Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House in Soho W1 – sublime

Step out of the bustle of London’s Soho into the low-lit, pristine and calming ground floor restaurant Floor 58 in Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House, for some truly tasty posh-nosh

Come on in…

Seated at a table for two (space was restricted) we started with a refreshing drink from the cocktail menu. A Banana Sazerac for me @ 11.00 (Monkey Shoulder scotch, Martell VS cognac, banana, pineapple, aromatic bitters, absinthe rinse and orange oils) and an Eldflower Sour for J @ £10.00 (Beefeater gin, elderflower, peach, lemon and marjoram).

We’d provisionally booked a set menu of two/three courses and a cocktail @ £29.50/£34.50. Take a look at the set menu side by side with the a la carte menu – the a la carte menu is too full of exciting options to resist, right?

 

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Jerusalem artichoke, Iberico de Bellota, Arlington white egg, Langres, dandelion + Spring truffle

 

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Mackerel and tartare, Skyr, pickled walnuts, apple + chicory

 

And so we ordered from the a la carte menu. For starter, I had salt-baked Jerusalem artichoke, Iberico de Bellota, Arlington white egg, Langres cheese, dandelion, and Spring truffle @ £13.50. I don’t think I’ve eaten dandelion before and it looked stunning. So visually pleasing it was almost a shame to tuck in and spoil the design. Almost. The mixture of flavours was sensational – the word sublime was going through my mind right throughout this meal.

J had scorched south coast mackerel and tartare, Skyr (yoghurt-like dairy product), pickled walnuts, apple and chicory @ £12.00.

 

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Set menu Vs a la carte menu – click to enlarge

 

For main course, J had baked Cornish hake, hispi cabbage gratin, Salcombe crab, Tokyo turnip and saffron @ £28.00, along with a mug of cidre Breton @ £6.00.

 

I had coriander seed roasted turbot, green sauce, white Wye Valley asparagus, fennel salad and crispy Pyefleet oyster @ £32.00, and drank a Vinha dos Santos 2013 red wine from Portugal’s Douro region @ £9.50 a 175ml glass. Here’s a photo of the turbot (as served) – beautiful. The photo below shows the food disassembled so you can see inside the crispy (breaded) oyster, and the detail of the meaty turbot with asparagus and fennel salad.

 

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Hake, hispi cabbage gratin, Salcombe crab, Tokyo turnip, saffron

 

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Roasted turbot, green sauce, white Wye Valley asparagus, fennel salad + crispy Pyefleet oyster

 

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Americano @ £4.00, Financier (almond cake) + petit fours @ £3.50

 

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Social Eating House on Soho’s Poland Street – Floor 58 on ground floor, Blind Pig on first floor

 

The verdict: Food here is on another level. It’s sublime, sensational and blew me away. I can’t wait to eat here again. Service was good too.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
– Type: British, ‘contemporary bistro’
– Address: 58 Poland St, Soho, London
– Postcode: W1F 7NS
– Nearest station: Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly
– Website + menus: Social Eating House website
– Photos on flickr: of Social Eating House
– Location: Social Eating House map

The Social Eating House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bocca di Lupo – classy Italian in Soho W1

From cheesy balls to Grandpa’s balls, Bocca di Lupo specialises in obscure, regional Italian cuisine and the menu changes twice a day. 

The first tip is to book well in advance. For our reservation for two this Friday evening, the only availability (having booked a couple of weeks beforehand) was at 7.15pm, perched on high stools at the counter.

On arrival, I was disappointed to see how little space there is for those dining at the bar overlooking the open-plan kitchen, with high stools close together.

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Sea bream carpaccio starter @ £9.00

J had an amaretto sour cocktail @ £10 and I had a glass of Malvasia Nera ‘falo’ San Marzano @ £6.60 (see the red wine list here) while reading the enticing menu. Some dishes needed an explanation from our waiter, whose descriptions made them all the more exciting. It’s not a traditional Italian menu by any means – there’s definitely no pizza but there are plenty of appealing seafood options (if you like seafood). And the Italian region is given for each dish, to show where it’s a speciality.

