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One lunch in London, Soho (sunday) [London]

Going to be in London later this month for 24 hours to see a show at the Royal festival Hall. Staying in a hotel in Soho.
I figure I won't have much time for a nice leisurely dinner before the show, so i might as well have a really good lunch. I booked a table at Bocca di Lupo - I've been there a couple of times before and have a soft spot for it, but today I suddenly got the thought into my head it might be nice to try something new :)

So.. any thoughts about a solo lunch on a Sunday, in or near Soho? Atmosphere can be busy and buzzing as long as it's still comfortable for a solo diner. I like small plates when eating alone so I can try more things than just one main, but I can also accomplish this by ordering several starters.

and another question - is there a place near the Royal Festival Hall where I could get something small and quick but good to eat ?


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  1. Nopi - good small, veg plates by Ottolenghi (I love the broad bean fritters.)

    The National Theatre's Terrace restaurant also does small plates. I'm not sure of their hours, but the food is very nice.

    2 Replies
    1. re: zuriga1

      I was going to say NOPI is getting good press over here in the US. It is on my list for the next trip over. We tried Arbutus in SoHo recently and were disappointed. The atmosphere went beyond buzzing and hurtled headlong into cacophonous. Conversation was impossible, although that might be just what the OP is looking for!

      1. re: Lambowner

        You're right. I'm from the States and a lot of my cousins and other people often mention to me that they are using one of Ottolenghi's cookbooks, so I know he's quite popular over 'there,' too. I would say that NOPI is very good but not for everyone's taste. The plates are quite small, so one has to order quite a lot if it's for dinner.

    2. Had 2 amazing lunches at Koya on Frith St. In SoHo in September. Shrimp Tempura udon was amazing and they have a new counter space that is great for dining solo. Also loved Barrafina on the same block. Almost as good as San Sebastián Spanish tapas.

      1. Joel Robuchon does lunch deals I'd not miss it. Otherwise J Sheekey all the way.

        1. If in Soho I'd go unhesitatingly for Yauatcha. Ticks all the boxes you asked for. Usually you don't need a booking if solo - they can typically seat you at the bar in the back.

          Canteen is right in RFH and really quite decent for something small and quick but good. However there are dozens of other options all right there - so you'll be spoiled for choice.

          1 Reply
          1. re: AlexRast

            I second Yauatcha. I've been blown away both times I've eaten there.

          2. Yalla Yalla for Lebanese in Soho, the mezze format is ideal for sampling. Enjoyed the kibbeh nayeh/lamb tartare there recently. Also excellent grilled chicken/shish taouk.

            If you want to venture beyond Soho, Maotai Kitchen in nearby Chinatown has a number of good cold dishes. For example, the pig's ears were perfectly seasoned (sesame oil, coriander) and pleasantly firm and dense but not tough.

            There's good homey Indonesian food at mini-mall on Charing Cross Road. Nasi Padang consist of rice with several dishes and is a good way of sampling a range of items.

            4 Replies
            1. re: limster

              Even if you don't make it to Yalla Yalla for lunch, if you're in Soho, stop by and get a couple of the date maamouls. So good! We buy them for a snack on the train home.

              1. re: Palladium

                Never been a huge fan of Yalla Yalla. Prefer Beirut Express on Edgware Rd. However, this is about Soho.

              2. re: limster

                Need to try this Idonesian place. Never even noticed it. Are we talking about the stretch of CX Road opposite the second hand bookstores before you hit Leicester Sq tube?

                1. re: Loobs

                  Yes - that's the location. Love to hear what you think.

              3. Thanks all!
                Booked at Nopi for a late lunch, will try to get to Koya or Yauatcha for a late breakfast / early lunch the next day. So much to eat, so little time :)

                1. Just returned and I really made the most of my 20 hours in London I think!
                  Lovely lunch at Nopi. I really enjoyed the food - lots of bold gutsy flavors, bitter, tangy, sour, which I love. The beetroot with quince (the quince poached in anise syrup, which was complemented by the chervil used as garnish) was really great. My sumac pomegranate martini was pretty good too. The only thing I did not like were the truffled polenta fries. They are on the menu as 'truffled polenta fries with spicy tomato chutney'. They arrived without chutney and I asked where's the chutney? I was seated at the counter btw. Waiter said 'oh we don't have any' and I pointed out the chutney is on the menu, and I would not have ordered the fries if there had been no mention of chutney. He then went and came back with a small bowl of chutney. Later I noticed other people were served their fries with the chutney? Weird.
                  Another weird thing was that the couple seated next to me were served one of my dishes by mistake. They looked at it bewildered, thought it was on the house, then realized there had been a mix-up, and wanted to give it back, saying they had not touched it (which was true). The waiter said 'oh no you're welcome to it, please enjoy', which I assume means it would not end up on their bill? Which is none of my business, but it was my dish, served to them only because we all had moved a seat. I had to wait for mine and when it was served to me, there was no apology whatsoever. Which was not a big deal but just seemed a little... weird. And the fries themselves were a little heavy for my taste.
                  Anyway, all the other food was really lovely, I even ordered dessert which I rarely do and really enjoyed the blackberry mess (very heavy on the ginger).

                  Had breakfast at Koya bar the next day, great onigiri, pickled kohlrabi, miso soup and poached eggs.
                  Then made a brief stop at Nordic Bakery, had coffee there and an exceptional oatmeal cookie, and bought sandwiches and cake to eat on the plane.

                  All in all I think I managed to have lots of good food, considering I really only came to see Patty Griffin!