Someone once said that the only thing that never changes is that things will change. (Or something like that). London is always changing and that one thing that I really love. Love how the changes subtly happen in areas that you don’t visit that often. One of the quickest changing areas for me is Soho, other than the areas that I’ve lived in, it’s the one area of town that I’ve spent in varying levels of drunkenness in.
It’s fun to regale the history of what used to be in each location… Like the Fetish Shop that became a Hotel Chocolate, then The Nata café. How about my favourite late night sandwich shop, Old Compton Café that somehow became another less flamboyant Balan’s.
How about the video game arcade on Old Compton Street where you used to be able to play that dancing game in the window (Such good memories of that place) that became soulless eatery that was Muriel’s to its latest incarnation of the Old Compton Brasserie.
The first thing that I noticed about the refit of OCB was how spacious it became. I think it’s down to some clever mirrored ceiling action (how very Soho). All the design elements that you’d expect with a brasserie are there… zinc tables, cane chairs, brown leather bar stools and mosaic tiled floor. The space feels very vibrant along and that is amplified with the vibrancy of its staff.
The cocktail list is impressive and was developed by the Talented Mr Fox. Really loved the nod to all the legends of Soho… Like Paul Raymond, Francis Bacon, Charles Dickens and Ruby Venezuela. It was a hard decision to choose from the list but had to go with the legend that was Regina Fong. I only got to see her perform once so I thought this was an apt drink.
The menu reads exactly how an English Brasserie should read with a mix of French Bistro staples and classic British dishes with French finesse. There is a really large plant-based section of the menu which looked rather interesting and something that I’ll explore on another visit.
I went with a sensible Franco/English selection for lunch of scotch eggs and onglet with a heritage tomato salad. Scotch eggs had a smoked haddock and rice layer around a perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg complete with a resplendent jammy golden hued yolk. Accompanied with a curry mayo, this was like a deep-fried ball of kedgeree and I completely adored it.
The perfectly cooked ognlet came with a sweet potato puree, charred spring onions and toasted walnuts. Great balance of flavours and hitting heavy with the autumn vibes.
The Regina Fong
Haddock Scotch Eggs
Onglet with Sweet Potato Puree
The menu is pretty averaged price for the level of cooking. What is impressive is their afternoon lunch/pre-theatre menu. I could have had both courses that I select on the deal for £18.
As a restaurateur, opening a brasserie on old Compton street might be a little risky with 2 Balan’s Society taking up residency on the same small street. Both offer a similar British brasserie menu served with a side of flair and debauchery. You need to make sure that you