‘A few more minutes please.’ This is my most commonly-used phrase in restaurants. It takes me, on average, 20 minutes to decide on an order.
Yes, I’m one of those annoyingly fussy people who positively pores over menus – much to the chagrin of staff and fellow diners. The wider the variety, the better. When I see a limited menu, my heart tends to sink a little.
Which is why, when I saw the set menu at 100 Wardour Street – a glossy, chic, not-so-long-ago-opened eatery in the heart of London’s Soho – I was initially concerned.
There were only a handful of choices. What’s more, it was three courses for £15 ($19, €17). House wine and beer is also reasonably-priced. This is almost unheard of in central London – outside of fast food joints, perhaps.
But this is a fairly lavish restaurant, complete with nightly live music. It all seemed a little too good to be true. Whenever I’ve come across such price points in purported restaurants in the past, I’ve been outrageously disappointed. (Particularly as everything on the very short menu actually looked great.)
Well, when the dishes arrived promptly and with a smile, I was impressed to find out the food was excellent. (Service, by the way, was relaxed but efficient)
The starter of light, crunchy baby squid with chilli and lime was a fantastic and flawless way to begin proceedings. Once upon a time, the mere idea of squid repulsed me – after all, the snail is among its slimy relatives. But I guess that’s most finicky teenagers. As fully-fledged adults, myself and my guest consumed the lot almost impulsively.
The portion was generous, and the squid removed from the fryer at the ideal moment: not too chewy, but not so overcooked it disintegrated at the slight of touch. The fresh, zingy lime and chilli was a bonus.
I opted for a straightforward chicken and chips dish for our main – both satisfying and cooked slowly, perfectly. My guest said the same of her sizeable portion of duck confit. We offset both with crunchy, colourful tender stem broccoli.
The set menu is since updated with an array of international dishes. If we were going tonight we’d opt for the grilled lamb kofta with white cabbage slaw or the pea and mint risotto with goats cheese and pea shoots.
For dessert it was refreshing lime sorbet and a decent, stodgy, warm chocolate brownie/fondant hybrid. The desserts on the three-course menu now are a love letter to summer – from coconut panna cotta to tropical fruit pavlova.
Timing is everything when dining at 100 Wardour Street, given the nightly live entertainment. As our table was actually located on the dancefloor, we had to vacate it shortly after eating. Any earlier and we’d have been sat around twiddling our thumbs waiting for the music. Any later and we may have had to rush our food. Do you research and book accordingly.
Because the performances, along with the affordable, good food, are 100 Wardour Street’s major selling point. Statement dining is all about experience, and there’s a throwback glamor to this combination that’s simple and irresistible.
So much so, I kind of wish it had been possible for me to eat while the live band swished their way around an array of poppy, jazzy classics. (Think Amy Winehouse’s version of Valerie). That said, it might have been awkward, and people began dancing with the first toot of a saxophone.
Take Me Home singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor will be performing on 22 June, taking to the stage at 9.30pm. Murder On The Dancefloor, Take Me Home and Catch You are among her top 10 hits. Plus, of course, Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love), her number one collaboration with Spiller from the year 2000. Don’t miss.
For more information, visit the 100 Wardour Street official website.