Saturday, 5 March 2016

Old Tom & English, Wardour Street - Review

(Update: Old Tom & English is now Dum Biryani House)

As you walk along Wardour Street towards Old Tom & English, you may feel smug in the knowledge that the many Londoners and tourists queuing up to get into current restaurants like Busaba Eathai and Wahaca will still be waiting in the street once you are snugly ensconced in a sub-terranean alcove. An unobtrusive doorway with a simple brass bell is the only indication, and without insider knowledge, you could easily just walk on by.

If you are expected, as Adrienne and I were, you will be greeted by the hostess, given a card from the deck to check your coat, and escorted down to a 18th century basement converted to a dining area and a bar, with intimate alcoves and several smaller cave-like nooks. Low lighting and low ceilings, low couches and an open fireplace give off relaxing vibes and the background music is subtlety familiar.

Vintage cocktails: A twists on the classic gin and fizz French 75, the OT&E 75 is sweet yet refreshing. For something more of a libation, try a classic Negroni, if you dare. Many more specialities are on offer on the distinguished cocktail list, and beautifully, elegantly presented.

Food: small plates and sharing platters of modern British cuisine. An ever-changing menu means there is much to try and a little bit of everything is the way to go. We loved the BBQ Portobello mushroom, deep-friend artichoke hearts and, strangely enough, cauliflower croquettes. Flavoursome puree and vegetable crisps make for interesting garnishes.

The staff were delightful. We felt looked after yet the intimacy of the alcove with it's horizontal film-star-dressing-room lighting meant we could privately dissect every dish we tried. Wine by the glass doesn't come cheap, but quality is assured.

We pondered the history of Old Tom's. In the heart of old Soho, a venue named for notable Soho madams, what may or may have taken place, what debauchery, and how the vintage cocktails and imitate space reflect this. It feels exclusive, and it feels like a secret that may or may not get out.

Old Tom & English
187b Wardour Street

Meal/Sharing plate for two, with wine and cocktails ~£80
Reservations essential

Read my review for LoveFoodLoveDrink.

Photos courtesy of Crisp Media.

Square Meal

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