AUTUMN 2020 | FREE
In this issue:
HOW HOSPITALITY MADE A COMEBACK
SAVING THE ARTS
DOG-FRIENDLY CAFES Comfort Food on the Menu this Autumn at Zima...
Share your pics with us - tag @mysohotimes #MySohoTimes
editor's note fall for autumn...
There's a seduction about Autumn that lets me forget summer has just ended… trees shed their leaves, paving the streets with crispy golden artefacts in hues which inspire catwalk trends. The season is the love child of summer vibes (reminding us she ain't quite done yet) and a taster for the winter months ahead, giving us permission to snuggle up. And what better Autumn delight than comfort food for the soul? Our foodies share their favourites on the menu, from Russian to Malaysian. Hungry? Head to page 13! This season also marks the 360° journey I've made in 365 days when I launched the pilot of My Soho Times a year ago... I can still remember that feeling of excitement in the pit of my stomach as I headed to pick up limited edition copies printed at The Colour Company on Poland Street. A year later I still get the same buzz whenever I hold a freshly printed copy of MST in my hands. In this issue we pay homage to the comeback of hospitality - the ever evolving identity of Soho which has yet again taken another blow with the announcement of a 10pm curfew. We turn a spotlight to Saving the Arts - how arts in Soho are re-booting and how best this can be done. We paws for a coffee in dog-friendly cafes, and get Back to Biz with tips for today's entrepreneur picking up after lockdown. Speaking of lockdown, it's safe to say it's had its mental strain on many of us. Head over to pg.33 for tips on overcoming the lockdown blues. My own way of shaking off the blues, was a trip to Greece which makes an appearance as our first travel piece. Looking for some off-season sun or a remote-working escape? Scroll over to to pg. 42 (and yes, I got my mojo back!) The global pandemic has emphasised that the future is online. And whilst it is a priority for us to work on expanding our digital platforms, I also know there's nothing that quite compares to holding a physical copy of My Soho Times in your hands... In the midst of confusion and uncertainty - print ain't dead!
Photo: Lewis Inman
The Soho Girl x
Editor's Picks for Autumn
Kai Lutterodt Editor in Chief IG: @the.soho.girl
Take the right pass with faux fur. This season is as good a time as ever to get conscious about sustainability - why not start with fashion? I picked up a grey faux jacket for a bargain at my local charity shop. Sustainability isn't just for September - it's a lifestyle choice.
Another pandemic was brought to the spotlight due to the brutal murder of George Floyd. Racism. Like a virus it comes in various disguises, woven within our society. Julius Reuben touches on ways we can all be allies for equality and Dom&Ink gives back for UK Black Pride.
What is it about heat + movement (or stillness) that has me addicted? When my local gym stopped their yoga classes for the foreseeable future, I took up Bikram Yoga London's 20 days special offer... and 20 days later - I was a new person! MY SOHO TIMES
At the heart of our society is... My Soho Times is an independent hyper local lifestyle magazine, launched in Winter 2019. Soho is without doubt the beating heart of London - in location and vibe. We aim to curate the very best of Soho businesses for the benefit of both Londoners and visitors. And not just online... We're committed to the power of print, so you can take us anywhere!
We have you covered - in Soho and W1 Our varied distribution in Soho and other parts of the notable W1 postcode (Fitzrovia, Mayfair and Marylebone) will have a massive impact on the responses our partners get. With your help we hope to grow a loyal readership for both our seasonal publication and online content. Join our mailing list for local news and promos. (We promise not to spam!)
What's inside? 6 HOW HOSPITALITY MADE A COMEBACK
19 BACK TO BIZ: A GUIDE FOR ENTREPRENEURS
24 SAVING THE ARTS Gillian Smith investigates how the arts, from film production, to theatre, music and radio, are rebooting and ways we can support.
Lua Cooper of Greenage shares essential tips for getting your business back on track after lockdown
Jason Gale addresses the amazing ‘bounce-backability' of the Soho’s hospitality businesses.
09 THE STYLE CHAMELEON: 20 PAWS FOR A COFFEE JULIUS REUBEN Jess and Clive the bulldog set out
28 TALES FROM THE COLONY ROOM
to discover some of the Westend's inclusive cafes and restaurants for both you and your pooch to enjoy.
Performance artist, model and passive activist, Julius Rueben talks fashion, BLM, and the inportance of transformation.
23 MEMORIES OF AN AL FRESCO SUMMER
13 AUTUMN COMFORTS ON THE MENU Our favourite foodies share recommendations for this season's most comforting dishes.
Over a decade after its closure, the Dellaspora Gallery pay homage to Soho's infamous private members club.
34 RAJIV'S KITCHEN
Anna Lahart shares the joys of seeing Soho brought back to life in a not so distant summer gone by.
Chef Rajiv shares his joys of 2020 and putting Nepalese cuisine in the spotlight as a finalist in the British Street Food Awards.
CONNECT WITH US @MYSOHOTIMES • WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK
Contributing Editor: Gillian Smith Contributors: Freya Starr | Jason Gale| Lua Cooper | Imran Khawajai| Kesh Wang | Jessica Toale| Lydia Johnson | Anna Lahart | Daniel Morgenstern| Marilita Hatzivassiliou | Tim Baros| Georgina MacDougall | Kiran Selvakumaran | Helen Walsh | Erica Tang | Syahna Yahya | Robin Smith | Lydia Johnson | Ari Gurdon Lindey Design: Kai Lutterodt Cover photo: A selection of dishes on the menu at Zima | @zimarestaurant
For opportunities to contibute or advertise please email email@example.com MY SOHO TIMES
HOW HOSPITALITY MADE A COMEBACK... Jason Gale, founder of the London Lifestyle Awards®, talks about the amazing ‘bouncebackability’ of Soho’s hospitality businesses. We will never forget March 23rd 2020 — the day the UK shut down. I did not realise how long we would be holding our breath. As I write we face more months of uncertainty, with shorter opening hours and a 10pm restaurant and bar curfew, which it’s hoped will hold at bay a second wave of this horrendous disease. But the extended period of lockdown has brought some revelations. One of these is the huge contribution that the hospitality industry makes to the financial well-being of the country. What's more, we have come to realise its importance to our mental health. Not only because our leaders and health experts have been telling us, but because we have felt it for ourselves. At the London Lifestyle Awards® we have been celebrating amazing hospitality businesses for the last 10 years. I have never been prouder of the industry. We have seen innovation and creativity from businesses trying to get through this period and huge resilience as they ensure they will be ready for the bounce back, whenever it comes. Some of us over the years may have taken Soho for granted but we should never forget it is packed full of world class hospitality businesses. In response to the crisis, stakeholders in the area - such as Soho Estates and Shaftesbury - launched the Soho Summer Street Festival.
