My Soho Times Spring 2021

Page 1


In this issue: RESTAURANT KITS





editor's note

ready for the comeback... A year ago, just after the first lockdown was announced, I posted on the 'gram 'The comeback will be greater than the setback'... Despite the setbacks, we've rolled through with our biggest print issue yet! In this issue, we address the humble takeaway in both senses; literally and symbolically. We hail the hospitality industry for keeping us fed and watered; those open for delivery, pick up and kits (get 10% off at Restaurant Kits p.18). And we also speak to people from our wider community to hear their 'takeaway stories' lessons learnt from the past year, like Tina English and Natasha Naik daring to pivot fine dining Kanishka restaurant into an awardwinning takeaway service (p.48), and The Punk Queen of Soho reminding us of our strength - "We're Soho Strong!" (p.55). We begin our Spring issue in March - Women's History Month, and I'm reminded that 'Well behaved women seldom make history.' That includes those who don't speak out. Recent plagiary by those behind a supposed 'relaunch' of a 'Soho Card' bearing an uncanny likeness in name to My Soho Times and the tagline Live Work Play, has made me more determined than ever to show up boldly, loudly, and unapologetically... This will make some people uncomfortable (just imagine my discomfort being underrepresented from childhood). It is not OK to take ideas from those marginalised and re-brand them as your own. What is OK, and very much welcome at My Soho Times, is collaboration. I want to thank my Soho community for the messages of support during this incident. A powerful reminder of why I love what I do! My gratitude goes out to our small but mighty team, collaborators and partners large and small who've been with us on this journey.... that's a takeaway not displayed on any menu! Photo: Ivo Belohoubek

Editor's Picks for Spring

RE-OPEN Who else has the 12th April date etched in their mind as though Christmas (or a belated one!) Like most people I know, I too am so over lockdown and cannot wait to reestablish some sort of 'normality'... like socialising (even if social distancing), and eating food which I haven't had to cook!

The Soho Girl x

TALK One positive (no pun intended) that's come out of this past year is our ability to talk more openly about mental health. I've shared my issues with depression, anxiety and control around food. It's been a weight off my shoulders - literally. Let's continue to talk about mental health...

Kai Lutterodt Editor-in-Chief IG: @the.soho.girl

FITNESS Between me and you, I never got into the discipline of exercising at home during lockdown... It's not quite the same when you can hit the pause button! So the news about gyms opening from 12th April (fingers crossed) is music to my ears... postlockdown playlist coming up! MY SOHO TIMES


At the heart of our society is... MY SOHO TIMES is an independent hyper local lifestyle magazine, media and events platform launched in Winter 2019.

Soho is 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!

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 aim to grow a loyal readership for both our seasonal and online publications in a very short time.

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06 15


18 62 17


What's inside? 06 SPRING SHOP GUIDE

Warmer weather means picnic weather! We've put together a Spring Shop Guide bursting with must-haves for sunny spells coming our way!


We meet one of Berwick Street’s best known street food stall holders, the Pitstop run by Carol Wong.... Still there serving delicious Pan-Asian food. .

Find out how dining turned into 10 star takeaway and delivery operation across London for Mayfair’s Kanishka.




The streets is where it's at and where we meet people who LIVE WORK PLAY in Soho, in collaboration with photographer, Andrew Leo.

Meet Tom Griffiths, Chef and Founder of Flank and Goodbirds and the man behind Restaurant Kits - deluxe eating in the comfort of your own home.

This season’s must-haves, hot off the press. Go on, splash out, you deserve a little treat - or three.





OPEN FOR TAKEAWAY We scoured the street of Soho and beyond to track down what's open for takeaway, pickup and delivery!

As lockdown is lifted head on down to My Place on Berwick Street for the best coffee... or espresso martini!

62 WILL'S ALFRESCO DINING ROAD MAP Our Food & Hospitality editor gets us ready for Soho's big re-opening... All on board!


Contributing Editor: Gillian Smith @gilliansmith_ Contributors: Iram Khawaja @iram727| Marilita Hatzivassiliou @gourmelita| Andrew Leo @leoandphoto| Ari Gurdon Lindey @ari55 | Willliam P. Hanley @wphanley | Kamil Nowak @kamilnovakartist | Clementine Pellew-Harvey @clementine.rose.nutrition | Ivo Belohoubek @dogoodfilmsworldwise | Jessica Toale @jessica.toale | Tim Baros | Design: Fast Cover photo: Tapas Brindisa via Restaurant Kits © 2021 My Soho Times. Information correct at the time of publishing/printing.

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There’s no doubt that Soho restaurants have hit the ground running over the past year, what with swivelling between open air dining, outside seating and briefly, sitting down at an actual table indoors. They’ve adapted, but the time is fast approaching - hopefully - when they can get back to business with a capital B. So how did they adjust and what does the future hold? We summoned our regular contributors and editors to scour the streets of Soho - and beyond, to track down what's open for takeaway, pickup and delivery! Written by Gillian Smith, William P. Hanley, Iram Khawaja, and Marilita Hatzivassiliou. Photography by Kamil Nowak

BAR BRUNO Bar Bruno is a family-run Soho institution. The kind of establishment the area needs to hang onto for dear life. Famous for offering a range of British and Italian classics with an atmosphere to match, they’ve been doing a brisk takeaway trade - but still have concerns about the future. Proprietor Francesco, fondly known as Franco, is pragmatically hopeful, “A lot of companies, their staff are now working from home, they’re going to have an office in the West End or the City but not as much as before. But I do hope they come back and the tourists come back and the taxi drivers because when they do, we’ll all be busy again - the taxi driver works, the newsagents work and so does everybody else.” And when they do return, Francesco and his legendary breakfasts (not to mention the cannolis) will be waiting for them! 101 Wardour St, Soho, London W1F 0UG @barbruno101 MY SOHO TIMES