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Deep fried mozzarella bocconcino balls

We chose six small plates to share, tapas or cicchetti style:

Sea bream carpaccio with orange + rosemary @ £9.00
Buffalo mozzarella bocconcini deep fried in bread crumbs @ £2.50 each (tip: get two each!)
Ricotta ravioli with wild garlic, served with butter + hazelnuts @ £8.00
Octopus, roast tomato, celery + basil salad @ £9.00
Caponata – aubergines, celery + tomato in agrodolce (sweet and sour sauce) @ £7.00
Orechiette di gran arso (burnt grain pasta) with cime di rapa (a variety of sprouting broccoli) + pecorino (hard sheep’s cheese) @ £7.50

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Ricotta + wild garlic ravioli 

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Octopus, roast tomato, celery + basil salad

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Caponata – aubergine, celery, tomato in agrodolce (sweet and sour sauce)

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Orechiette di gran arso with cime di rapa + pecorino 

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Tonight’s menu – 24 March 2017

All of these dishes were stunning, and I’d happily have all of them again next time. Being seated at the end of the bar next to the serving station, it was a busy thoroughfare. But on the plus side, it was easy to get service and great for eyeing up other dishes to try in the future (the roast wild turbot with lentils and salsa verde @ £24.00 served whole, got my attention).

From the dessert menu, we shared a bonet – chocolate, coffee, amaretti, caramel + rum pudding @ £7.00 (I’m not a huge chocolate fan and I don’t like coffee flavouring in food but this was gorgeous – you could really taste the amaretti almond bits in it; it’s perfect for sharing and not as sickly as it looks) and le palle del nonno or Grandpa’s balls – ricotta with chocolate, deep-fried in a light batter and sprinkled with icing sugar @ £7.00 (so good; take a closer look inside here).

We both had a 70 ml glass of Moscato d’asti Adriano sparkling dessert wine @ £3.50 – sweeter than I normally like, but it went really well with these desserts. So well in fact, I had another when J had a coffee…

Check out the dessert wine and grappa menu.

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l: Le palle del nonno ‘grandpa’s balls’ – deep-fried ricotta
r: Bonet
– chocolate, coffee, amaretti, caramel + rum pudding

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Moscato d’asti Adriano sparkling dessert wine – cosy, perched on the counter by the serving station

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Bar seats at the counter – it’s a small space if you’re sharing a few plates

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Open plan kitchen

The verdict: The quality of the food and drinks compensated for the discomfort of the tiny bar space. While this place isn’t cheap (our bill for two was £126.90 including service) you do get what you pay for – it’s more of a place to go for a treat than every day dining (you need to book well in advance anyway).

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Italian
– Address: 12 Archer Street, Soho, London
– Postcode: W1D 7BB
– Nearest station: Piccadilly
– Website + menus: Bocca di Lupo website
– Bocca di Lupo photos: pics of Bocca di Lupo on flickr
– Location: Bocca di Lupo map

Bocca Di Lupo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

JinJuu Korean restaurant – Soho

Following a matinee performance of Bug The Play (disturbingly good) L and I arrive early for our reservation at JinJuu in Soho. Call it late lunch or early dinner – we’re both ravenous and thirsty and are ready to get stuck into some Korean food and drinks.

 

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Bo Ssam pork belly for two – twice cooked pork belly, marinated pork tenderloin, salad, cabbage

 

The restaurant is almost full despite being mid-afternoon, so between peak meal times. We’re taken to an alternative table that’s ready now (as we’re early) and order a bottle of prosecco @ £38.00 and munch on Jinjuu “bespoke ssam jang handmade prawn crackers” @ £4.00. Nicely spicy with a substantial crunch.

 

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Prawn crackers

 

The menu is exciting without being overwhelming (must remember to check out the special set menus on Sundays).