This was a district-wide Al fresco initiative to keep the beating heart of London’s food and drink scene alive. it gave us a glimpse of what could be the Soho of the future. In an excellent interview on ‘Posh Cockney TV’, John James from Soho Estates told Liam Norval how they worked with hospitality businesses, along with Westminster Council to create an experience that would give not only a much needed lift to residents and visitors, but also offer a lifeline for the businesses. It was fantastic to see how people pulled together and supported each other across Soho. District wide schemes have kept the whole area ticking over, and of course Eat Out to Help Out was a huge success across the country. But we can’t expect businesses to keep slashing prices and offering crazy deals without government funding. Drinking and dining on the streets of Soho has been a great success, closing the Al fresco gap with other great cities across Europe. Kerb-side cafes and boulevard bars were one of the few areas where other European cities could claim to be ahead of London. Well, maybe not anymore! Coupled with the celebrated EOTHO scheme, Monday to Wednesday became the new Thursday to Saturday. The fantastic hospitality businesses of the area grabbed hold of the opportunity. The streets suddenly resembled those of Barcelona, Rome or Paris. They created for me some of the most enjoyable London evenings in twenty years. WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK
Al fresco Soho: photos by Rebecca Taylor
And what's more, they were saving not just their businesses and their jobs, but our way of life. Putting tables and chairs on the streets was not an option for all businesses but it didn’t stop them finding opportunities to make the most of this unique time. One such business is Century Club on Shaftesbury Avenue. The Club has used the lock down period to refurbish the venue from top to bottom. This includes building a second roof terrace, above the existing one, to give guests the most breath-taking views of London. They have also introduced a beautiful piano bar on the second floor and added a collection of new artwork. All this, coupled with new menus from a new Head Chef, will hopefully ensure the Club can bounce back strongly. We are fortunate to have Cahoots here in Soho - from the Inception group which owns bars such as Mr Foggs, Barts, Maggie’s, and Bunga Bunga. As a 1940’s themed destination venue they have seized this opportunity to double down on the experience they offer their guests. They took early steps to prepare for reopening and keeping customers safe and are enhancing the customer experience with two very exciting additions. Bootlegger Breakout, launching in October, is an immersive blend of puzzle-solving and cocktail-making. It's the perfect afternoon experience in this unforgettable subterranean venue. I am also so excited about Allo Allo moving from France to Soho to present a unique comedy dining experience. Memorable entertainment, I’m sure. Our nights out are likely to be less frequent that they were last year. With the rule of six, there won’t be large groups of people banding together for a night out. So we might want our social excursions to deliver more to feed our souls. We have seen a move towards more holistic and multi-sensory experiences over the last decade and Cahoots seems to be doing their best to indulge us.
Soho hospitality business owners are absolute warriors. I have worked with many of them down the years and seen some of them win London Lifestyle Awards®. The people I have met here, in the bars and restaurants from Greek Street to Kingly Street, have fuelled my passion for the area. Soho makes a huge contribution to London, even to the UK as a whole. I have been so impressed by the creativity, partnerships and collaborations here, bringing together businesses, landlords and the council. This is not only to help businesses survive but to build a platform for them to thrive in the future. Londoners will no longer be travelling to their offices five days a week for the foreseeable future. On paper we may feel that the new normal, however that evolves, may mean fewer people frequenting Soho hospitality businesses. I have a different, more optimistic view however. If the industry can survive these next few months and even though offices will be emptier, a trip to central London may become more of an ‘occasion’, meaning greater efforts to stay and have dinner with friends and colleagues or indeed step outside for a business lunch. Soho has been reinventing itself since its inception and its business owners are constantly required to think outside the box. I cannot conceive of a more able, creative group of people to be the custodians of this most fascinating, ever-changing and entertaining square mile. It will need all its smarts and more in the months to come. But I’ve no doubt it’s up to the job. Long Live Soho. For info about The London Lifestyle Awards visit: www.britishlifestyleawards.com/london | @lifestyle_awards MY SOHO TIMES
MULTI AWARD NOMINATED HAIR EXTENSION AND ORGANIC COLOUR SALON
2 D'ARBLAY ST, SOHO, LONDON W1F 8DQ 020 7439 0666 23
The Style Chameleon: Julius Reuben on Fashion, Activism & Transformation Written by Kai Lutterodt | @the.soho.girl Photograph: Damien Frost | @thedamienfrost
MY SOHO TIMES
No introduction needed. Julius Reuben wears many hats. Literally. A proud queer British-Tanzanian-born creative and performing artist, model and passive activist ("you can still be an activist without it being your day job or being part of a charity or organisation" he explains on the latter). A professional slasher (/) who excels in each incarnation, his take is, "I look at life in a simpler way and that is... I only have one life with this body and in a blink of an eye all that will be a history! My job is to experience and challenge myself as much as possible both professionally and socially!" Don’t ever try to put him in a box. "I'm not a fan of boxes as I feel they are meant for dead people and so far I'm still alive!" He begins to explain, "I do understand it makes people uncomfortable but that’s not my business! I have to take care of number one and my happiness is important." Perhaps it's this unapologetic attitude that makes him even more enticing as a personality. Despite 20+ years in the creative industries starring in a variety of roles including leading, supporting and assisting "you name it I possibly have done it!”, Julius is still humble about self-development, "Every day is a lesson and you must be willing to learn. Even till now I'm still learning and I'm still discovering and lessons seem to come from everywhere and anywhere." Style and fashion. I've always thought of Julius as a chameleon. But really, how many people do you know whose style evolves so effortlessly? His is a summary of his lifejourney and this is reflected in his fashion sense. "It’s a combination of everything I see and every place I have been to, and it is also a celebration of my identity and a form of activism. It is also the representation of my moods! My inspiration comes from everywhere, up to and including the homeless guy on the street. People may see only a lamp shade but I see a lampshade and a hat, even a statement neck piece." His social media gives only a sample taster of his artistry, "I have always wanted my images layered up with stories. I purposely make my images as artistic as possible. The ones that are extremely artistic are the imaginary guardians that I created in my head for many years to protect me in the midst of my battle with the world!" "When it comes to creating art imagery, I only agree to work with a photographer if I like what I see in their work and if it fits the mood I'm portraying. Some photographers will take pictures because they look good but at the same time have no idea what is in front of them! Sometimes it’s exactly what I ordered. But for my fashion work they tend to book me because of what they like so it becomes an extension of what I'm trying to facilitate."
BLM & Activism. Society has had a reality check. In 2020 we aren't as empathetic towards difference as we like to pretend we are, despite the number of Diversity and Inclusion courses we may have volunteered for. Julius won't be silenced, particularly when it comes to race inequality issues. "We (and when I say we, I mean dark skin black people) seem to have been taking baby steps for quite some time, when we should be running by now! Black Lives Matter is possibly the biggest race awareness movement that’s happened in many years… but I don't think its changed anything yet, other than raising its profile. Darker skin people still continue to be challenged, not listened to and even lose everything for insisting on their rights, while a light skin black person will be taken notice of and even promoted for doing the same. Welcome to the world of privilege!" To be a good ally? "It's very simple." He explains, "Stop making us a token for your white friends - it’s extremely tiring! You need to do your research, listen before you speak and you need to be learning everyday. Reading a book on Kunta Kinte doesn't make you an expert on black people's experiences." On Transformation. At some point in our lives we will transition. Fact. Be it stylistically, mentally, or even physically. I was curious to know what this meant to someone who adapts to change so effortlessly. "Transformations are crucial for the wellbeing of my mind, body and soul. We evolve throughout different stages of our lives and our job is to recognise these stages and make changes with them... Sometimes it can be as simple as altering a colour in your bedroom or cleaning out your house and getting rid of possessions that no longer fulfil you. It could also be a change in your fashion, career or lifestyle choices. All these stages and many more will occur throughout our lifetime and they can be terrifying, but our job is to face up to them and to learn to embrace them! The Soho Connection. "Soho, Soho, my beloved Soho!" Julius sighs. I recognise this tone. It's joyful yet has the melancholy undertone of a loved one yet to return. "Soho gave me my chance to dream again! I felt alive in Soho, it had much more warmth and now it’s becoming too cold to bear… or maybe I have grown out of it, but that can't be as Soho will always stay in my heart!" Julius recalls his early encounters with the neighbourhood as though it was a dear friend. "Soho also took me in when I was a lost young adult and showed me possibilities. There was a sense of community which was different from anything I had seen before and I didn't even care about how biased they were about my skin colour - I was too eager to learn about a part of my life that had been so neglected. I would love to see the old Soho back, though with less prejudice about race." Follow Julius Reuben on Instagram @liusbenlon
Photography: Zulfikar Ali Malik MY SOHO TIMES
Let's meet at MY PLACE SOHO BREAKFAST
Our favourite foodies eat their way through 9 Autumn menus.
BY LUZ LOPEZ
Who knew Russian food tasted so good - a trip to ZIMA Russian Restaurant Soho left us converted to the cuisine! Nestled in the middle of Frith Street, the townhouse style restaurant presents a contemporary and delicious twist on Russian favourites including Pirozhok (baked bread stuffed with meat or vegetables), Pelmeni with fish and their Beef Stroganoff. Executive Chef Alexei Zimin is somewhat of a Gordon Ramsay in his home country and he’s clearly passionate about putting ZIMA on the London foodie map. The service is warm and friendly with a dollop of dry witty humour. The caviar is ridiculously low priced, the cheapest in London. I would highly recommend you dive into Russian hospitality, art and food with flowing vodka infusions (Nastyoka)... and caviar!