ZIMA RUSSIAN RESTAURANT Zima brings the best of Russian cuisine to Soho, serving traditional Russian dishes with a modern twist. Located across three storeys of a townhouse in the heart of Soho, Zima opened its doors in 2016. The infamous Nastoyka and Solenya are homemade, of the highest quality and long term favourites for customers. The Lazy Zima shisha lounge is the perfect addition on a hidden terrace. Available right now on all platforms for takeaway and delivery. Keep your eyes peeled for our seasonal specials and various offers on our website and social media platforms. 45 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 4SD @zimarestaurant



THE FRENCH HOUSE When discussing true Soho institutions, the French House on Dean Street will most definitely be towards the top of anyone’s list. It also happens to be an exception to the rule of teaching old dogs new tricks. Before the pandemic, the pub installed a new restaurant upstairs, headed by chef Neil Borthwick. The concise, seasonal ingredient-led menu lacks pretence and demonstrates that old school is best, fitting perfectly into the ethos of the French House. Expect a three course takeaway menu, showcasing the best British springtime produce. Being the French House, it should be obligatory to pair with a glass of champagne, or as the house rules imply: half a pint of beer.

DUMPLINGS' LEGEND Beneath the vibrant lanterns welcoming the lunar new year, Gerrard Street in the heart of Chinatown remains a buzzing hive of gastronomic activity, even in these restrained times . Steamy dim sum stalwarts Dumplings Legend are still trading their extensive range of delectable parcels of joy to take away. Make sure to order some soothing soup dumplings - the Xiao Long Bao - then wander down to nearby Leicester Square or the shadow of Nelson’s Column to enjoy them at their juicy best. Coupled with a fragrant cup of Cantonese tea naturally, as the Hong Kong lunchtime tradition strictly dictates. 15-16 Gerrard St, West End, W1D 6JE @dumplingslegend

49 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 5BG

SABOR EN CASA BOX WITH ESTRELLA GALICIA The Sabor en Casa Box with Estrella Galicia from Michelin-starred, Mayfair-based Sabor offers an indulgent, eight-course Spanish tapas feast which includes some of Sabor’s best-selling dishes; Ham Croquetas, Tortilla, Gambas al Ajillo, Pulpo a la Gallega, and Arroz Negro, now available to feast on at home. Accompanied by Estrella Galicia beers... Be transported to the sun-soaked shores of Spain! Priced at £96 for 2 people, with delivery available nationwide. 35-37 Heddon St, Mayfair, London W1B 4BR

POPPIES Fish & Chips has been Britain’s bread and butter of eating out since takeaway food began. The archetypal Friday night supper of crisp-battered, sustainably sourced fish has set the standard for everything wrapped up in newspaper and wolfeddown on the street (or carried home) ever since. Poppies on Old Compton Street has gained a loyal following from fans for years now. With the plethora of different and exotic options we have on our doorsteps, sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than going back to the food which literally is the backbone of our takeaway-based society. 55-59 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 6HW

YUNIQUE TEA LONDON Chinatown is a literal heaven for bubble tea lovers, with a wide selection of brands and flavours to try. One of my favourites is Yunique Bubble Tea. It’s definitely unique as I always find myself going back, excited to acquire another stamp on my loyalty card. The cafe boasts a white minimalist in-store design with cute human-sized photogenic teddy bears in aprons to complete the decor. My recommended picks include Brown Sugar bubble fresh milk tea as you can’t go wrong with a classic. If you love toppings and are undecided, go for the Combo milk tea which has a mix of brown sugar bubbles, grass jelly, and pudding. 10 Little Newport St, West End, London WC2H @yuniquetealondon WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK

CAROL'S PITSTOP For the street food stalls in Berwick Street, the disappearance of Soho’s office staff over lockdown was a particular wrench. But the technology that has kept them behind their own front doors will hopefully be instrumental in getting them back. So Carol from the Pitstop Cafe tells us at any rate. She’s recently re-opened her Asian food stall part-time and decided the best way to alert the neighbourhood was via social media. “We are telling people that we are open and I have a Twitter account too: @pitstopcafesoho, and from that there has been a great response. We’re trying to get the community, the people living here to come for lunches. I’m having customers come by and ask for their favourite dishes like curries - I still do those things because it keeps people happy.” Can’t ask for more than satisfied punters! Expect freshly prepared, hearty meals every Wednesday 12pm - 2pm at the Pitstop stall... Keep an eye on their tweets for the rotating menu! Berwick Street Market @pitstopcafesoho



GOOD FRIEND CHICKEN For a real taste of mouth-watering Taiwanese fried chicken, this is the place to go. Take it from someone who lived in Taiwan for a year and made it her mission to explore all the fried chicken spots across the country. The bright yellow shop located on Little Newport Street is unmissable and when you see it, take it as a sign to walk in. Must-tries include Popcorn Chicken and the Volcanic Cheesy chicken breast, deep-fried with melted cheese oozing out of the middle. Best of all, food is halal too. 14 Little Newport St, West End, WC2H 7JJ @jichickens

KOLAMBA Get ready for an explosion of flavours, spices and colours from this Soho favourite. Kolamba’s newly launched at home feasting kits are delivered straight to your door. Choose from their delicious Ceylon chicken curry feast, complete with dhal, rice, green bean and beetroot curries, chutneys and sambols, or their mouthwatering vegan feast which includes a jackfruit curry. Nationwide delivery and you can order kits via their website. 21 Kingly Street, Carnaby, London W1B 5PP

CLUB MEXICANA The vegan restaurant in Kingly Court has created an Al Pastor Taco DIY Kit, which includes enough Mexican grub for a party of four. All the ingredients are on hand to assemble vegan al pastor tacos – including corn tortillas, charred pineapple chunks and seitan in a spicy al pastor marinade (it’s usually pork or lamb in the classic Mexican street-food dish). There's also an option to add their tasty Margaritas and loaded nachos; they even have a Megabox Taco kit, with enough for 6! Ground Floor Kingly Court, Carnaby, W1B 5PW