We order some squidgy and crispy dumplings to share:

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Mandoo – juicy steamed beef and pork dumplings seasoned with Korean spices, served with soy dipping sauce @ £7.00

 

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Short rib & Kimchi mandoo – crispy dumpling stuffed with braised beef, mushrooms + kimchi, with a dipping sauce @ £7.00

 

The dumplings are so good we only just manage to restrain ourselves from ordering more.

For main course, we tackle a Dwe-gi Bo Ssam Pork Belly platter for two @ £26.00, comprising:

  • Twice cooked large black Berkshire pork belly
  • Marinated grilled pork tenderloin
  • Dwengjang & gochujang glaze
  • Spring onion salad
  • Traditional homemade radish + cabbage kimchi
  • along with rice, tons of lettuce + Korean-style pork crackling

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Pork, pork, pork crackling, rice + more

 

We are no longer ravenous.

And so – for dessert – we share what’s meant to be a small portion of ice-cream but it arrives with four generous scoops:

  • Salted miso ice-cream with kkae kang jung (sesame candy)
  • Nokcha (green tea) ice-cream with nokcha rice topping

 

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Three scoops (shhh don’t mention the fourth) of ice-cream @ £6.00

 

We also enjoy a leisurely cocktail – I have a gorgeous, refreshing psy sour – Hwayo 41 (rice spirit or soju), Kamm & Sons (a bittersweet botanical spirit), red ginseng and honey tea, fresh yuja fruit, egg white, lavender bitters and ginseng candy @ £11.00.  And L has a lychee lover – lychee infused soju, lychee liqueur, aromatic bitters and prosecco @ £10.00.

 

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Psy sour – with sweets and entertainment. Cute.

 

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Ground floor restaurant and main bar

 

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Downstairs: basement dining area + kitchen

 

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Korean spam… apparently

 

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Pretty boy band posters in ladies’ loo cubicles

 

Wandering around the restaurant it’s hard not to find something that makes you smile, whether it’s the posters of pretty boys while sitting on the loo or decor that includes Korean spam designs.

Our total bill for two is £122.62 including tip (roughly £50 for food, £60 for alcohol). Ok so we’ve splashed out on booze but it is possible to have a mighty fine meal here without breaking the bank.

The verdict: It’s all a bit spesh. Go see for yourself…

 

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Korean
– Address: 16 Kingly Street, Soho, London
– Postcode: W1B 5PS
– Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus
– Website + menus: JinJuu website
– Photos on flickr: JinJuu images
– Location: JinJuu map 

Jinjuu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

El Camion Mexican – Soho, W1

Impressive cocktail list and fresh Mexican food at El Camion and The Pink Chihuahua in Soho.

Probably the first thing to make you smile on entering this basic cafe-style restaurant is the vast collection of pepper sauce bottles on four shelves that run right along the back wall, and the Mexican wall art including day of the dead paintings.

The second is likely to be the impressive cocktail list – it’s vast! I ordered a cadillac margarita (tequila with lemon juice and grand marnier) @ £9.50 and H had a tequila espresso martini (tequila with kahlua, tia maria and espresso) @ £9.50. Along with the friendly service, this was an excellent start.

 

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Cadillac margarita and tequila espresso

 

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Margarita and tequila drinks selection from the extensive cocktail list

 

This Mexican menu takes inspiration, apparently, from the Baja Peninsula in North West Mexico.

We ordered a few starters to share (we thought they’d be light but they were pretty filling): guacamole – a generous bowl of fresh guacamole @ £3.50, tortilla chips again, a generous portion @ £1.50, chipotle salsa – very hot and fiery pepper sauce @ £2.50, and chicaron described as being like pork scratchings but probably more like Quavers (we left most of these), a large portion served with a bowl of guacamole @ £3.95.

 

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Chicaron – ‘pork scratchings’ with guacamole

 

For main course – along with a bottle of Malbec red wine @ £26.00 – we ordered mixed botanas a sharing platter comprising three tacos, three tostados, three quesadilla slices and three jaladas (jalapeno chillis with cream cheese, or ‘poppers’) @ £24.00, and you can choose your own fillings.