MY SOHO TIMES
27 FRITH ST, SOHO, LONDON W1D 5LE WWW.BISTRO1.CO.UK BY TIM BAROS
Bistro 1 bill themselves as having the ‘most delicious foods under the perfect lights.’ Theyre right - and this is why. Dishes such as the Chargrilled Lamb Shish Kebab and the Chargrilled Lamb Kofte Meatballs - both of which I've had many times - are just two of the perfect meals they serve. The meat is always perfectly cooked, flavourful and utterly mouth-watering. If meat is not your thing, then the Chargrilled Fillet of Salmon or the Vegetarian Mousakka could be for you. Also Pasta and RibEye Steak might be your cup of tea (not both at the same time!). One of the better deals in Soho is their Fish & Chips or Classic Burger with a beer or wine - all for only £9.90 for lunch or £12.90 for dinner. The burger is huge and with fries it won’t leave you hungry anymore.
11 - 13 FRITH ST, SOHO, LONDON W1D 4RB WWW.CHOTTO-MATTE.COM/SOHO BY IRAM KHAWAJA | @IRAM727
Soho is my ultimate place to go for food and after stalking Chotto Matte’s Instagram account for months, it was finally the right time to visit! Following the latest trend of outdoor seating this summer (spilling into Autumn), I sat amongst the buzz of Frith Street waiting for my bento box meal which included a mix of six mini dishes. My favourites were the Nigiri selection with colourful salmon, sea bass and tuna sushi, along with an exotic lychee ceviche which was absolutely delicious. For nonalcoholic drinks, the China Morada is the perfect choice put together with a blend of pineapple and cinnamon flavours. WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK
BY GEORGINA MACDOUGALL | @ROUNDPLATES
One of the joys of Pastaio is that the menu changes with the seasons, so there's always something new to try, whether it's a new flavour of prosecco slushy or stuffed ravioli. Whenever the gnocchi is on the menu I have to order it - it's so light and fluffy - but the green spinach spaghetti is a staple and one of my go-tos for a 'lighter' lunch. I've heard rumours that the signature nduja and mozzarella toastie is making a comeback and I'll be first in the queue when it does - it's got the perfect balance between crisp and soft, spicy and smooth, with a hint of sweetness from a drizzle of honey to finish it off.
MY SOHO TIMES
90 BERWICK ST, SOHO, LONDON W1F 0QB WWW.THEDUCKANDRICE.COM BY HELEN WALSH | @LONDONFOODSTAGIRL
For me great dim sum is the ultimate comfort food. There’s something about those pillowy parcels packed full of umami flavour that hits the spot like nothing else. For great dim sum, and Chinese food in general, I head to The Duck and Rice, where plates come out fast and everything is delicious. Crunchy prawn toasts are a must-order, the Sichuan veggie dumplings are packed full of flavour and will hit the spot even for nonveggies and if you’re not a fan of what is in my book the ultimate dim sum, har gau, we simply cannot be friends. Wash it all down with great cocktails and you have the makings of a perfect Soho night out.
50 BERWICK ST, SOHO, LONDON W1F 8SJ WWW.THEREALGREEK.COM BY MARILITA HATZIVASSILIOU | @GOURMELITA
After spending each summer with family in Greece, heading back to London always gives me and the children what we call ‘the London blues’. That’s when Greek comfort food at The Real Greek Soho comes to the rescue! The delicious Souvlaki, Halloumi Fries and Santorini Fava always hit the spot - not to mention the extensive list of excellent Greek wines for mommy. Whether it’s eat in or take out, the food helps us relive the Greek experience with every bite! Some of our family all-time favourites are: creamy taramasalata - white and fluffy like my mom makes it, pork belly, cheese pie & meat pie, lamb cutlets, the fried calamari and so many more! WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK
22 KINGLY ST, SOHO, LONDON W1B 5QP WWW.DISHOOM.COM BY SYAHNA YAHYA | @SYAHNAYAHYA
Paying homage to the whimsical flavours of Irani cafés and Bombay cuisine, Dishoom introduces a whole new twist on a fan favourite. With a delicately crafted, laid back elegance you’ll find this place constantly bustling with foodies travelling from near and far to grab a taste. They serve an array of delicious delicacies one tastier than the next, including their signature Chicken Berry Britannia - a flavourful pot of chicken and rice with all the herbs and spices you could dream of and (a personal favourite) their Chilli Butter Bhutta - charcoal-grilled corn on the cob slathered in the most delicious blend of butter, chilli, salt and lime. And just when you think the fun stops there, their dessert menu is guaranteed to bring your night of indulgence to a perfect end. PS. You might want to wear loose-fitting pants for this one!
8 15 FRITH ST, SOHO, LONDON W1D 4RE WWW.RASASAYANGFOOD.COM BY ERICA TANG | @THECHINESEFOODIE
I've heard so many good things about it but only managed to visit recently. I can now see myself going back here time and time again until I've tried everything I'd like to try on the menu. And after that, I'd go back again many times to have the stuff that I know I love. Their strait BBQ set is amazing. Usually skewers can be a bit dry and meh but these are well marinated, tender and flavourful. Skate wing in sambal is another popular choice and delicious. They of course also do great curries, the beef rendang is on point, with fluffy roti that has tens of layers just perfect for a cool autumn day! MY SOHO TIMES
155A WARDOUR ST, SOHO, LONDON W1F 8WG WWW.HUMMINGBIRDBAKERY.COM BY KIRAN SELVAKUMARAN | @LONDONBEAUTIFULLIFE
During 2020 and lockdown I have definitely gained myself a sweet tooth (the scales can confirm this)! One of my favourite spots in Soho that fulfills my sweet tooth desires is Hummingbird Bakery on Wardour Street. Their cupcakes are so delicious that you can't just stick to one. The red velvet cupcake is my go to when I pop into the Soho. I am extremely excited for the Autumn special which brings a limited edition range of mouth watering treats such as their Pumpkin Pie, and holiday inspired varieties for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Hummingbird Bakery is a must hot spot to swing by to for your autumn treats!
Back To Biz: A Guide for Entrepreneurs and Freelancers after Lockdown With a decade’s worth of experience working with SMEs and startups, Lua Cooper Founder & Principal Consultant at Greengage, shares some advice on simple ways to get your business back on track again. Prepare to get out of your comfort zone - that’s good business practice. Not just because we’re facing a pandemic, but in general. The moment we stop learning and trying new ideas and start getting comfortable standing still, we are allowing ourselves to just survive when really we need to give ourselves the opportunity to thrive. There are core things all businesses and freelancers should be doing - but often overlook. Here are some key pointers to keep you and your business fighting fit:
Don’t stop learning. Power up your knowledge with free Google Digital Garage courses. The online tutorials offer an exceptional breadth of content from the ‘Fundamentals of digital marketing’ (which offers a certification) to ‘Expand a business to other countries’ created in conjunction with the Department of International Trade). Explore funding opportunities. Covid-19 has been tough on so many businesses, which is why the government and local authorities are offering support with a range of opportunities to help companies get access to extra funds. In partnership with CrowdFunder and the Mayor of London’s Back to Business matchfunding programme, projects or businesses that are in a London Borough could be eligible to receive up to £5,000 in match-funding.
Make sure people can find you. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how companies assume they are more visible to potential customers than they actually are. One way to do this is to register for your Google My Business page and start taking advantage of all the key features that can help your rank on search, and reach a bigger network. This is a quick, free and an easy win!
Customer engagement apps. Over the years, we’ve become familiar with companies offering loyalty stamp cards eg, ‘buy 9 coffees, get the 10th coffee free!’, but there are new ways to get customers into your store and stop them carrying around flimsy pieces of paper that they will certainly lose. This is just a small selection - there are many creative options out there.