KOYA MAIL Udon specialist Koya has launched a doorstop dashi service, so you can get their freshly made udon and vegan or fish dashi delivered direct to your home. All you need to do is heat it up and the fun part - choose your toppings. Top picks at Tonic HQ include mussels and hake, soy-glazed roast pork, and super-simple spring onions and toasted sesame seeds. At £14 per kit (which is enough for two), it’s the most accessible way to enjoy the expertise of a great Japanese kitchen in your own home. 7 Broadwick Street, Soho, London,W1F 0DA WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK

TAPAS BRINDISA Spanish Soho foodie favourite, Tapas Brindisa, recently launched their Calçotada at home kits on Restaurant Kits. The Calçotada is a seasonal tradition centred around the calçot (a hyper seasonal vegetable similar to a giant, sweet spring onion). Traditionally, Catalans meet in the countryside to cook and feast together on the calçots. It’s much more than just a winter vegetable; it’s a social gastronomic occasion. Calçotada season is fleeting, but keep an eye on the Restaurant Kits website (p.19) to see the next seasonal kits, all with nationwide delivery. 46 Broadwick Street, London, W1F 7AF @brindisaspanishfoods MY SOHO TIMES


MEET TOM GRIFFITHS Head of Partnerships at Restaurant Kits, Chef and Founder of Flank and Goodbirds


TELL US WHAT MAKES RESTAURANT KITS SPECIAL? Our team. We have a talented bunch of people I hand picked for this company and wouldn’t change them for the world, they are dedicated and focused and have a great deal of energy. We believe we are taking meal kits to another level, with an engaging experience, incorporating music and lifestyle. Nobody else is coming close.

WHAT’S LIFE LIKE AT RK HQ? Being at RK as Head of Partnerships really has no limits. I want to work with the best, creating crazy content, with clients from museums to films, putting together the ultimate adult happy meals. Relationships are everything and hospitality has that at its core. I still have Flank and Goodbirds, and we are on the hunt to expand, but I also am loving my position at RK too.

TELL US ABOUT THE NEW KITS YOU HAVE COMING UP WHAT CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO? The next few months for Restaurant Kits are going to be incredible - we are working with record labels on some collaborations that are super exciting. I've enlisted some of the best chefs in the UK and globally to collaborate with over the next few months, so there are going to be some amazing limited edition kits dropping every few weeks for the rest of the year. Literally, it’s all gonna pop!

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS THE RIBINATOR AND WHY DID YOU CREATE IT FOR RK? It’s been something I’ve been developing for years, since the early days of Flank in Spitalfields Market, when I wanted to create a ridiculous sandwich dredged from the depths of my memories of the McRib. Instead of trying to be hipster naming the cuts of meat as fermented this and that for a typical insta perfect photo, I went all out ridiculous with references to the Terminator, hence calling it the RIBINATOR. It’s really fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a regular sell-out. There's loads more of them to come in the future - all through Restaurant Kits.

I am as excited as the next chef that restaurants are reopening soon, but what we're doing here is more than just filling a hole in lockdown, it is a totally new way of dining. We aren’t just sending a ready meal that looks pretty, we want to make the content immersive and completely exclusive to Restaurant Kits. So when it comes to dinner parties after lockdown we are the people you’re going to hit up.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY IN YOUR OPINION? I think the industry is gonna bounce back harder than ever, and the positive side to corona is it’s opened so many new doors, restaurants from London or even worldwide can now be eaten at home. We just wanna help explore possibilities and bring some wild experiences into homes in the UK.

GET 10% OFF AT RESTAURANT KITS! Use MYSOHOTIMES10 to get 10% off at checkout on all orders, nationwide delivery. @restaurantkits MY SOHO TIMES


AVO BAR A relaxed, exotic, atmospheric cafe in Covent Garden offering a new take on healthy, fresh food. Everything is avocado based! Enjoy delicious cocktails, avo-bun burgers - the lobster one with mango sauce is to die for - tacos, superfood salads and poke bowls, as well as all-day brunching and of course, avo-based desserts! The food here is colourful, nutritious, tasty and delicious at the same time, with options for vegans and vegetarians too. Overall, you always leave Avobar with a happy belly.

HIDE Michelin-starred perfection by chef Ollie Dabbous. Hide is breathtaking in every aspect - from its famous tree-like imposing staircase, to the truly exquisite food, it’s a must-visit restaurant. Split into three levels boasting three different concepts, Hide offers a unique experience with each visit. Hide Above offers two tasting menus, Hide Ground the A La Carte, (starting with breakfast) and Hide Bellow hosts gorgeous private rooms and a spectacular bar. Every dish emphasises natural flavours, the combinations chef makes are unique and each bite is swoonworthy! 85 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7NB

24 Henrietta St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8ND

EL PIRATA A hidden gem in Mayfair, serving authentic traditional tapas in a relaxed informal atmosphere- perfect for a date night. El Pirata dining is always an experience to remember! The menu consists of all essential tapas and the best Spanish cuisine has to offer. The quality of ingredients is obvious in every single bite. Everything tastes homemade and this also extends to the family-run restaurant feel you get from the dedicated staff who are always warm and welcoming. Try their amazing Iberian wines, Bellota Jamon, padron peppers, seafood and meat dishes as well as the delicious Crema Catalana. 5 - 6 Down St, Mayfair, London W1J 7AQ

CIRCOLO POPOLARE A glam Sicilian trattoria in the heart of Fitzrovia that stuns from the moment you walk in, which might have something to do with the fact that it’s decorated with 20,000 bottles. Part of the Big Mamma Group, this place is memorable to say the least. The food is classic Italian fare with generous portions and delicious desserts. Think Burrata, truffle pasta, pizza, colourful salads and creamy, fluffy, yummy desserts. Beautiful cocktails served in specially made ceramics complement the menu and the overall vibe is fun! 40-41 Rathbone Pl, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1HX WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK

