15 December 2014

Soho Food Favourites

One of the best things about living in London is that there are always plenty of exciting new places to eat. I do my best to try out as many as I can, but that doesn't mean I don't find time to revisit old favourites.

Pizza Pilgrims is one of those places. Technically, it's not an old favourite, but I've probably eaten in its restaurants and at its street-food vans at least once a month since my first visit in October last year. Their pizza is amazing: it easily makes my London pizza top three, with its thin base, satisfyingly puffy crust and delicious sauce.

On Saturday evening, my family and I were in Soho and in need of a quick but tasty meal, so we swung by the newest pizzeria in the Pizza Pilgrims family, which is on Kingly Court (NB, the main entrance is on Kingly Court — the food court at the centre of Carnaby Street — so don't be fooled if it looks like there is no queue on Kingly Street. We had to wait for about 20 minutes for a table, but before long, we were sitting at our green-checked table and admiring the wall art — one wall features take-out boxes from other pizzerias (some great, some not), and the Christmas nduja joke, which tickled my punny bone.

The Carnaby branch specialises in what they call Sohocello and you can have a delicious boozy lemon slushy from their machine, but it was a little chilly outside, so I had a Fiorente spritz, which involved, elderflower, prosecco, mint and lime and which was refreshing and delicious. I always have the margherita pizza with buffalo mozzarella (£9) because it's delicious and when your pizza is made from top-quality ingredients, you don't need a lot of complex toppings. We shared some of the deep-fried arancini and mac 'n' cheese balls to start (£5 and very good), but the fryer was broken so we couldn't try the signature starters, the pizze fritte: small, stuffed, deep-fried calzone. Another time, for sure.

When searching for a place for an early Sunday lunch yesterday, we returned to another family favourite: Hix on Brewer Street. I've been both to the restaurant and to Mark's Bar in the basement (which does some of the best cocktails in Soho) numerous times, and it never disappoints. I ordered a Pegu Club cocktail (gin, Grand Marnier, lime juice, Angostura and Bitter Truth orange bitters) and considered my next move. On Sunday lunchtimes, you can order from the regular menu and the brunch menu, but they also do cracking roasts, which makes food decisions pretty darn tough. They take their meat pretty seriously, so it's my kind of place.

We shared some oysters to start and they were very flavoursome indeed, and shucked so skilfully that it was hard to tell which ones we had eaten. In the end, I ordered the burger for my main course. You can have it bun-less, which I did, and it came with bacon, cheddar and fries (£16.95). It's a great burger: meaty and oozing with juices. The bacon was the only weak link — well-done streaky bacon rashers would have worked better. The roast beef contingent of our party also gave me serious food envy: the roast came with roast potatoes, a Yorkshire pudding and cauliflower cheese, which was probably the star of the show. I couldn't manage a pudding, but I did sample some of my Dad's Peruvian gold chocolate mousse (£7.25).

Soho sometimes gets overlooked for weekend brunch — there aren't as many fun options as in Clerkenwell or, increasingly, Peckham — but Hix is a great choice. From the fun and playful modern-art d├ęcor, to the impeccable service and the delicious food and perfectly prepared drinks, they hit all of the marks.

We finished early enough for me to pick up my few remaining bits of Christmas shopping. Oxford Street was chaos, of course, and Carnaby Street was also super-hectic but I always enjoy looking at their musical-themed Christmas decorations and this year's are pretty cool. Soho, I'm sorry for neglecting you: you are still awesome.

Pizza Pilgrims. 11 Kingly Street, London, W1B 5PW (Tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus). Website. Twitter.

Hix Soho. 66–70 Brewer Street, London, W1F 9UP (Tube: Piccadilly Circus). Website. Twitter.

1 comment:

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