Get your business visible on Google. Check out the Google Digital Garage online webinar training designed to help develop new skills. I cannot recommend it highly enough. You’ll learn more about how search engines work, how to build your online presence and how to continue to optimise this together with a profile in Google Maps. Delivered on YouTube by engaging Google trainers who’ll only take 60 minutes of your time - but you’ll come away eager to learn more. It even has an interactive Q&A section. If you don't love it, I’ll eat my shorts!
Look professional with an enticing and attractive website. Gone are the days when building a website has to be technical or expensive. Platforms such as Wix, Unstack and Div offer simple drag and drop builders with surprising ease and efficiency. Moreover, in 2020, 50.48% of traffic on the web in the UK has been on mobile devices. I cannot stress this enough, make sure your website looks good on a mobile. Prioritise this - it shouldn’t be an afterthought. Get back on track with a complimentary 45 minute consultation for SMEs and startups. Visit www.greengagedigital.com | @GreengageDigital MY SOHO TIMES
IT'S A DOG'S WORLD... From the bustling iconic streets to the 'off the beaten path' cobbled lanes, we discover the cafes and restaurants creating a dog-friendly society right here in London's Westend!
It’s been the perfect time to be a new pet parent. The city’s pedestrianised streets have brought its cafes and restaurants spilling out into the open air. Most have been happy to welcome dogs and their owners to their outside spaces and terraces. Clive the Bulldog joined my little family during the depths of lockdown. He arrived just in time to stem the rising despair I felt after being kept indoors for months. Since then he has been my faithful companion, exploring a newly awakened London. But as the autumnal nights draw in, and a chill fills the air, the summer’s outdoor social distancing solutions are fast losing their appeal. So as we’re forced back inside, we’ve been seeking out the West End’s most dog-friendly venues. Here are some of our favourites:
Paws... and have a coffee! Abuelo – Southampton Street If you’re after a beautifully crafted Australian brunch experience, Abuelo is the place for you. The interiors and menu have been designed by its architect owners. You'll find items as diverse as smashed pumpkin on charcoal, activated sourdough bread and a pulled pork croque monsieur. If you’re lucky you’ll even spot Clive’s friend, the resident Goldendoodle, Anni. @abuelocoffeelondon
Ole & Steen – Charing Cross Road I couldn’t contain my excitement when this branch of Swedish bakery Ole & Steen reopened. It had always doubled as my local bakery and ‘office’. I was even more delighted to discover they were happy to let me stroll in with Clive. We love coming here in the mornings to pick up some freshly baked bread and delicious pastries or just to sit and while away the time in its light and airy atrium. @oleandsteenuk Liberty London – Great Marlborough Street No trip to London is complete without a bit of retail therapy, and Soho’s most famous mock Tudor department store welcomes shoppers and their four-legged friends. Staff are always thrilled to see Clive when we wander in, and Clive has a blast exploring all the nooks and crannies of the building. Their online store also sells a range of dog toys, treats and clothing. @libertylondon
Hideaway Coffee – Smith’s Court Tucked away in a quiet courtyard, the aptlynamed Hideaway Coffee is a new discovery of ours. Recently reopened after lockdown, we love it for a morning coffee and catch up on the emails or for a post-dinner espresso away from the fray. Just off Brewer Street, it’s easy to imagine you are far from the hustle and bustle of Soho. They also serve a range of breakfast items and smoothies. @hideawaycoffeeKingly
The Espresso Room – New Row This is a veritable poochie paradise and one of our most regular spots. The Espresso Rooms became a lynch pin of the local community as lockdown restrictions eased. It’s also a regular stop for dog-owning Covent Gardeners after their morning meet-up at St Giles churchyard. Small in size but big on vibe, it’s a great spot to grab a coffee and a pastry and catch up onlocal gossip before a stroll around Covent Garden. @theespressoroom
Kingly Court – off Carnaby Street Don’t know what you fancy to eat? When in doubt, we head to Kingly Court. It’s colourful.It’s got variety. And crucially it’s outdoor seating is undercover. I love the fresh Mediterranean food at Whyte and Browns or grabbing an acai bowl at Acai Berry. Both outlets are more than happy to give Clive a bowl of water and a ton of attention. If you’re looking for something a bit closer to Old Compton Street, Balan’s Soho Society is also dogfriendly! @carnabyLondon @whyteandbrown @acaiberryfoods @balanslondon
The Duck & Rice – Berwick Street Last but not least, if you’d like to take advantage of the city’s late night offerings, the Duck and Rice brings together upmarket Chinese food by Alan Yau with the ambience of a Soho boozer. It’s not just dog-friendly, it’s positively propooch. Check out their Instagram stories where they proudly feature the latest canine visitors. @theduckandrice
Written by Jessica Toale | @jessica.toale Follow Clive the Bulldog's footsteps @clivethebulldog
Illustration by Daniel Morgenstern | @morgansterndaniel
MY SOHO TIMES
Memories of an Al Fresco Summer
Pedestrianising Soho's streets has been a lifeline for a multitude of local restaurants, helping to bring this cherished neighbourhood back to life. Anna Lahart takes us down memory lane to the not so distant summer evenings of al fresco dining...
19th March 2020. When I woke up and cycled to my desk in Wardour Street that Thursday morning, little did I know that it would be the last time I would do for four whole months. Of course, word had been circulating that London would soon be put under restrictions, but no one knew when, or even if that would happen.
Walking the streets of Soho that morning felt like a film scene. You know, where the protagonist awakens to find London hit by some sort of plague and tramps the empty streets dazed and confused. An eeriness to the streets that were emptier than ever; a sense of impending doom hanging in the air. With no ruling from government, businesses were open but desolate. The public were understandably nervous, so everything sat, abandoned and empty. Could anywhere be as challenging as Soho? Full of small, quirky premises, mostly with limited floor space. Would it be prudent to stay shut, keeping the wolf from the door? What would happen to the lively, buzzy Soho we love, if doors remained shut? Enter John James, managing Director of Soho Estates, who started working on a plan for the temporary pedestrianisation of Soho. Pretty simple; close the streets to cars, giving hospitality the outside space to fulfil the criteria for social distancing,
The streets that awaited me were awash with life! Gone were the boarded-up buildings. Instead: people! People walking the streets. Eating. Grinning. Laughing, happy to be back. As I roamed, soaking in Soho, the elation in the air was palpable and we all basked in the wonderful feeling together. Strangers smiling, waving at each other, giddy on the freedom we had all taken for granted before. Now, a real sense of hope. A ray of light that things were going to be okay. After months of fear and uncertainty, joy won that day. And since, every time I walk the streets of Soho, seeing the al fresco dining, the common thread through it all is happiness. Smiles at every table. A buzz that exists nowhere else in London. Everywhere else seems barren and unloved in comparison, while the streets of Soho brim with life. I know I am not alone in feeling this was a success. We have been inundated with messages from punters and proprietors alike; “Without Soho Al Fresco our beloved Soho would be a ghost town” Undoubtably we will all remember 2020 forever. For the most part it will be bad, but I will forever remember it as a time where everyone came together and mucked in to help save our Soho. Westminster City has extend the pedestrianisation of streets in Soho until the end of October. Visit www.saveoursoho.co.uk for more on the Al Fresco Soho campaign.
And so, Soho Al Fresco was born. John worked tirelessly; there were umpteen interviews and campaigns galore to get it off the ground. Finally, at the last second, the green light lit and it was full steam ahead, opening the same week – 4th July! Heading into town that day, I was full of nervous anticipation of what Soho had in store... Would anyone turn up? Would it be a success? I was not to be disappointed!
Photos: Rebecca Taylor Anna Lahart
MY SOHO TIMES
SAVING THE ARTS
Gillian Smith explores how the arts in Soho coped with lockdown and how the current reboot is faring. How are our music clubs, theatres and cinemas enticing the public back?