THE REAL GREEK Did you know that now you can make your own The Real Greek souvlaki at home? In addition to their normal takeaway deliveries via UberEats, Deliveroo and Click and Collect, the restaurant has collaborated with Great Food 2U and created two amazing souvlaki kit boxes - one chicken and the other haloumi - that contain all the prepped ingredients for you to create their famous street food staple at home! The result is succulent, delicious, rich souvlaki that with the first bite instantly transports you back to holiday times in Greece. On top of that, they have also just launched their own Greek food-market e-shop, “Agora”, where one can find all of the ingredients - directly sourced from Greece- that they use to create their delicious dishes! Imagine a glorious selection of authentic Greek products like cheese, wine, olive oil, legumes and handmade pasta delivered straight to your doorstep. Cooking Greek food with original ingredients is the dream! 50 Berwick St, Soho, London W1F 8SJ @therealgreekuk



ABENO OKONOMI-YAKI A critically-acclaimed, family-run business in Bloomsbury since 1999, Abeno is Europe’s original Okonomi-yaki Restaurant. In the age of Covid, they have both refined and developed dishes to accommodate both collection and delivery. Continuing to source organic and sustainable ingredients wherever possible, Abeno offers obento boxes, okonomi-yaki, yakisoba and teppan-yaki, in addition to a selection of side dishes and cook-at-home sets for delivery within a 10 mile radius. Indulge yourself with our home-made maccha ice-cream, with or without mochi, and their Japanese-style hot-cakes – everything necessary to re-create an authentic Japanese culinary experience in your own kitchen. 47 Museum Street, London, WC1A 1LY @abenookonomi

LINA STORES We are in time of war in Britain once again, fighting an invisible enemy to the best of our ability, pulling together for victory as a nation. Lina Stores has already survived the tail end of one war, being established on Brewer Street in 1944. Already famous as one of the great Italian delicatessens, like so many in the hospitality industry in the West End, they are innovating their way out of crisis. In addition to a new restaurant on Greek Street, the new online store features the best of the food counter, plus fresh pasta dishes and cupboard essentials to rustle up from your own kitchen. 18 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 0SH

PIZZA PILGRIMS Restaurant boxes are now ubiquitous. A definitive example of how innovation can triumph in times of crisis in order for businesses to not only to survive, but to thrive in the future also. The Pizza Pilgrims box was one of the very first I tried during the first lockdown last year. A totally original method of creating the best authentic Neapolitan-style product at home without having to fashion an enormous pizza oven in your own kitchen. It’s also really good fun to make and develop your own creative signature. Don’t forget to order the super sumptuous Nutella ring for your pudding. 11 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3RP

DOUGHNUT TIME One luxury that has become a guilt-free essential during the past year has been the justifiable demand for sweet treats to lift the mood. And the confectioner that has certainly broken the mold is Doughnut Time on Shaftesbury Avenue. It’s taken a long time for quality doughnuts to enter the game in London (I remember the days when Krispy Kreme were exclusive to Harrods Food Hall). The enormous, superinstagrammable creations from this doughnut hatch include classics such as the (Kinder) Bueno Mars and a nod to the world’s most famous doughnut proponent, Homer Simpson, and his super-sized D’oh Nut. 118 Wardour St, Soho, London W1F 0TU WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK

MASION BERTAUX Maison Bertaux, founded in 1871, is the oldest patisserie in London, now run by sisters Michelle and Tania Wade who have managed the shop since 1988. The success of their fundraiser during lockdown #1 is testament to their customer’s ongoing loyalty. And no wonder. Window displays of home-baked pastries (arrive early for your chance to get hold of the almond croissants before they sell out) with added treats of cream cakes, chocolate, marzipan and fruit for good measure. When they're back to being fully reopen, pick your spot for a proper tea served in white china – in true French style. 28 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 5DQ @maison_bertaux MY SOHO TIMES


I CAMISA & SON “If you’re after authentic Italian ingredients, served to you by real Italians in a properly Italian setting in the heart of Soho, i Camisa is a must.” So says one of many ringing endorsements of Old Compton Street’s most popular alimentari. I camisa & son is more than a grocery store selling the very best pastas, cheese and fresh produce. It’s a stayer. During the very first lockdown in March of 2020 with very little guidance available, pretty much everything closed down. Not i Camisa. They’ve been there for their customers throughout the past year, keeping pretty much normal daytime opening hours. And now that we’re nearly ready to gear up again? It’ll be business as usual, just like the last 12 months for everyone. GERRY’S WINE & SPIRITS When it comes to bouncing back in Soho, it helps if you’re a specialist operation actively sought out by your customers. Gerry’s Wine and Spirits on Old Compton Street have been plying their trade for well upwards of 30 years. What they don’t know about tequila, rum and myriad other alcoholic beverages definitely isn’t worth knowing. Head Honcho Allen Daly reckons it won’t be long before business is booming, “When it all starts up again, we’re going to come back with a bang. I think so. With luck not so many people will have become too comfortable with the online business - there’s no substitute to actually coming into a place and talking to someone. Hopefully people will be craving that contact with us and come back and see us because we’re quite popular!” That’s the spirits!

61 Old Compton Street, Soho, London W1D 6HS

74 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 4UW

ALGERIAN COFFEE STORES When you’ve been supplying coffee and tea since 1887 (which at the last count includes keeping calm and carrying on through two World Wars and the previous pandemic of 1918) I guess two - or three - lockdowns aren’t going to stop you trading. The Algerian Coffee Stores is just such an emporium. On the day of our visit, customers queued patiently outside on Old Compton Street, waiting to ponder the choice of over 80 coffees and 120 teas, sourced from the four corners of the globe. In fact they were so busy with customers, they weren’t able to speak to us. Which we loved - a clear sign that Soho is headed onwards and upwards. Powered by some great cups of coffee. 52 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 4PB @algerian_coffee_stores WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK

SOHO DAIRY It’s taken a superhuman effort over the past year to stay both afloat and positive. But for Robin Smith of Soho Dairy on Berwick Street, there’s another reason to be optimistic. The future. “We love what we do, we love Soho, we love Berwick Street, that’s why we’re here… it’s 330 years old and it’s staying here while it’s on our watch. This market needs to be part of whatever happens next. It’s about conversations and stories and sharing real life. One thing that’s come out of the last year is people talking to each other about things that matter. People need us. We’re the backbone of Soho. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity we’ve got now to actually change something. This could be a fantastic food centre again, which is what it historically is. We have to remember, this is the street that built the West End.” Berwick St. Market, Soho, London W1F 0PH @sohodairy WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK



HOBSON’S FISH & CHIPS If there’s one dish calculated to give you the fortitude (and the carbs!) to get through pandemics, lockdown, uncertainty and isolation it’s life’s takeaway staple - fish n’chips. Despite opening up shop just as lockdown was announced, Hobson’s have shown their staying power and remained open throughout. Which was pretty cheering when you consider their extensive menu. We’re not talking cod and spuds here, their reach is way, way bigger. How about salmon, sea bass and gluten-free fish options? In addition to the plaice and not to scoff, cod (well actually lovely to scoff)… Plus calamari rings, veggie burgers and… deep fried Mars Bars?? We’ll just leave that here. Wow.

