19-21 Old Compton Street London W1D 5JJ (map)
Soho Diner is a “French-American inspired” restaurant from the Soho House Group. Opening in the heart of Soho, can it repeat the phenomenal success of their recent food ventures, ‘Chicken Shop‘ and ‘Dirty Burger‘ in the West End?
Soho is an extremely competitive marketplace for any restaurant, with such a cornucopia of choices in the vicinity, any restaurant opening must either have an excellent location or excellent food. Fortunately for Soho Diner they seem to have both.
Unusually for a Soho venue, the heart of cocktail-land, some cocktails are available on tap. The “Cocktail on Tap – All 6” menu section, inexplicably only lists 5 cocktails on the menu. Mojito, Cosmopolitan, Root to Mule, Soho Collins, Negroni. The staff tell me that the cocktails are “made fresh on the premises every morning” so this isn’t a ‘barrel aged‘ affair, but a very quick way to serve cocktails, for some cocktails I can see this working. The ‘Root to Mule’ was great, the negroni was pretty good, but a little on the sweet side for me, but then again I have a dry palate.
The selection of starters (or small plates) are quite varied. Nine plates are available including ‘Raw veg, dips’, ‘Fries with aioli’, ‘Honey fried chicken’, ‘Grilled ham and cheese fingers’, ‘Shrimp cocktail, chilli’
The shrimp cocktail is something I don’t normally like, I usually find them stuff with tiny prawns and a sickeningly sweet sauce. However this one was fantastic. Nice sizable prawns (not the usual tiny shrimp which passes for prawn) served on a nice bed of gem lettuce, topped with chives and a sprinkle of chilli.
The ‘Flat Iron Chicken‘ intrigued me as I imaged a butcher extracting a tiny tiny piece of chicken shoulder. (See this on Flat Iron Steak if you have no clue what I’m talking about). However I was told that it was called Flat Iron due to the flattened shape and preparation method. I find that chicken is one of those dishes which is easy to turn into a dried heap of tough fibrous mess. Not in this case, this was succulent and damn tasty. I didn’t add any sauces as I didn’t want to spoil the taste. Highly recommend this dish. Clearly the Soho House group haven’t lost the expertise from ‘Chicken Shop‘.
Others guests on my table ordered the burger which was offered with additional toppings. One appeared to have avocado and slices of pork belly, the other had bacon. Curiously a “burger” has 2 patties, and a “double burger” actually has three. I didn’t get to the bottom of why this is the case. But I’m sure that it will be a pleasant surprise for the unaware!