Photo courtesy of Soho Theatre
Well, here we are in the final quarter of 2020. A year that feels like two decades rolled into one, with an unhealthy dose of elements from centuries past we rather hoped we’d seen the back of, like plague. We’re not even at the end of it yet (the meteor missed us though, so that’s something). But as ever, Soho is not just enduring it’s evolving to keep pace with events, despite the massive financial hit the area has taken. Much attention has been directed towards the hospitality sector, and rightly so given its paramount importance to the whole of Central London. The businesses the bars and eateries serve however, have been very much engaged in their own day-today struggle for survival. Many of these are at the heart of the Soho arts and culture industry - film and TV production, music, art and radio. So what kind of chameleon acts did they pull off to stay afloat? After all, the area is nothing if not creative to its very vitals. A quick shuftie round the neighbourhood brought me to the doors of Soho Theatre, mercifully wide open even if they’re unable to mount full productions with an audience. Back in March, Creative Director David Luff, faced with overnight closure, was forced to consider his options.
“We quite quickly focussed our attention on our digital platform, Soho Theatre on Demand. So as opposed to retreating into a sense of hibernation we thought at least we can try and give people the opportunity to watch live comedy and theatre on that platform.” Just up the road on Newman Street The Farm Group founders Nicky Sargent and Vikki Dunn, two of the best known faces in the TV post production business, were similarly quick off the mark once lockdown became a done deal. As Nicky told us, “We literally had 60 edit suites operating out of people’s back bedrooms within a couple of weeks. The technical team were unbelievable. If it was five years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible but now editors can be sitting in their homes cutting footage from The Farm’s huge data storage.” Online smarts worked well too for artist Daniel Syrett, proprietor of the Runway Gallery, who usually curates for the The Century Club and Blacks. “The curating side and all the events, they stopped immediately. I literally haven’t run an event since Fashion Week, which was February 14th. Because my gallery doesn’t have a physical space though - I’m inside other venues - I was ahead of the game.” MY SOHO TIMES
Alfie, head of Public Relations. Photo courtesy of The Piano Bar Soho
Oddly enough Syrett’s online art business took off like never before, “My sales in April, May, June and July were over 1000%, better than the year before. Remarkable.” Now however, things are a lot quieter as buyers take stock of the future. The Piano Bar Soho, with its library and music production spaces was also able to access web resources, but their principle addition was more on the physical side - a black kitten called Alfie given to proprietor George Hudson, who lives in a flat above the club. Alfie’s ascension up the corporate ladder which let’s face it, he’s pretty well equipped to climb has been impressive, he’s now Head of Public Relations. But like many of the young today, he’s always on his Instagram account (@sohojazzcat). Important to stay connected of course. Communication has never been more vital. The precarious, day-to-day nature of the lives of creatives, be they musicians, actors or artists has been laid bare pretty starkly over the past few months. The desire to do whatever possible to help out was universal. Daniel Syrett has banded together within his group of artists to put aside 5% of every sale so that everyone
can have some money at least for materials if their work isn’t selling. The Piano Bar’s George Hudson set up a digital school for musicians to teach classes online. Soho Theatre was fortunate enough to have access to some big hitters and used their digital platform to release Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag for the benefit of several Covid-related charities, alongside a special support fund for freelancers. A more immediate lifeline for Soho residents during the early months - and beyond - was provided by Soho Radio and Clare Lynch’s The Soho Hour, which often provided the only link with the outside world for locked down locals. As Clare says, “I just cobbled together a working studio from home and we managed to make it work somehow. At the height we covered everything from where you could post a letter to getting a pint of milk. We had shared local news and stories, pandemic poetry, experts giving legal advice and virtual book launches on air. There were so many people who were not having any contact with anyone so it was a way of staying in touch.” As for the future… frankly who knows? WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK
Clare Lynch presenting from home during lockdown. Photo by Antonio Olmos
In mid-September confidence was building nicely. But with Autumn and a rising number of cases, new restrictions,10pm closures and challenges ahead it’s obviously increasingly difficult to formulate any long term strategy for the future. Plans are always afoot though, which is comforting. The Piano Bar has reopened, no doubt buoyed up by a TripAdvisor award placing it in the top ten attractions worldwide, not bad for a small independent jazz bar. George Hudson states, “We will certainly be open for ticket reservations every Friday and Saturday till Christmas, closing at 10pm, and we may open again on other nights if demand allows.”
swathes of their property portfolio because they can’t afford it.” Daniel Syrett thinks that might be a good thing. “This is an opportunity for Soho to become what it was. If it starts to invite the artists back in and gives them a credible and affordable area to live in and work, it can have some glory times. It’s about time they started inviting the artists back. The decision is in everybody’s hands.” One way or another though the spirit of Soho endures… and the core is holding. We’re still here, so watch this space!
And for Soho Theatre’s David Luff, “It’s that feeling of having creative life back within these walls. The energy feels so different after months and months of no-one being here, literally. We need to start inhabiting it again.”
PLAY YOUR PART TO SUPPORT THE ARTS Keep our eye on what’s re-opening on the music and arts scene and get those tickets booked while you can. Digital platforms have been a lifeline to the arts over the past few months but bums on socially distanced seats are what’s needed right now.
Almost all business owners felt that something needs to change when it comes to Soho’s high rents. As Nicky Sargent says, “ For every industry there will be much more home working. It should mean the rents have to go down to keep people in offices because if they stay at their peak people will just get rid of great
Despite the new measures the area is still doing its best to get live performance going again, particularly in smaller venues where numbers are easier to control. Go online and you might find your favourite haunt has plans for the future! Written by Gillian Smith | @gilllianasmith_ MY SOHO TIMES
TALES FROM THE COLONY ROOM: ART AND BOHEMIA
15TH SEPTEMBER – 20 DECEMBER 2020
DELLASPOSA GALLERY 2a Bathurst St, Tyburnia, London W2 2SD
if the walls could talk... What tales from the green walls of Soho’s Colony Room Club would they tell? What hidden secrets would they reveal about its regulars? Rumour has it if you weren't interesting enough you got kicked out. Freya Starr takes a look at Tales from the Colony Room: Art and Bohemia at the Dellasposa Gallery.
For the seasoned Soho frequenter, the name ‘The Colony Room Club’ strikes deeper than most. Whether it inspires fear, glee or for the lucky few, a nostalgic feel for the not so distant past, there’s no ignoring the infamous private members club, notorious for its debauched drinking and adorned by many famous faces over the years.. Now more than a decade after its closure in 2008 following six glorious decades of depravity - the Dellasposa Gallery’s exhibition, ‘Tales from the Colony Room: Art and Bohemia’ celebrates, amongst many other things, the artistic brilliance that graced its four walls. Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst were among many of the luminaries of the age who regularly drank and exchanged ideas at the famed haunt. Artist and curator of the exhibition Daren Coffield was a long-standing club member who began his days there as an art student. The exhibition coincides with the release of Coffield’s book, ‘The Colony Room Club: Soho’s Lost Bohemia’, which traces the oral history of the club from its inception in 1948 through interviews with its members. The journey of collation and execution has been an extremely personal one for him. He believes that the club has maintained its legendary status due not only to its famous habituees, but also to the dysfunctional family feeling it fostered. And of course, the tales of outrageous behaviour that arose. “It was a very private space, the club. But I think that’s what gave it this air. There was no signage, you walked through an anonymous doorway. So if you didn’t know it was there then you’d never find it.
