playful luxury.
Wright Brothers on Kingly Court, the most recent part of Soho to evolve, offers diners ‘The Cage’ – a truly different and funky space for up to 30 guests, with its lobster pot style metal cage walls surround by the kitchen pass. They even hold oyster tastings there for private parties – the ideal chance to sample some of Wright Brother’s renowned home grown and other top class crustacean and fish.
Best Restaurants For Large Groups
Continuing our townhouse theme, because that’s what so much of Soho is, Kettner’s has four of them all knocked together allowing larger parties up to 80 to enjoy these unique spaces. The oak panelled Apartment private room with its grand piano and secret stairwell is a classic Soho destination, while the other six private rooms are lighter in Farrow & Ball décor and often used for wedding receptions, product launches and birthdays etc.
Our other favourite for larger parties has to be The Elysee – don’t be fooled by its unassuming exterior – stunning Georgian drawing rooms form the party space on the first and second floors which can hold up to 65 seated guests on each floor (up to 250 for exclusive use) with a fantastic heated and covered terrace for 60. It great for enjoying the Greek flair for mixing fun and fabulous food. Its smashed plate chandelier is mesmerising.
Best Restaurants for Cocktails
For big bashes, the unashamedly decadent Aqua Spirit with views over Oxford Street, scooped the coveted London Bar of the Year at the London Lifestyle Awards last year – definitely worth checking out the amazing balcony which overlooks Oxford Street, as well as the fabulous cocktails and beautiful people at the bar.
In a totally different style, Mark’s Bar at Hix is the retro-chic antidote to Aqua. Its appeal comes from its understated design – part of Hix’s trademark cool. The bar, which can be hired exclusively for events up to 100 people (standing) also comes with Hix’s trademark Brit-inspired cocktails.
Best Restaurants For Quick Bites
The trend for tapas and small plates is seemingly unstoppable but at Bocca di Lupo and Dehesa, they do it better than most. At Bocca, the long marble bar entices guests to try just one more freshly made antipasti – or even have a party in their private room downstairs where their antipasti comes in long platters filling the table in true Roman-festivity style.
Meanwhile Dehesa’s bijou site just behind Regent Street is perfect for the mid-shop pick me up, with diners spilling out onto Ganton Street – one of Soho’s newer foodie destinations. For more discrete dining but with a stylishly cosy feel, its private room downstairs for up to just 8 guests is perfect for winter get togethers and private gourmet appreciations.
Best Restaurants for Foodies
We can’t talk about Soho without mentioning Jason Atherton – arguably the reigning golden boy of Soho with two Michelin starred restaurants: Social Eating House in Poland Street and his original triumph, Pollen Street Social just a stone’s throw away in Mayfair. However, our top tip not to be overlooked is another Michelin starred gem, found at Alex Gauthier’s eponymous restaurant. Awarded a star within a year of opening, Gauthier’s private rooms range from elegantly chic dining rooms, to a wine cellar and more fun and funky offers at the top – ideal for the younger crowd who want great cuisine but without the formality.