NFT London Soho (East)

Soho (East)

While The Three Greyhounds (opposite Soho House) might be one of the cheapest pubs in central London, Jazz After Dark on Greek Street certainly isn't, but it does have an undeniably attractive ambiance. Blend in with the winos at Soho Square with a shop-bought bottle while G-A-Y showcases the more colourful side of Soho.


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Posted By:  Lee Mannion
Photo:  Lee Mannion

The Ivy
Seems somewhat against the whole idea of NFT no? To recommend The Ivy? To set out my table before embarking on what turns up on theirs, I only got to go as someone else was paying. Check out the website--frankly, it ain't cheap. If you find yourself a bit flush and you're forward thinking enough to have booked 3 months in advance, you get a good amount of bang for your buck. For starters, a beautiful, buzzy room, guaranteed (given its fame) to have every table occupied. The amazing thing is this does not impinge on the service, with stiff backed perfectly mannered staff who seem intent on giving you a dining experience that will prove memorable. Dorset crab with celeriac rémoulade (sounds poncey--it just means 'condiment') was light and fresh but my taste buds began to sing when the main turned up. Best end of Cornish lamb (lamb chops as it turned out) were a perfect pink without being chewy and the creamy anchovy and dauphinoise spuds that accompanied them made a cliché true: they literally did melt in the mouth. Some of the best food I've ever had, in one of the nicest places.

Posted By:  Justine Forrest
Photo:  Justine Forrest

Angels Fancy Dress
There are two types of people in this world. Those who love fancy dress and those who would rather gnaw their own arm off than dress up in costume. I was firmly in the latter camp until I discovered Angels. You won't find any tacky plastic maids outfits in Angels, but you will find pretty much everything else. These are high quality costumes for the discerning reveller. There is an emphasis on the Victorian perhaps because that is when the shop was founded. There are beautiful costumes to buy or to hire, but where the shop particularly excels is in its array of masks. There are walls of them, in every colour imaginable, ranging from the simple to lavish. So Angels has converted me to fancy dress and now I'm just waiting to be invited to a party so I've an excuse to shop here.

Posted By:  Justine Forrest
Photo:  Justine Forrest

Caffe Vergnano 1882
Caffe Vergnano on Charing Cross Road proudly declares its credentials as winner of What's On in London Cafe of the Year in 2005/2006. And whilst it is right to be proud of this achievement, it does somewhat beg the question "what has happened to it since?" On my visit, I would say it was still a pretty good little coffee shop. It certainly made a change from the ubiquitious chains that dominate central London. The coffee wasn't bad either. My latte came in a glass mug with the number 1882 piped into the foam which was a nice touch. A delicious dark chocolate covered coffee bean was served on the side, which again was the little things that make for a good cafe. But where it failed to deliver was the service. Despite the history of the cafe as an Italian family run business, the staff were unsmiling Eastern Europeans, who were efficient but not exactly providing the warm welcome you'd expect from an award winner.

Posted By:  Justine Forrest
Photo:  Justine Forrest

Magma sells the sort of products that you never knew you needed or things that you really don't need, but after seeing you really MUST have them. Their carefully chosen stock includes crockery and bags by ultra hip designers People Will Always Need Plates, mugs by The Big Tomato Company, animal cushions by Salvor and cute stationery by Sukie. You may not have heard of these names, but trust me, they are very much the bright young things of the design world. There are lots of mugs, cotton shopping bags, Moomin prodcts, and quirky craft kits. Everything in here would make a great gift. Just be careful--the major problem I have buying presents here is that I want to keep them all for myself. In fact next Christmas or birthday, I might just direct people to Magma.

Posted By:  Justine Forrest
Photo:  Justine Forrest

The Internet has mortally wounded the independent record shop. Fopp was once a mighty chain of indie music shops, but was almost completely wiped out of existence. Thankfully, HMV came to the rescue so a handful of the shops have lived on, and we should be truly grateful. Fopp is mainly a music store, with the whole of the top floor dedicated to CDs, divided by genre and at prices that usually make them worth buying rather than downloading. They have CDs as cheap as £3, with all of their prices nice round numbers. The selection is wide, but it still maintains the feel of an indenpdent shop. But cheap music isn't the only reason to shop at Fopp. It also sells books and DVDs, again usually undercutting the mainstream competition. Books start as low as £2 with an emphasis on cult literature, music and populist non-fiction. In terms of film, their world cinema section is particularly impressive. Their staff seem to actually know about the stuff they are selling which makes a nice change. I've actually had a conversation about literature with a cashier in here, which is something the Internet can't quite provide.

Posted By:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow

Le Beaujolais
Aaaah, le vin, le pain, le stinky cheese. Where in London can you find some genuine bonhomie, un peu de joie de vivre, and yes, some really stinky cheese? Slap bang in the middle of Soho of course! This little find reminds me of an expat's bar in the far-flung reaches of Africa or Far East. "But why is it in Centrale Londinium and run by thee cheese-eating surrender monkeys from across the Channel," ye cry? Because Continental Europeans have a marvellous way of setting up home in any part of the world--and it really could be anywhere, it makes no difference where, but they always manage to successfully transplant a piece of the motherland just as it is and annoyingly effortlessly. Perhaps it is a state of mind but all the food and wine here is also imported directly from France. At the bar you will jostle elbows with moustachioed Gallic regulars as well as the after-work crowd looking for a little je ne sais quoi. Good wine, good food, good conversation--what more do you want?  

Posted By:  Julia Dennison
Photo:  Julia Dennison

Maison Bertaux
Maison Bertaux is one of those London patisseries that warrants every minute of your time on a rainy Sunday, when the windows fog up and the warm candle-coloured glow of the walls compliment the rosy-cheeked children supping bowls of hot chocolate. Oh it's all so f-ing idyllic it's almost puke-able. The people who run the shop are veritable characters who take pride in their over-the-top pastry creations. When I stopped in, the guy behind the counter was munching away on a piece of buttery confectionery--not that I blamed him in the least. Here's the stuff that dreams are made on--if dreams consist of glazed piles of fruit sunk into beds of custard and flaky filo dough. And when you're here, they pretty much are.

Posted By:  Daniel Kramb
Photo:  Daniel Kramb

57 Greek Street
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the most important blue door in all of London. Seriously. If you find it (at the northern end of Greek Street) all your long-held, and probably long-unfulfilled, Soho dreams will come true. Step down the carpet-covered stairs and you're in the middle of a small, unashamedly shabby basement bar, where the artists, actors and writers who love this place (and their would-be equivalents) have already started the party. It's wonderfully unpretentious. It's shambolic. It's inexpensive (for these parts). And, yes, it's open way past that dreaded Soho 11 pm watershed. Welcome to your new central London living room. Drinking here feels like being part of a secret members' club, but there's no fee, there's no code. All you have to do is find the door.

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