It had this air about it of being slightly obscure. It was like Alice in Wonderland, going down the hole with the rabbit, but rather you go up the stairs.” The retrospective sees an eclectic mix of art, a reflection of the changing nature of art down the years. On the ground floor, a whimsical Freud portraiture hangs a room away from starker, more shocking works from the YBAs. While a step down to basement level, fluorescent lettering above the stairwell reads ‘Peep Show’ and covers photography from the likes of John Deakin. Rarely can such a diametric in the art world and over the progression of decades be seen in a single exhibition. It speaks volumes of the variety of talent that made the Colony Room a second home to artists for so many years. “The members there were breaking the boundaries of art.” Coffield explains, “And interestingly, a lot of the concepts these artists were rebelling against and coming to the Colony Room with, have become mainstream ideas. It was because it was a place full of like-minded people, who came there to entertain each other. It was a space where all the misfits hung out.” The club was established on Soho’s Dean Street in 1948 by Muriel Belcher, the legendary proprietress credited with helping launch Francis Bacon’s career; she affectionately referred to him as her ‘daughter’. Membership was awarded on the basis of skill in impressing the crowd with witty, clever conversation, rather than a standard payment package. Coalfield’s book features the voices of many Soho artists and characters who frequented the club. The author explains that its rich history made the process of collation fascinating. “Above all, what was great was it didn’t matter if you were a window cleaner or a famous film star, if you could hold your own, you were up there.” Coffield says. A fitting epitaph to the club and times gone by. Book your visit at: www.dellasposa.com MY SOHO TIMES
e, ntimat its... I a w a ! able at food Your t nd gre a d e x rela
Re-opening o ur doors to welcome you back in Novem ber!
"Found this restaurant listed in the top 10 Chinese restaurants in Soho. It certainly deserves its rating."
"I have been eating here since 2003. The food and service are always excellent. They are well organised for large parties and will provide assistance in planning a menu that is interesting."
"Highly recommend the schezwan prawns and the spicy soup".
Robin Smith gives us a glimpse of what's happening to the West End's oldest market | @SohoDairy @BerW1ckStMarket
It’s 6:36pm. Boris Johnson has made his statement. We’re shell-shocked but not surprised. I’m heading home to prep for a stock collection in North London, a 9pm rendezvous with a truck and 450 litres of high nutrition, low emission dairy to be stored in Soho overnight and distributed tomorrow. We’ll finish around midnight and start again at 5am tomorrow, as we have done since March 23rd and had planned to do through Christmas and into 2021. At lockdown Berwick Street Market crashed utterly and devastatingly as traders are self-employed and unsupported. Soho Dairy, Jimmy’s Quality Fruit (& Veg) and Lance’s Exotica lost 95% of revenues with all hotel, restaurant and bar customers being shut down and offices deserted. Street food traders lost 100% of their business having seen Chinatown fall quiet after Chinese New Year and the office dwellers’ exodus from the West End through February and March. Soho Dairy sales dropped from 3000 litres to less than 100 litres overnight; Soho Streets became instantly deserted and silence fell, punctuated only by church bells, bird song and, of course, jack-hammers. It may have seemed insane to think we should continue, but with suppliers’ bills rolling in, stock piling up and residents popping out every now and then to find out what just happened, we did. It was adapt or die - which made sense given the effort that has gone into Berwick Street over the last 5 years.
We’ve had some beautiful moments, and met some wonderful people along the way but also had more than our fair share of horrors. Near the top of the list, along with the agitated seagulls killing pigeons, is Westminster Council’s decision to backdate and increase pitch fees, which has no logic other than to destroy Berwick Street Traders economically having failed with the planned privatisation and 10 years of temporary licences. Soho Dairy was created to prove Berwick Street Market is alive and could support start ups, fresh produce and community-serving businesses we need in Soho. We do not operate out of self interest. We are a market stall which is reliant on the existence of a market and a community that supports it. During lockdown that community was thin on the ground, but while office workers vanished into thin air, residents, key workers and the emergency services appeared to keep us company and we them. It’s 7.36 and now I’m out of time - and given the Prime Minister’s most recent announcement, so are we all. Westminster City Council - you need to reverse the decision on pitch fees or there’ll be nothing of value left on which to build the new Soho. Words by Robin Smith. Photography: Ari Gurdon Lindey Read the full article on our blog www.mysohotimes.co.uk/blog
CAN'T GET TO SOHO? WE'LL BRING SOHO TO YOUR DOORSTEP! Never miss an issue of our quarterly magazine! Subscribe for £20 a year and get a welcome gift!
There have been many unprecedented changes this year wearing masks has been one of them. The subject is still a hotly debated issue; some see them as useless and emblematic of governmental control, while others view masks as a necessary means for protection against the virus. However with new regulations in place, it will be a long time until we see them disappear. So why not make a statement with yours? DOM&INK x Skinnydip have brought out a line of face masks which will make you the person that stands out from the crowd - for a good cause! DOM&INK is a freelance illustrator based in London, whose vibrant illustrations touch on themes including LGBTQ+ rights, mental health awareness and body positivity, as well as drag and girl bands. He was the official illustrator for Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK Season 1 and his book Free to be Me: An LGBTQ+ Journal of Love, Pride and Finding Your Inner Rainbow was recently published by Penguin Random House. UK Black Pride What’s special about DOM&INK’s new line of face masks is that all profits made will be donated to UK Black Pride. This year marks the organisation’s 15th anniversary, since 2005 it has been dedicated to providing a safe space for QTIPOC individuals at the same time as running the Black Pride event in London. Started by the formidable Lady Phyll, UK Black Pride has become Europe's largest celebration of African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Caribbean heritage and LGBTQ+ people, attracting nearly 8,000 annually. Apart from inclusive events and an active online community, the organisation also works on tackling issues in the LGBTQ+ community via campaigns such as #StopRainbowRacism, which aims to stop blackface performances at Pride events.
The Black Lives Matter movement offered a growing understanding around the intersectionality of race and sexuality, along with other issues that queer and trans black individuals face in the world. One example is the popular hashtag #BlackTransLivesMatter on social platforms, which has been used to highlight the systematic racism and everyday violence that black trans women face. “For the past year or so I've constantly wanted to do something that could raise money for UK Black Pride. Back in January I made a list of organisations I wanted to focus on this year and my number one was UKBP as the work they do is so important and the event itself is incredible and needed.” DOM&INK says. The colourful designs and the Pride inclusive flag on the masks are meant to symbolise the idea of unity and community at a time that could be especially alienating for some. On the subject of activism and what you can do as an activist just starting out, Dom suggests making a list of realistic things to focus on. “Activism needs a great amount of focus and also self-care, sometimes you need a break for yourself to get that energy back. I'd advise picking something to focus on and then think about how you want to speak about it. That could be through art, poetry, resources, a podcast, anything.” Change may seem slow at first, but after consistent efforts and hard work they happen, like the arc of a rainbow after a grey rainy day. Get your hands on a DOM&INK x Skinnydip mixed icon print face mask at www.skinnydiplondon.com. For more about UK Black Pride visit www.ukblackpride.org.uk Follow DOM&INK on Instagram @domandink Written by Kesh Wang | @keshbot212 Photography & Illustration by DOM&INK WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK
Overcoming the Lockdown blues
Lydia Johnson shares essential tips to help you get your mojo back!
It is safe to say (possibly the surest thing right now), we have all felt bleak and blue at some point during this year. The experience has often been isolating, gloomy and unpredictable and definitely not in the 2020 brochure. We may have lapsed into feeling lonesome, trapped in the monotonous daily news grind - the usual upbeat distractions designed to entertain our frame of mind having evaporated overnight. You are not alone. The blues, depression, the black dog or whatever you choose to call these hopeless feelings, can knock on our door at any time, it has no qualms or prejudice. Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you’ve been through a tough time, you can be persistently morose for weeks or months. "Hello lockdown blues….you’ve eeked your way in, please don't make yourself at home!" Altering your routine and behaviours (even the smallest decisions) changing your physical activity to stimulate endorphins, your food choices and, most importantly your way of thinking, are all natural treatments for depression. Now Autumn is fruitioning, let's feel more energised! It is our state of mind that will get us through the next phase and create more resilience. Mind Management is Paramount. It is vital to learn how to uplift your frame of mind. In sessions with clients, we focus on mind managing thoughts. Once we understand this aspect, lives change, your thoughts are integral to optimum living make them supportive. By elevating your thoughts, you do not need to go into deep emotion or get involved with the downward spiral. “The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle is essential reading and will set you up.. Important point: you cannot be grateful and depressed at the same time. Gratitude alleviates a negative mindset.