 

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Mixed botanas – 3 tacos with slook cooked pork, 3 tostados with slow cooked chicken), 3 quesadilla slices (spinach + mushroom) + 3 jaladas

 

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Jaladas – jalapeno chillis stuffed with cream cheese, deep fried in bread crumbs

 

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That’s a lot of pepper sauce!

 

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Basic cafe-style interior with colourful table coverings
 

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Loos by the Pink Chihuahua cocktail lounge in the basement

 

Too full for dessert, H had an amaretto @ £8.00 (a double) and I had a sparkling wine @ £6.50 as a digestif. Altogether, our meal for two came to £114.41 including service.

 

The verdict: No fuss, no frills Mexican food with an enticing cocktail menu.

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Mexican
~ Address: 25-27 Brewer St, London
~ Postcode: W1F 0RR
~ Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus
~ Website + menus: El Camion website
~ Photos on flickr: images of El Camion
~ Location: El Camion map

 

El Camion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mildreds – vegetarian in Soho

Thoroughly enjoying being a tourist (and staying in central London) while G was in town earlier this week, we were out and about in Soho and more than ready for brunch by 11.30am on Wednesday.

Mildreds seemed like an ideal place to go to (G being vegetarian, and it having been on my hit-list for a long time) although we had to do a few laps around the block (Carnaby Street, so not a problem) as it doesn’t open until 12 noon.


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Waiting for Mildred’s to open – brewing up a storm


We were the first in but then it filled up very quickly (it’s quite small – probably under 50 covers) and the take-away salad bar was immensely popular too.


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First in – to the comforting sound of rain falling on the roof glass


We both ordered a fresh juice made of carrot, apple, beetroot and ginger @ £3.75 (so good we both slurped through our straws ’til our glasses were completely dry).


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Juice (no, not that kinda Juice)


For a starter we shared Thai tofu fritters with mango, coconut and chilli sauce @ £6.25 (excellent; an equal alternative to my usual choice of Thai tod mun fishcakes when ordering Thai starters).


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Thai tofu fritters + gorgeous mango, coconut + chilli sauce


For main course, G had a large mixed salad plate @ £7.95 (a selection of salads from the fresh salad bar) and I had a black bean burrito with red pepper and green tomatillo rice, topped with tomato salsa and cheddar with iceberg, sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo @ £10.25 (again – excellent, and pretty spicy too).


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Mixed salad plate – from the fresh salad bar


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Black bean burrito + tons of guacomole and salsa too


Neither of us could finish our plates (disappointingly). The total bill for two came to £30.88, including service, which seemed very reasonable.


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Mildred’s menu


The verdict: Excellent service (chipper waiting staff), really good menu choices (I was spoilt for choice and didn’t miss meat at all, even though I’m not a vegetarian) and excellent, freshly prepared food. I’ll be back. Hopefully soon.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: Vegetarian
~ Address: 45 Lexington Street, London
~ Postcode: W1F 9AN
~ Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus
~ Website + menus: Mildreds website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Mildreds
~ Location: Mildreds map


RELATED LINKS
More Soho dining:
~ Andrew Edmunds
~ Kettners


Mildred's on Urbanspoon

Kettner’s – Soho

Kettner’s in Soho dates back to 1867, when Auguste Kettner (chef to Napoleon III) created his restaurant from four Georgian town houses.

Entering through the main doors in to the hallway, it feels – even today – like stepping into someone’s rather grand home with a sweeping staircase before you (leading up to first floor function rooms), a door to the left through to the bar room, or another doorway to the right leading into the main dining rooms.

Passing the pianist playing a white grand piano, it’s easy to imagine the high society of a bygone age hanging out here.


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Glamorous style


What makes it especially appealing is that, while the style is glamorous, it’s slightly shabby round the edges. In a good way. The beautiful parquet flooring is well worn and the marble table-tops look like they could tell a story or two. It looks and feels lived in, and is instantly comfortable (further helped by the abundance of waiting staff who all acknowledged me as I was taken through to our table).


