Thursday, 18 July 2013

Soho Diner

I hardly ever review places. Firstly, I'm extremely lazy, secondly, I really don't know anything insightful about food, other than how best to get it stylishly from the plate into my face, and thirdly, there are loads of very knowledgable 'critics' out there, as we all know.
I'm far more interested in the 'going' to restaurants, the people that go in them, the styles, the scene, the trends. The evolution of 'going out for dinner' culture. The coolness of a place. That's what really interests me.

Recently I went to Soho Diner located on the former site of Boheme Kitchen on 19-21 Old Compton Street, Soho, London.

Let's start off by saying I'm not going to guff on about yet another place 'jumping on a bandwagon', 'cashing on on a trend' etc etc. Who cares if they are? And anyway, Soho House is far to clever to do that. They will have worked out exactly what to do here, timing it to perfection after some ideation conceptualisation brainstorm shower back in 1998 when diners were places where tourists, saddos and kids went with their dads after the cinema.

Now though, diners are cool again, everyone wants gooey fatty sticky food with fun-sounding names, looking like a cross between an 80s Athena poster and a Pulp Fiction prop. There's no denying cool sells, what is most fascinating is how Soho House manages to pump out little offerings of nearly-coolness, when everyone knows actual Soho House is the least cool place in London. Who on earth actually confesses to being a member there?

The room is another one of those Diner pastiches, this one with a sort of French feel, with de-riguer mis-matched chintz crockery, aluminium trimmed rounded table corners and other such clichés. Ceiling is the now ubiquitous pressed tin panels.
Kind of ironic that pressed tin ceilings began as an American cheap mass produced solution to imitate grand European plasterwork, 100 years later we now want our European rooms to be imitations of American imitations.

Anyway enough of that, here is the food.

Fries, aïoli

Fries were good, crispy and fluffy inside, aioli on the side. Aioli is a nightmare isn't it? The moment you get it, you cannot help but dip everything in it until the very end. I love it.

Honey fried chicken
Honey fried chicken drumsticks were crispy, juicy & spicy, a real delight. Hand towels a nice touch. They didn't even have that slightly stale Brick Lane hot hand towel aroma. Give it a few months though maybe.
Grilled ham & cheese fingers
You can't really go wrong with a cheese on toast, can you? This was fine.
Shrimp cocktail, chilli
Normally known as prawns. Nice sauce, with chilli & lime is great.

Soho Diner has 4 different salads on their menu:
-Wedge, blue cheese salad
- Classic Caesar salad
- Quinoa, spinach & almond salad (picture below)
- Egg, bacon & avocado salad (picture below)
You can ask to have chicken on your salad for £3 supplement (maybe a bit too much, as there was not much).
Salads were quite original especially the quinoa, spinach & almond served with chicken, it was very rich, a must order if you fancy a light quick summer lunch.
One thing - if you ask me, Caesar salads should have the little brown salty anchovies. Fresh ones (as here) don't cut it. So not my favourite ever Caesar salad.
Quinoa, spinach, almond and chicken salad
Egg, bacon, avocado and chicken salad
Philly cheese steak sandwich
Philly cheese steak sandwich is a dish I will probably order again, excellent. Horrifyingly calorific I expect.
Mac & Cheese (Cheddar, Parmesan, Mozzarella and blue cheese)
Nice Mac & Cheese. Tasty, all the four cheese flavours came through. Breadcrumbs added a nice texture. God I sound like a foodie now. It's sodding cheese and pasta, a child of 5 would eat it.
Cheeseburger (single)
Cheeseburger inside
The Cheeseburger is the same recipe as the Chicago's apparently famed Au Cheval cheeseburger, it was totally fine, maybe an extra salty touch in it would have been better. I discovered after that you can add toppings on it if you want (maybe mention on the menu?). Someone near me ordered it with eggs and bacon. Presentation reminded me of the Electric Diner burger.
Cheeseburger with eggs and bacon
Flat iron chicken
Root to Mule

Drinks menu is as you would expect from a US/French diner, mostly Californian & French wines, but the USP is that you can get cocktails on tap, a new trend has arrived in London perhaps? Purists will shriek in horror but in my opinion, Mojito, Cosmopolitan, Root to mule, Soho Collins, Negroni ready mixed for £6 is a real bargain when considering you don't have to read a copy of War and Peace while some winking, matchstick chewing cravatte wearing dude 'expertly crafts' one for you.

Go to Soho Diner, it's fine, but you already knew it would be.

Soho Diner
19-21 Old Compton street
Soho, London

I was invited to eat at Soho Diner, and I also went back a second time uninvited to try other things.

Soho Diner on Urbanspoon

Monday, 1 July 2013

Burger Top Trumps

Well what with a couple of little burger places opening this week it seems to be London Burger Week so I thought I'd celebrate with a special edition of Top Trumps with all your favourite burgers.
Yeah I know, there's loads of better ones, cooler ones whatever etc etc, but frankly I could only be arsed making 10. And that's enough for a game, right?

Thanks for images from all over the internet including: (Gourmet Burger Kitchen shot) (Lucky Chip shot)
If I've forgotten to credit you please let me know.


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