BURGER & LOBSTER As the name clearly states, here you’ll find burgers and lobsters! They serve wild, live Atlantic lobsters, prime cut and aged beef burgers, the most delicious lobster rolls ever and outsize cocktails - some made to share. The relaxed atmosphere and delicious food always make this restaurant worth a visit. The lobster is cooked to perfection- you get a choice of grilled or steamed and the lemon and garlic butter it comes with is out of this world. The burgers are noteworthy too, and the best thing is if you can’t make up your mind, you can order one of their delicious combos!

27 St Anne's Ct, Soho, London W1F 0BN @hobsonsoho

36-38 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 4PS

CAKES & BUBBLES Heavenly! That’s the only word to describe fine pastry chef Albert Adrià’s dessert and champagne restaurant at Hotel Cafe Royal on Regent Street. Every visit is an experience to remember - the creativity behind the amazing desserts and overall elegance of this venue are unparalleled. There are surprising twists on classics, as well as innovative creations. Must-tries are the golden egg flan, the signature cheesecake, the baklava pillows, the rose and all the specially created seasonal dishes. Enjoy whilst sipping on one of their smooth hot chocolates or a glass of exquisite bubbly! 70 Regent St, Soho, London W1B 4DY

ANTIDOTE, CARNABY Trailblazers in the natural wine movement, Antidote have dedicated themselves to celebrating organic, low intervention and biodynamic wines for the past 20 years, whilst continuing to be a much-loved hangout for commuters and Soho locals alike. The intimate Newburgh Street wine bar recently launched an online shop that boasts an extensive range of premium bottles from independent European growers and producers. Wine lovers can choose their own bottles or opt to order a pre-designed seasonal hamper curated by the owner Guillaume Siard. The online shop offers nationwide delivery, and a 10% discount to all Antidote Members. Memberships can also be purchased online for £10. 12a Newburgh Street, Carnaby, London, W1F 7RR WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK

TRUFFLE BURGER BAR Truffle’s fully stacked burgers are nothing short of a decadent and fragrant assault on the senses. A unique blend of aged beef and bacon - to provide the essential fat content comprises the main event, served a perfect medium rare. This beefy behemoth sits proudly atop a sweet fig jam underneath and is topped with oozy raclette cheese, crispy onions and lashings of truffle mayonnaise. The chip offering is essential too: loaded with parmesan & truffle oil. There isn’t a burger experience out there quite like it! 22 Bateman St, Soho, London W1D 3AN @trufflelondon



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AMAL OMARI A&R Consultant & Soho Radio Presenter

"I used to work behind the scenes back in 2014/15 for a startup radio station and eventually thought, why not give it a go and play some of the music that I like? Just been doing it for fun ever since.

I love a bit of soul, R'n'B, music with a bit of meaning and substance. I hope that listeners to my show can take away new ideas and new philosophies of life alongside amazing music. And there are very chilled zen moments in there as well. My show is two hours long - that's split in between new music and new artists but also focuses on mental health and the wellbeing of the individual.

I've been calling the past year 'Flourishing in Chaos', so I've been able to free myself in many ways from the world of capitalism. I'm hoping a lot of us have been able to free ourselves from the chains that hold us... we'll see how long that lasts!"





Inked in Soho

Diamond Jacks Tattoo Parlour Despite a recent facelift, Walker’s Court is still home to some of the last of Soho’s establishments from the years of neon lights. The Tattoo sign still shines above the door of Diamond Jacks, which has been offering body art since 1985; it was founded by Dennis Cockell who still works with the current owner of over 20 years, Darryl Gates. Enter through the discreet single door, proceed down a corridor and up the stairs, walls lined with all the memorabilia you would expect from a 36 year history in Soho. “Nothing has been changed here, including the speakers, fixtures and fittings. They’re exactly the same as they were in the 1980s,” says owner and tattoo artist Daryl Gates, proudly pointing out ‘vintage’ fixtures. He is an old school craftsman believing - and is himself a testament to that belief - that quality will speak for itself without much advertising. “It brings the currency and integrity of what we do down a bit.” he adds. Diamond Jacks is all about tradition. “We’ve never changed styles or followed trends, they come and go. We do tattoos that look like tattoos,” he sums it up neatly with a smile. His client list is as impressive as it gets in the Rock n’ roll world. “We’ve done all the guys from the Cult, Nick Cave, Libertines, Florence and the Machine.” He drops just a few names, not to boast, but as a proof of his pedigree.

Words by Kai Lutterodt & Ivo Belohoubek Photography by Kamil Nowak Diamond Jacks isn’t trendy enough to attract the young crowd but its clientele retains the aura of legends of the golden years of rock and punk and Daryl likes to keep it that way. “We have people up to 90 years old and they are easier because they know what they want and don’t change their mind all the time.” His tattoos are frequently seen in the House of Commons and Downing Street even though this time he won’t be dropping any names. Tattooing has changed over the years, Darryl admits. “15 years ago we would get the Monday crowd after they got their methadone, it was quite rough,” he confides, “Now we get loads of professionals and it’s more friendly.” Despite the changes Darryl likes his art to be a little bit edgy. “Tattoos shouldn’t be too easy, too fluffy.” The past year has made Daryl realise that he can’t take it all for granted. “It made me stop and think hard about the fast life I‘ve been living for the past 20 years. I am a lot more relaxed and in better shape than I was before the lockdown both mentally and physically.” Never judge a book by it’s cover - now that’s a moral we should all have inked on our minds! 5 Walker's Ct, Soho, London W1F 0BT | @diamondjacks MY SOHO TIMES


OLIVER SCHOLTE Creative Director at Oliver Stephens

‘We’re a unisex salon specialising in Precision Haircutting , Organic Colour and Organic Perming.