Starters:


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Grilled Crottin goats cheese topped with parsley


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Beef carpaccio


For starters, S had grilled goats cheese with a parsley topping and salad @ £7.95, while I had Scotch beef carpaccio with truffle mayonnaise, capers, shallots, rocket, and Parmesan @ £10.50 (I loved the variety of little extra flavours, especially tangy capers).


Mains:


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Seared tuna steak salad – generous portion


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Chicken with wild rice


Sticking with my preference for raw foods on this particular evening, I homed in on the seared yellow fin tuna (lovely chilli and aniseed flavours in the searing crumb) with green beans, new potato, egg and anchovies @ £13.95 for main course (a generous portion) while S had corn-fed chicken with wild rice, garlic, and a tarragon cream sauce @ £16.50.


Pudding:


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Mango + passion fruit pavlova


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Kettner’s classic crème brûlée


We’d enjoyed our first two courses so much, it would’ve been a shame not to check out Kettner’s puddings too. So S had a mango and passion fruit pavlova @ £6.50 and I had a crème brûlée (divine) @ £6.00.


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Sample menu – Oct 2014


Kettner's sample menu - Feb 2015
Sample menu – Feb 2015


Kettner’s offers a pre and post theatre menu – two courses @ £18.50 or three courses @ £21.50. Or, if ordering from the a la carte menu (as we were) Tastecard is accepted – 50% off food for up to four people but you must book in advance (no weekends) [as of 2015, Tastecard is no longer accepted]. Our total bill for a three course dinner for two including a half litre of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc @ £16.95 with a Tastecard discount, came to £62.00 (which includes a 12.5% service charge). Great value.


The verdict: smart old brasserie but there’s nothing pretentious or twee about it. Nicely informal, impeccable service and great French-inspired food.


More of the menu

IMG_1466b_Goats cheese and beetroot starter at Kettners
Baked goat’s cheese with beetroot marmalade


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Crispy pork belly, braised red cabbage, celeriac puree, calvados jus @ £18.50


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: French, international,
~ Address: 29 Romilly Street, Soho, London
~ Postcode: W1D 5HP
~ Tel: 020 7734 6112
~ Nearest station: Leicester Square
~ Website + menus: Kettner’s website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Kettner’s food
~ Location: Kettner’s map


RELATED LINKS
More Soho dining:
~ Andrew Edmunds
~ Asia de Cuba
~ Cây Tre
~ Criterion


Kettner's on Urbanspoon

Amorino Gelato Italiano

After a meal at Bistro1 in Soho we stumbled across Amorino, an ice cream parlour serving authentic Italian gelato on Old Compton Street.


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Italian ice cream – amareno cherry (bottom left) + pistachio (diagonally above)


It’s £3.50 for a small cone (or cup) and you can choose up to four flavours from a handsome range of over 24 ice creams and sorbets.

Each scoop of hand made organic ice cream (free from artificial colours and flavours) is carefully squidged in to a petal shape, to form a rose.


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Crafting an ice cream rose


I chose amarena cherry, pistachio, Madagascar vanilla and yoghurt (all divine!).


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Small cone outside in: yoghurt, amarena cherry, Madagascar vanilla, pistachio


Our decision to skip dessert in the restaurant where we’d eaten dinner proved to be a good one.


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Amorino on Old Compton Street


The verdict: Oh so good. More please!


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: ice cream, gelato
~ Address: 41 Old Compton Street, Soho, London
~ Postcode: W1D 6HF
~ Nearest station: Leicester Square
~ Website + menus: Amorino website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Amorino
~ facebook page: Amorino Soho on fb
~ Location: Amorino Soho map


RELATED LINKS
Soho dining:
~ Andrew Edmunds
~ Bistro1 – Mediterranean/Turkish food on Frith Street
~ Cây Tre – Vietnamese restaurant on Dean Street
~ Shoryu Ramen – Japanese noodles
~ Silk at the Old Courthouse
~ Wagamama Soho


Amorino on Urbanspoon