We try out some new offerings on the London lunch/brunch scene, each handily located near the capital’s hotspots
This is quite a find: a bijou neighbourhood restaurant in the heart of Soho. Small, cosy tables contribute to the bistro feel, and seasonal dishes of the day are chalked up on the blackboard. The menu is reassuringly short. Dishes such as Welsh black beef, potatoes, kale and horseradish, or sea bream, braised fennel, spinach, olives and broad beans, reveal the kitchen’s skill with classic British ingredients. On our visit, we sampled the restaurant’s new Sunday lunch menu. Our sharing dish of venison with cavolo nero and poached pear was impeccably cooked and beautifully presented on a vintage serving platter. Fine food, attentive service and, at just a few minutes’ walk from the bustle of Oxford Street, the location’s not bad either.
A step away from the crowds of Trafalgar Square is an oasis of calm in the National Gallery Café. Set in a rather grand dining hall with its own entrance on Charing Cross Road, it is now offering brunch run by classic food masters Peyton and Byrne. Start with a breakfast basket of delicious toast, pastries and preserves, served with freshly squeezed orange juice, before tucking into an extended brunch menu that includes shakshuka (baked eggs in tomato sauce with chorizo), summer courgette fritter and grilled halloumi with an orange dressing. All washed down with a particularly delicious glass of Jean Paul Deville champagne. Perfectly refreshed, it’s now time to browse the priceless collection of the world-class National Gallery or to enter back into the buzz of Trafalgar Square.
Centre Point – the skyscraper overlooking Tottenham Court Road that was built in 1966 – is the perfect setting for a Sixties-themed restaurant. You’d be forgiven for imagining a garish tribute to psychedelic ‘Swinging London’ but VIVI, Centre Point’s new flagship restaurant, is thankfully more Mad Men than Austin Powers. Sleek blush-pink banquette seating, a sparkling horseshoe bar and modish lighting all add to the mid-century vibe, and the menu touches on Sixties classics too, from prawn cocktail to chicken Kiev. The desserts are also sweetly nostalgic – rhubarb and custard, say, or Neapolitan sundae. VIVI makes a good pre-theatre option, or a handy pitstop if you need a break from shopping on nearby Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road.