The past year has been a rollercoaster ride, but when we do reopen after lockdowns, there’s big demand from our loyal clients! We’re also attracting new clients which is fantastic! The lockdowns gave us the chance to stand back and reflect on our business as a whole. We’ve adapted and even used this latest lockdown to have a salon refresh. Our lighting is now softer and more contemporary which is so much more complimentary.

My biggest realisation this year is how invaluable our clients loyalty is and how that makes it so special and unique to all of us. That loyalty has prompted me to keep in touch with our clients, whether that be by sending a small message, social media or a telephone call.

We’re a family run business and our close bond is the essential foundation to making it successful . Dad even pops in to help me out every now and then when I’m up to my ears in it! I’m really excited to reopen in April and welcome everybody back."



Photo: Andrew Leo

PR Consultant & Editor-in-Chief

“I’m a South London gal at heart, but Soho is where I’ve been lucky enough to call home for the past 17 years.

It took a while to find my calling in the community - I used to think to survive in Soho I needed to be invisible and, ironically, mind my own business (there’s a pun in there somewhere!). I have decided to make a difference by creating a platform for businesses and emerging content creators alike, which has become a lifeline for many in the middle of endless lockdowns.

I have stepped out of the shadows to be an influential part of my community. Better now than never, right? I want to be a champion for SMEs as well as be a voice for my community through My Soho Times… feels like I’ve finally found my place in Soho!"





When Lockdown is Lifted... Let's Meet at


Written by Ivo Belohoubek Photography by Kamil Nowak

If you haven’t been to My Place Soho, you should go as soon as it re-opens. Over a hearty brunch or an espresso martini, you get to mingle with Soho locals and old timers in a friendly and buzzing place. Brain – or love - child of two veterans of Soho hospitality, the idea to open a coffee shop probably started as a late night or early morning chat over a drink in one of Soho’s many bars. “You are very good at getting people sober with your coffee, and I am good at getting them drunk,” laughs Sam Maqedonci with his business partner, Dini Shahini.

kept telling people to come to my place until they thought that it was called My Place,” both laugh.

“It’s a cozy place with good coffee, great lunches and lovely people.” Sam sums it up. “We got so lucky being supported by the neighbourhood,” adds Dimi. “We have the same people coming here every day, we are part of the scene.”

“The only positive thing was family time,” adds Dimi, “we are both young fathers and the kids finally had the opportunity to find out who their father is.” Both can’t wait to reopen when restrictions allow. “You can expect a lot of happiness in My Soho Place!” concludes Dimi. Agreed!

The story of the name itself is the stuff of legends. “When we bought it, it was a sandwich bar. We painted over the sign and had no name for a while,” explains Sam, “We just

“It’s been really tough,” Sam turns serious when reminiscing about the last year and its impact on hospitality. With limited support from their landlord, a brief respite came from Westminster Council that allowed them to open with tables and chairs outside over the summer to make up some of the lost revenue. “If it wasn’t for Al fresco Dining, we wouldn’t have survived,” Sam says.

21 Berwick St, Soho, London W1F 0PZ | @myplacesoho MY SOHO TIMES




Luxury Fashion Inspired by Italy - Made in Soho

Nico DiDonna

Despite his initial training and critical acclaim as a menswear designer, Nico DiDonna also knows his way around a woman's body.... like the varying ways materials drape effortlessly around the curves of the bosom and hips, giving just enough snatch on the waistline (with room to accommodate lockdown weight). He's good at what he does and it shows. I'm not one to miss an opportunity to play dress-up when I'm in the presence of Soho's renowned Italian-born designer. I listen intently to his responses to my attempts to conduct an interview, which turns out more like a casual catch up with a friend who allows you access to their extensive wardrobe. I'm mesmerised by my transformation in an outfit chosen for me to try on. I can't hide my awe of his genius in producing multi-functioning garments, many of which are designed with minimal fabric waste. "All the products we do are mostly one-off, making it selective to the person wanting to buy. Most of our clients, they really want me to assist them, to help them." And I can see why. Nico has an elegance and charm about him which puts you immediately at ease. There's no judgement in his presence. The body is merely a mannequin to be transformed and adorned with his limited-edition masterpieces, that's enough to make anybody feel special. "Even when they come the first thing they ask is 'Is Nico in?' and if I'm not here, they say 'OK I'll come when Nico is in!'" But now they're less spoiled! "They've been buying online,

Written by Kai Lutterodt Photography by Kamil Nowak

securing what they want, because they know me, they know my product... for once they cannot have my undivided attention!" Nico, a London College of Fashion graduate, opened his first atelier in Berwick Street in 1999. It was there that he established himself as a ready-to-wear menswear designer. His cutting edge bespoke tailoring collections became iconic on London's new millennium club scene, while as a designer, his Italian heritage is integral to his brand identity. He has always made it a point to merge tradition with multicultural London, which has resulted in the sleek Nico Didonna signature look. Nico reflects back to '97 and his humble beginnings, "All of this, I started from my kitchen, no investors." An opportunity arose to rent a tiny space inside what's now the Rainforest Cafe. "I thought, 'on a Friday, in a club, how am I going to sell clothes?'... well, you wouldn't believe how popular it was. It put me on the map! That's how I started.” And long may Nico continue. "My biggest lesson from the past year is that you can never rely on tomorrow. If you can't do it today" he dismisses with a wave, "that's it! That's my takeaway." 29 Great Windmill St, Soho, London W1D 7LN | @nicodidonna MY SOHO TIMES


Filiz Ayan

Photo: James Mason

Seven Mor

"Mor jewellery has been in Carnaby village since 2005, offering designer jewellery based on three generations of family jewellers.

