Old Tom & English Soho
187b Wardour Street, W1F 8ZB
Old Tom and English was a place I was ready to dislike. Selling itself as a restaurant and bar with ‘vintage cocktails and carefully curated wines’ it felt too pretentious even for me which takes some doing.
You’ll find the joint lurking at the northern end of Wardour St with only a brass doorplate to help you. Bucking the trend OT&E has a reservations-only policy; you are met by a couple of black-clad staff who check your booking status and usher you downstairs into designer Lee Broom’s extraordinary 60s style interior. It was at this point that I fell in love with the place. I became a Mad Man from Uncle, cool, suave and sexy, and parked my misgivings by the door.
Catherine and I sat on a comfy sofa, and were entertained by watching our rather baroque Italian waiter sashay across the room.
I ordered a Smoked Old Fashioned (£9.90) made from aged Woodford Bourbon and Apple wood smoke which theatrically wafted out of the cocktail shaker when opened. It was delicious.
We snacked on salty popcorn cockles (£5) before embarking upon a number of ‘British’ tasting plates. Deep-fried artichoke hearts (£4) were a generous portion but the batter was claggy Better the Jewish Roman version than this. Braised Gem Lettuce (£5) with anchovy and garlic was too salty for my taste. (Yes I know it had anchovies in it which I like but it was too much…)
Battered Sea Bass (£9) was again over-battered overwhelming the flavour of the fish.
However pan-fried scallops (£8) were a much stronger proposition, full of flavour and perfectly cooked.
Desserts were excellent. A flourless salted chocolate cake (£7) was dense and rich with an appropriately salty bite, and banana bread with whisky cream (£7) was rich and boozy.
Although the food offer wasn’t consistent, the vibe at OT&E was relaxed and stylish. I will be going back to try some of the other dishes, the great drinks and to enjoy the space.