Making time each day to appreciate all you have shifts your focus to the positives in your life. Gratitude is the antidote to fear, anxiety and depression. Learn to switch off the Netflix boxset of epic stories in your own head. It’s important to wind down and give your mind a break from all the stories we reiterate day after day. To learn how to do this takes brain power and practice. It’s about creating a space and a time in your day or night to simply stop. Take a hot bath, read a book, prepare some nourishing food, turn off the device and feel connected from within. Turn down the negative noise - you so need to practice this - and tap into the calm and quiet by mediating, walking or yoga. Eat as much veg as possible and exercise. Gut health awareness. There is a link between junk food and depression. Serotonin (the feel good hormone) is made in the gut and, as a result, poor gut health can impact your mood. You are more likely to develop depression compared to those who eat fresh foods and vegetables. It is likely that the more rubbish we eat, the greater the risk not only of bad digestion but also of depression. Imagine your gut is a compost for your brain and feed it the nutrients it needs to thrive. We all know taking some form of exercise likely has the greatest impact on mood and reducing stress. It’s really hard to feel down after a walk in nature (even 10 minutes makes a difference) and it helps to balance our mood. Write down how you feel before and after a walk - notice the change, a mind elixir that just works. More techniques and tips available - ‘Turn Down Negative Noise Course’ - see our website for details or book a session www.londonclinicofhypnotherapy.com @londonclinicofhypnotherapy
SESSIONS AVAILABLE AT OUR SOHO CLINIC OR ONLINE FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR HOME...
WE TREAT: ADDICTIONS EMOTIONAL EATING ANXIETY EMOTIONAL ISSUES BAD HABITS STRESS BURN OUT PERFORMANCE ANGST
SELF-DOUBT TOXIC EMOTIONS IMPOSTER SYNDROME HIDDEN RAGE SELF-SABOTAGE PROCRASTINATION FEAR OF FAILURE NEGATIVE TALK
"Lydia has worked wonders in times of immense change. She is intuitive and incredibly understanding. I’ve learnt techniques for life I can handle the next challenge." - Dr A. Douglas
MY SOHO TIMES
RAJIV'S KITCHEN Chef Rajiv on the blessings of 2020 and shining the spotlight on Nepalese cuisine at the British Street Food Awards. Describe yourself to someone who doesn't know you? I was born and raised in Nepal. When I was trusted enough to expand my horizons, I decided to come to London for my undergraduate degree. I always had this unexplainable connection to the UK and used to be teased as an "English man" as my fake English accent would come out after a couple of pints. I consider London my home away from home. I am very highly motivated but laid back and tend to survive by focusing on positive aspects of life, which is reflected in the food I cook and serve. Where does your love for cooking and hosting come from? I was born in a kitchen just after luncheon (yup, home birth). Do I need to say more? No wonder I find solace there and all my creative ideas sprout when I am working on a new dish or menu. Also I was raised in a big family where I grew up watching grandma, aunties and mum cooking. I’ve always found it intriguing how ingredients work together to create something so wonderful on a plate. It's utterly fascinating to go through that creative process. So my love for cooking and hosting comes from the happy place that I first entered this world in: our family kitchen. What would you cook for someone new to Nepalese cuisine? There is a misconception that Nepalese cuisine is just Daal Bhaat Tarkaari rice, lentils and vegetables, which true enough is the staple diet in Nepal. But Nepalese cuisine is much more than that. Even though Nepal is a tiny nation, living in the shadow of two giant neighbours (India and China), it has 126 ethnic groups and 123 different languages. Hence, my goal has been to capture that essence in my cooking, sometimes in one single dish. I would prepare Momos, Choyela, Goat curry, Chukauni and obviously Daal bhaat tarkaari, which are the dishes from all four corners of Nepal.
WRITTEN BY KAI LUTTERODT | @THE.SOHO.GIRL PHOTOGRAPHY BY BIBBY PRODUCTIONS
You're a new father - congratulations! How were you able to navigate that and catering for food deliveries during lockdown? Thank you! Whenever I am asked this question, it makes me a tad emotional, still. Because It was an emotional time for everyone. And expecting a child during that time was even harder. But you have to search for positivity even when pushed into the abyss. It gave me an opportunity to cook healthy and nutritious meals for my pregnant wife every day. In a weird way, it helped me keep my sanity intact because I could be more creative with limited resources. I was also cooking and delivering free meals for NHS staff and volunteers. It was our way of thanking the NHS staff, so my eight months pregnant wife assisted me with prepping in the kitchen and later packing the meals, along with friends and family who were delivering the food. You've been selected as a finalist in the British Street Food Awards - amazing! What does this recognition mean for you and Nepalese cuisine? I am still pinching myself to see if it's real or just a dream. It's an unbelievably amazing thing to happen and I am beyond ecstatic to be part of BSFA 2020 and representing Nepalese cuisine. I count myself lucky to be one of the finalists. It means a lot and more to me. I will be able to feed authentic Nepalese food to people from different demographics and reach a whole new audience. My goal of putting Nepalese cuisine on the world culinary map seems more achievable now. So I am grateful to the BSFA board for providing me with this opportunity. I will try my best to make Nepalese cuisine and Nepal proud. Despite the current climate, it seems 2020 is your year! What's next for Rajiv's Kitchen? I am with you on this one. Even though 2020 has been such a dramatic year, in some ways, it has been quite good to us. We had our first born which has given us a new lease of life. Then being finalist in British Street Food Awards. We will be at Exale Tap Room in Blackhorse Road throughout the month of November with our street food menu, and we're planning to host a series of SohoSupperClub events in 2021! For updates, follow us across our social media platforms @rajivskitchen. Read the full interview on My SohoTimes blog, search 'Rajiv's Kitchen' WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK
"I believe the food you serve on a plate to your guests should tell a story..." - Chef Rajiv
MY SOHO TIMES
Up in the Air: From Soho to Athens.. The Soho Girls gets a taste of Greece!
A TASTE OF GREECE. Words and Photos by Kai Lutterodt | @travelmakerkai
Despite my passion for travel and a second hat as a travel journalist, Greece hadn’t yet made its way on my ‘been there, done that’ list. Prior to this trip my nearest connection to the host country of the first modern-day Olympics back in 1896, was a short-lived stay on Greek Street. 15 years ago my Soho life started when I moved into a small room overlooking what was once the Gay Hassar restaurant. Like many people who visit this end of Soho, I had no idea about its historical links to Greece. The street is thought to take its name from a Greek church built in 1677 in adjacent Crown Street (the northern part of what is now Charing Cross Road). Interesting to discover a connection which dates back way beyond contemporary years. There haven’t been many safe spaces where I’ve been able to share my lockdown experience, especially when it sometimes feels as if everyone else used it productively. For me, the reality of being stuck indoors for four months with only the ghost streets of Soho as my playground quickly took me to a dark place. I needed a break from my usual surroundings. Travel has always restored my equilibrium when life throws its very worst at me, so as soon as it was safe (and I completed my Bikram Hot Yoga offer) a taste of Greece seemed like the most reliable medicine. Eat, Love, Pray in Athens If ancient history and Greek mythology are your thing - Athens is the great introduction to Greece. For me however, the mere privilege of taking a flight was enough to lift my spirits, leaving me with no mandatory sight-seeing expectations. The plan, if you could call it one, was to create my own Julia Roberts starring role in a gastronomic adventure... I wanted to eat my way through Athens, love every bite and pray for more! Think layers of filo bougatsa, loukoumades (fried donut balls), fresh Greek salad with real feta cheese, seafood (ah the seafood!) with a chilled glass of local wine in hand. My base downtown put me in close proximity to many of the historical sites and a host of restaurants and bars. Museums were off my nonexistent must-do list despite the recommendations, though I felt less guilty because of all cities in the world, Athens really is an outdoor museum with plenty of opportunities to admire ancient artefacts from stunning panoramic views of the city, like at the sacred rock of the Acropolis at sunset. From there, an evening drink at the A for Athens rooftop bar overlooking the Acropolis and Monastiraki Square provided the closest example of pre-COVID Athens nightlife I would experience, as the house music beats from the live DJ filled the air, creating the vibe of a previous life without social distancing or masks. If like me seafood is the reason you’re yet to commit fully to being vegetarian, you’ll be spoilt for choice when you head to
the Piraeus bay area. Ta Vrachia Tis Pirekis (The Rocks of Peiraiki) was the recommendation of my Athenian friend Andrea. And it did not disappoint! Go for the fried calamari, steamed mussels, tender octopus and of course, Greek salad. Wash it down with the house wine - no labels needed. Service was friendly, but without the need to impress for a rating (clearly, as our server’s attention was diverted in every direction greeting local punters). Remote working It hadn’t occurred to me to share my trip to Greece when I booked, until a fellow editor asked why I wasn’t including it. And why not? So now I needed a quiet base to work from without muting my holiday mode. I sampled Lavrio, a port about 60km from Athens, and even ferry-hopped to Skiathos and neighbouring islands for time away from the bustle of the city. However, a recommendation from another friend, Calin, led me to Kineta, a small beach town in West Attica, about an hour’s drive from Athens, where I set up a base to work on this issue of My Soho Times. The equation of being in a beautiful picture-postcard setting overlooking the endless clear sea, autumn sun (not as harsh as its summer rival) and the adrenaline of having a deadline to meet somehow gave me all the motivation needed to get the work done! It didn’t mean I missed out on any of the amenities my accommodation offered either - access to the beach right below my terrace (pebbled, however puts Brighton beach to shame) a restaurant offering the most indulgent of breakfasts and lots of options for lunch or dinner. Not to mention outdoor activities such as RailBiking on an old railroad adjacent to the sea. My mornings may have been about emails over breakfast but afternoons were filled with the joy of being transported to an underwater world with a snorkel (my first time ever!) Greece offered me the mental space needed to appreciate how far I’ve come. Sometimes travelling isn’t about being on the move, but rather just being still… and staying at the Hotel Cokkinis was the taste of Greece I needed. No thrills, just natural beauty - and good food!