The cosmopolitan nature of the area and its homage to designers throughout history has also welcomed us and in return we have contributed to the hip, modern vibrant and contemporary boho culture of Soho with our unique jewellery.

It goes without saying that Shaftesbury Carnaby plc has played a huge role in the regeneration of Carnaby Street and Soho. During the pandemic they have helped and supported retailers immensely and we are positive that we will get through these challenging times and continue to serve our customers."


Refill Retail... Earthly Matters In these days of environmental awareness, we’re all encouraged to cut down on the waste - not that easy when you think how much packaging comes as standard. But if you’re looking to up your green credentials in an instant, look no further than Earthly Matters at 5 Newburgh Street. The store is a zero waste refill shop, the first of its kind in Carnaby. It stocks an extensive range of organic, allergenfree products, including fresh and dried groceries, health supplements and toiletries. Fill your boots (or preferably your own empty containers or ones bought in-store) with nuts, grains and cereals - and don’t forget the vitamins and vegan proteins. At the same time, glass jars can be refilled with shampoos and soaps from their excellent range. No rubbish - no stress - and no waste! 5 Newburgh Street, London W1F 7RG @earth_lymatters

Written by Gillian Smith Photography by Ari Gurdon-Lindey | @ari55





A Cosy Nook in The Heart of Soho

London Clinic of Hypnotherapy

in the present, “It is about utilising the power of now, being conscious thinking and subconscious patterns of behaviour holding you back.” Lydia Johnson, founder of London Clinic of Hypnotherapy, eloquently sums up the importance of her practice, busting age-old myths of a coin swaying from a thread. Right in the heart of Soho on Marshall Street, amidst the buzz and mayhem of revellers, lies an oasis of peace and healing: The London Clinic of Hypnotherapy. For anyone struggling with addiction issues, the isolation of lockdown has made this burden harder than ever. “The pandemic has actually been a really busy time with clients needing help with anxiety,” Lydia explains. Whilst others in Soho struggled to stay open or even afloat, Lydia’s clinic has found a way forward both as a business and a service to people navigating their way through uncertain times. “I’ve managed to pivot forward and open our door to a much wider audience through courses including audio ones - so people can enjoy them from the comfort of their own home.” Lydia continues. Her clinic is cosy and functional, sporting a mini podcast studio where she records her meditation courses.

Written by Kai Lutterodt & Ivo Belohoubek Photography by Kamil Nowak

The Government’s definition of health services was extended to mental health, which meant that Lydia could keep the clinic open through the recent lockdown. “We focus on things like anxiety, stress, mental blocks; we look at the conscious and subconscious mind,” Lydia explains her approach to hypnotherapy, “and once we understand the root causes, we can really make important life changes.” Soho is integral to her business growth. “It’s such a wonderful community here! It does feel like home,” Lydia admits to a deep connection with the place. “It’s full of art and upbeat creatives and that inspires me on a day to day basis.” “My biggest takeaway from the past year is without a doubt living in the now and understanding we really don’t know what’s around the corner and nothing is in our control. Loving and supporting those around us is the best antidepressant I know.” she concludes, with a smile. Lydia Johnson specialises in Clinical Hypnotherapy, EFT, Mindfulness and Meditation. Book your free 20 minute session, visit: MY SOHO TIMES




Written by Kai Lutterodt Photography by Kamil Nowak

Positive Vibes Only

Drazzy's One Love Drazzy has a definite presence about him. As he opens his car door to step out onto Soho Square, I’m immediately met with a huge grin. This is familiar territory for the BritishGhanaian Hip-Hop rapper who has a history in Soho from organising music events, to, of course, attending my house parties... It's useful having a family member with a musical gene. It took the lockdown to shake up and disrupt Drazzy's silence on the music scene. "Prior to lockdown I wasn't really doing much new music. Then lockdown happened, I had some free time, and I thought, 'you know what, let me buy myself a home studio'. So I started recording..." And he's been on a roll ever since. Drazzy released an EP, an album and his most recent single, One Love - all available on streaming platforms. He also contracted COVID-19, and during his recovery selfisolating at home in bed, needed an outlet to express how he felt. "I just felt a certain way, and I couldn't express exactly how because I felt weak, I was drained. So I just started writing... before I knew it I'd written the verses for One Love, and found the right beats. I rapped the lyrics to the beat and it fit like a glove." Music has no boundaries. And neither does Drazzy when it comes to who he'll work with. Linking up with US-based producer Bliss to produce One Love, Drazzy says of his motivation to get the single out; "I was so passionate about

the song, that the second COVID-19 was out of my system and I got the a all-clear, I booked a videographer and shot the video asap." As well as writing and creating his own music Drazzy is also an accomplished video editor. "I enjoy editing - I edit a lot of my music videos... It just felt good to be back behind the creative wheel again, once I recovered. But I have to add - guys, do not muck about when it comes to COVID. Be serious about wearing PPE, social distancing those of us reading this are the lucky ones. A lot of people are suffering from this. Look after yourselves - and those around you." And his takeaways from the past year aren't a miss. "What I've learnt is to be self-sufficient. If not for furlough a lot of people would be out of work, people can lose businesses. So it's made me determined to be efficient. I bought myself a home studio, started doing everything from home - which saved me a lot of money coz usually I hire studios. I can wake up at 4am in the morning and record an entire song..." Drazzy is no stranger to having an online presence. However the events of the year have reiterated how important the digital-sphere is. "It's made me force my energies towards the online side of running a business. You never know when things might go flat if you're not making all the right moves now to have an online presence.” ‘One Love’ is available on Spotify, YouTube, and all streaming platforms. Follow Drazzy for updates @thedrazzyshow MY SOHO TIMES




The Takeaway Menu with The Golden Touch

Mr Z - Luxury Sandwiches Establishing a new enterprise at any time is a daunting challenge. But putting yourself out there during a global pandemic, especially in the near extinct hospitality industry of the last twelve months could be considered either crazy - or borderline genius. The two could be seen to be mutually exclusive. They can also pave the way to success. Andrea Zagatti, aka “Mr Z”, is a firebrand chef-cum-entrepeneur from the land of fast cars and slow food, Emilia Romagna. His mission? To reinvent the crusty sandwich wheel right here in London. No small task. Serving time in some of the world’s finest kitchens under luminaries such as Massimo Bottura, Andrea decided to fly the high pressure nest of elite professional cuisine and step out from the shadows to form his own luxurious bread-based venture in the capital. Taking inspiration from other entrepreneurs who’ve defied the pandemic and founded their own concerns, Mr Z decided that a time of crisis was the perfect opportunity to be both proactive and creative. Enter Mr Z’s Luxury Sandwiches.

