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Presenting... Old Tom & English!

07 November 2014

Are you ready for some major food and cocktail envy??? Tonight Erin (Island Bell) and I had the privilege of step through the doors into Old Tom & English, a new Soho restaurant that will be having their official opening on the 14th of November.
Once through the impressive doors at 187b Wardour Street (be careful you don't walk right past it, as I did - haha), which will feature a lookout window and door person similar to the good ol' speakeasy, we were whisked past the door person's desk where the coat check will also be featured.  In place of the typical coat check ticket, will you be given a gold coloured playing card. Everything about Old Tom & English is pure elegance.
 
Head down a flight of stairs and you are in the intimate bar with low level lighting and a bartender who can make a mean gin cocktail. More on that later. :)
The bar is intimate and the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or glass of champagne or wine while waiting for your party and/or table. 
On the other side of a low counter, you'll find the main dining room.
The room boasts three tables for 2, and two couches along the wall with three tables of 2 each. There are also two semi-private dining alcoves on the side that will seat 4-5 people comfortably.
Yes it is a quite intimate environment and the restaurant operates a reservation-only policy. The feel will be similar to a speakeasy / private members only club but anyone is able to make reservations. And by all means do go and make reservations fast because the place is already fully booked and it is only the soft opening. Once it opens and with the Christmas crowds, the wait for a table on a weekend could easily be 2 weeks out.
The wait staff are delightful and their faces are wreathed in smiles. Our lovely waitress gave us a quick history of the significance of the restaurant's name, Old Tom and English. Old Tom has a double meaning and can refer to an 18th century English gin AND the girls of the night who used to frequent the Soho district. Obviously being the classy place it is, the Old Tom and English prefers the reference to the 18th century English gin and boasts a gin-heavy cocktail list. For our meal, Erin and I ordered "The Wardour" (Erin) and "South Side of Oxford Street" (me). 
South Side of Oxford Street
Erin photographing her "The Waldour"
We both loved our drinks and found them to be lush, refreshing, and the perfect combination of tartness and sweetness. It was the perfect first taste at Old Tom and English. The ambiance and drinks had our expectations high and the food that followed did not disappoint.
The restaurant serves tapas style dishes and they recommend 3-4 dishes per person. We ordered a couple dishes from each category and I will walk you through each one as you salivate. {warning: amazing food to follow. Do not read this while you're hungry.}
First up the "nibbles". We had "beer sticks" that are spicy pork. Think jerky. The pork was tender and not too spicy or chewy. B+.
Our lovely waitress also recommended we try the "chips" that are triple cooked and they tasted Divine. Amazing. Incredible. (Yes, you will see lots of adjectives to describe the food to come -- it was truly one of the best meals either of us had ever had.) Don't get turned off by the simplicity of the title. They had the texture of tempura, as Erin brilliantly pointed out. A+.
Next up the wait staff brought out the fish dishes. The "Pan fried king scallops" with courgette, black pudding and lime. Heavenly! Sensational! Melt-in-mouth incredible! Yes - I am not a big fan of scallops in general but this was out of the world amazing. I could have happily ordered my fill of these scallops. When you visit, this is a MUST HAVE. A+
And don't forget about the "Old Tom's Salmon Tartar" which was divine! Perfectly seared! Messy goodness! The tartar came with a poached egg yoke on top and the mixture was incredible -- this was a dish I wished I had a spoon to catch all the little bits and pieces. Spoon licking good, if I had a spoon. A+.
And the veg dishes... First up "Egg & Mushroom on Melba Toast". It comes with Jerusalem artichokes and marmite butter. The toast is on the side so if you are Gluten-free you can easily ignore the toast and happily munch on eggy mushroom goodness. This is pure comfort food and each mouthful was de-lic-ious! Again, I was wishing we were at a less posh place and I could ask for a spoon, hehe. Yum, yum. A+. 
The "Braised Gem Lettuce with Anchovy and Garlic" was probably the least artistic and inspiring in appearance. However don't let appearances deceive because this was one of the best gem lettuce salads. Who knew gem lettuce could be so tender and flavourful? And if you are not a fan of anchovies (such as myself) don't be turned off; you won't see any anchovies on your plate and the taste of the lettuce is not too fishy. It's the garlic that really came through for me. A.