Don't forget to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before your travel to Greece. For the latest travel advice visit www.gov.uk
Looking to get away? Use my Airbnb code for up to £40 off accommodation and £10 off Airbnb Experiences: www.airbnb.com/c/ktravelmaker
For more info on my travels check out my blog www.travelmakerkai.com MY SOHO TIMES
The 'Rule of 6' and a 10pm curfew might require a quick reassessment but it needn't put a damper on your social life! At Zebrano fun is coupled with fantastic hospitality. Start your evening early to make the most of their Happy Hour 2-4-1 cocktails and house spirits. Once in, all you have to do is decide which of these six popular cocktails suit your personality best! Espresso Martini: Vodka, coffee, coffee liqueur served in a dry ice martini glass. Personality: You know your Abarica from your Robusto and you’re not afraid of a early evening caffeine hit! Now it’s a case of using up that energy while you can... Porn Star Martini: Grey Goose vanilla vodka, Passoã, passion fruit nectar. Personality: Definitely you’re the band mover and shaker responsible for bringing together the hardcore half dozen for that necessary night out. Mojito Bacardi 8 rum, fresh mint, lime, demerara sugar and soda. Personality: You're the adventurous one of the group - sipping on a mojito takes you to the Latin quarter moving your hips to the salsa beats! One Love Bacardi spiced, mango liqueur, mango purée. Personality:You’re in the island mood of peace and love! In the words of Bob Marley ‘let’s get together and feel all right!’ Hard to chill these days, but if anyone can, it’s you! Fashionista Bacardi spiced, Bailey’s, coffee liqueur, cream and salted caramel. Personality: Looking great is hard work! Here's a drink made just for you after a shopping spree on Oxford Street. Keep up the good work, the West End needs you! Margarita Tequilla, Cointreau, lime juice. Personality: You’re the realist of the group, but with a hint of salty glamour. Time is tight, no-one knows this better than you. Two for one, anybody?
MY SOHO TIMES
Our little square mile village has taken a huge toll over the past few months... Here's a reminder that Soho is Open - despite the endemic uncertainty for everyone and the hits which keep on coming. We're so grateful to the independent businesses that remained open throughout to serve the community with essentials, and what a delight it’s been to see so many other favourites, old and new, open up again once restrictions eased. One thing we know, for as long as it can, Soho will be back for business!
Our advertising rates start from as little as £120 firstname.lastname@example.org
MY SOHO TIMES
Food & Drink AMATHUS
113-117 Wardour St, Soho, W1F 0UN www.amathusdrinks.com
AQUA KYOTO Entrance 30 Argyll St, W1F 7EB www.aquakyoto.co.uk
B BAGEL BAKERY BAR 54 Wardour St, Soho, London W1D 4JF www.bbagel.co.uk
CHOTTO MATTO 11-13 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 4RB www.chotto-matte.com
CROSSTOWN DOUGHNUTS 4 Broadwick St, Soho, London W1F 0DA www.crosstowndoughnuts.com
Media & Digital Services
FAST TRACK BRANDING
EXPERIMENTAL COCKTAIL CLUB 13a Gerrard St, West End, London W1D 5PS www.chinatownecc.com
MY PLACE SOHO 21 Berwick St, Soho, London W1F 0PZ www.myplacesoho.com
PASTAIO 19 Ganton St, Soho, London W1F 9BN www.pastaio.co.uk
PIZZA PILGRIMS 11 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3RP www.pizzapilgrims.co.uk
ROBATA 56 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 4UE www.robata.co.uk
ZEBRANO 18 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4DS www.zebranolondon.com
ZIMA 45 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4SD www.zima.restaurant
YMING 35-36 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 5DL www.yming.co.uk
Fashion & Retail
14 Ingestre Pl, Soho, London W1F 0JQ www.dukescupboard.com
MARK POWELL BESPOKE 2 Marshall Street, Soho, London, W1F 9BA www.markpowellbespoke.co.uk
MISAN FABRICS 4 Berwick St, Soho, London W1F 0DR www.misan.co.uk
NICO DIDONNA 29 Great Windmill St, Soho, London W1D 7LN www.nicodidonna.com
POAN 37 Soho Square, Soho, London W1D 3QZ www.poan.com
TONY THE SOHO TAILOR First Floor, 16 Berwick St, Soho, W1F 0HP IG: @tonythesohotailor WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK
Beauty & Wellness LONDON CLINIC OF HYPNOTHERAPY
MARSHALL STREET LEISURE CENTRE 15 Marshall St, Soho, London W1F 7EL www.everyoneactive.com
OLIVER STEPHENS 2 D'Arblay St, Soho, London W1F 8DQ www.oliverstephens.com
SOHO FITNESS LAB 9-12 St Anne's Ct, Soho, London W1F 0BB www.fitnesslab.fit
THE LONDON SALON, SOHO 5 Carlisle St, Soho, London W1D 3BJ www.thesohosalon.com
THE WACKY BARBER 9-12 St Anne's Ct, Soho, London W1F 0B www.wackysoho.co.uk
WE ARE CUTS
41 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 5LW www.wearecuts.com
53-54 Berwick Street, LondonW1F 8SP www.ballieballerson.com
CURZON SOHO 99 Shaftesbury Ave, Soho, London W1D 5DY www.curzoncinemas.com
RONNIE SCOTT’S 47 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 4HT www.ronniescotts.co.uk
SOHO RADIO 33 Broadwick StreetSoho, London,W1D 0DQ, UK www.sohoradiolondon.com
SOHO THEATRE 21 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3NE www.sohotheatre.com
THE PIANO BAR SOHO 16 Carlisle St, Soho, London W1D 3BT www.pianobarsoho.com
THE SOHO SOCIETY
Museum of Soho www.mosoho.org.uk
My Soho Times www.mysohotimes.co.uk
WESTMINSTER RECYCLING www.westminster.gov.uk/recycling-and-rubbish
WESTEND COMMUNTY TRUST www.sohocaf.org.uk MY SOHO TIMES