Are you dying with food envy yet? Go and call/email Old Tom and English right now. You don't want to end up on a wait list. This food is too good to wait too long. You can email them at info@oldtomandenglish.com or call them at 020 7287 7347. Do it now! Done? Moving on...
The "meat" options were just as incredible as was becoming the habit of the evening, we were oo'ing and aww'ing as each dish was presented with a flourish. [And all this time, our water glasses were continually being refilled; we just once had to refill our glasses ourselves.] This was the "slow smoked guinea fowl" and came with an anchovy mayo that I did not test as the Guinea Fowl was extraordinary in its own right and did not need any extras. The meat was moist and tender. No knife was needed. A+.
Lastly (for the main dishes, at least) was the "Smoked Wood Pigeon" with beetroot, samphire and pine nut. I believe this was probably my favourite dish but honestly choosing a favourite was no easy feat because they were ALL incredible. You don't often get to say that but the chef outdid himself. Wow wow. The smoked wood pigeon was again moist and perfectly cooked with a crispy skin. A++.
Taking a brief break to explore the lavatory, I found the ladies' room to be clean, pristine and modern with candlelight on the floor of the stalls. Its the little things that you notice and that make you smile.
Did you save room for dessert? Erin and I happily ordered a second drink each - "The Elderflower Collins" (for Erin) and the "OT&E Gimlet" (for me) - that looked very much the same so an extra straw in Erin's drink helped us tell the two apart. Both were refreshing like the earlier drinks and the elderflower liqueur came through in Erin's drink sweetening it but not too strongly. My gimlet was mixed with their homemade traditional lime cordial and was perfectly tart and sweet. And equally refreshing.
Don't worry; we're getting to the desserts. Being Gluten-free, Erin ordered the "flourless salted chocolate cake" but do not feel sorry for her. She is admittedly not a fan of cake but this was so moist, luxurious and delicious that she polished off the entire slice apart from a bite I happily took. A.
I on the other hand could not decide between the "banana bread with whiskey cream" and "lemon and thyme baby doughnut". Tough call, right? Indeed; so I asked our waitress for her recommendation and she agreed that she too finds it tough to decide between the two so I got one of each. Are you gasping? Hehe. It was quite selfless of me since now I can tell you dear readers about both amazing dessert options. See how thoughtful I am? :D
The banana bread was warm, flavourful and moist. The whiskey cream was rich and albeit I forgot it was whiskey flavoured (ha) but I found it a bit too strong and overpowering so after the first bite, I happily ate the piece without the cream. B+. 
The lemon and thyme baby doughnut was warm and again soft and flavourful and moist and not too rich which is just what you need after a heavy meal of pigeon, salmon, scallops, guinea fowl, eggs and veggies. The chocolate sauce was rich so I preferred the doughnut by itself sans the creams but that might just be a personal choice. A. 
I really don't know how I could choose a favourite but if I must it probably was the wood pigeon with that crunchy and flavourful skin on top of moist, tender and savoury meat. But everything was truly amazing. The tapas style menu means it is perfect for sharing a wide assortment of dishes. We ended up sharing 8 dishes and our stomachs were quite happy and satisfied. The desserts were scrumptious (I did not finish mine, FYI) and you could easily share one between two as a perfect finish to your meal. 
I cannot more highly recommend Old Tom and English. It would be excellent for a date, celebration, visit from out-of-town friends/family, or just a good time out with friends/family. But don't expect to show up and get a table. This is a strictly reservation only establishment and the queue for a spot on the list is going to be impressive. Once people discover the amazing service, food and cocktails in addition to the intimate vibe, the crowds will be vying for a spot on the guest list. So do not delay.. Take my word and book a table! You will not regret it. Erin and I were seriously sipping our cocktails and imagining who we might take the next time we visit.

Big thanks to the lovely team at Old Tom and English for the reservation, incredible service, and complimentary meal. We loved it and cannot wait to come back as paying guests.
xx
Disclaimer: The food and drinks were graciously comped by the team at Old Tom and English but the reviews and thoughts are all my own.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for an amazing evening - we have to do it again soon! xxx

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    1. this truly was an incredible night; thanks for sharing with me Erin!

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  2. yes! it was incredible... hope you can go check it out soon, LFFL! x

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Thanks so much for sharing with me! Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated!
x Joy

 

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