Written by William P. Hanley Photography by Kamil Nowak

Andrea defines luxury as “a concept, combining the best ingredients and craftsmanship, whilst having respect for every single detail of the materials to elevate it to a higher level”. If you think about it for a second, why not apply that logic to the humble sandwich? Not only is his idea original, but also heading in the right direction as far as the gastronomic zeitgeist goes. If the new “Roaring Twenties” are about to dawn, demand for the best of the best is surely going to skyrocket - and the expectation that this should be available to us. Our national mindset is already beginning to focus more on sourcing the finest British ingredients in our everyday lives. What better way to consolidate all the good things we have right on our doorstep than to combine them into one delectable package - not the humble, but the luxury sandwich? Looks like a stroke of genius if current demand is anything to go by. Mine’s a Poseidon - with extra caviar, obviously. Doesn’t come cheap but that’s the price you pay for luxury. |@mrz.luxurysandwiches MY SOHO TIMES




Have Your Cake and Eat It

Raw LaLa

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. That could be the motto of Raw Lala, the raw treats business trying to prove you can get your cake and eat it - gluten free and plant based. “With only few ingredients you can make really good cakes and we only use dates to sweeten our cakes,” founder Rachel Pam shares her secrets with us. Sourcing locally, using UK based packaging suppliers and making their own almond and hazelnut milk are just some of the ways Raw Lala is trying to stay true to their philosophy that good food is a gift from the earth. Mushrooms are another not-so-secret ingredient and if you have never heard of a shroom latte, now you know where to go to try one. “Chaga mushroom, for example, helps release the caffeine slowly to your body and is amazing for your immune system,” explains Rachel. And the variety of treats to pair with your coffee don't go unnoticed on display; from raw cheese cake in various flavours including key lime pie and peanut butter & chocolate to cinnamon rolls, and bliss balls (the strawberry n' cream ball is pure bliss!)... all raw and plant-based of course! After a stint in a few plant based kitchens, Rachel launched three years ago. Raw Lala is a marriage of her love of cakes and keen interest in nutrition (Rachel is celiac).

Written by Kai Lutterodt & Ivo Belohoubek Photography by Kamil Nowak

It was a coffee shop owner she was supplying who encouraged Rachel to start a company. “Everything started really naturally!” she explains the genesis of Raw Lala. As well as running a shop in Hackney with her business partner, a leap of faith last December landed her in popup space amongst the few remaining bookshops lining Charing Cross Road. Opening a day just before the third lockdown was announced, luckily she could continue in a COVID safe way with takeaway as a popup, with old literature as the backdrop. “We love the atmosphere with the books and the plants and we decided to make it permanent after the lockdown,” she shares her plans. “The Soho and Covent Garden people are the most incredible customers.” Her plans now include post lockdown seating area and even a small superfood store inside. Rachel's biggest takeaway? “You cannot control everything, just go with the flow” she pauses to think about the lessons from the pandemic, “and you shouldn’t be scared to make mistakes.” 60 Charing Cross Rd, Covent Garden, WC2H 0BU | @rawlala MY SOHO TIMES




The Pivot From Fine Dining to Award-Winning Takeaway at There have been so many stories detailing the lengths to which the hospitality business has had to go to adapt over the past year - even so it’s not very often you come across a restaurant with a Michelin Starred Chef successfully pivoting from fine dining in Mayfair to takeaway in and around the M25.

Kanishka Where there’s a will, there’s a way for bespoke heritage dishes from India’s North East to be delivered to your door all around London.

Such an enterprise is Kanishka, located on Maddox Street and helmed by award-winning Atul Kocchar, the first chef to be awarded a prized Michelin Star for Indian cuisine and familiar to many from numerous TV appearances.

“We had to investigate how to use heat insulated bags to ensure food quality doesn't deteriorate over the journey, so we did tests and trials to make sure, but it genuinely does work.” Natasha told us. So much so, that earlier this year Kanishka won the Curry Award for restaurant of the year for best Takeaway and best restaurant in the pandemic.

Along with Commercial Director Natasha Naik and Managing Director Tina English, the whole of Team Kanishka, usually run off their feet, last year found themselves in the midst of an eerie silence.

Just goes to show it takes a couple of women in the workplace to adapt and survive in record time. So what are their takeaways after 12 months of innovation and upheaval?

Tina recollects when lockdown was first announced, “We had to shut the restaurant down in three days. I was completely in denial, honestly it took about a month to process.” But a spark of innovation and the guts to rise to the challenge lead to them thinking up a delivery service shortly after.

For Tina, summing up the past year is tricky. But for her it’s built around joy, “It’s just about bringing the love into people’s homes… and with the team here it’s about making every day fun. They are still coming to work during a pandemic; it’s not easy with so many things happening. So it’s just about trying to bring joy to every little moment.”

“All credit to her, Natasha called me and she said, ‘I think we should do delivery’. And I said, ‘Oh goodness you're crazy! We've never done delivery. I don't know if our food will travel. We haven't registered and we haven't even got takeaway boxes!’

In Natasha’s view, it’s even simpler, “People are at the heart of our business and it's been like that ever since we started. It’s all about the team.” ... Bodes well for the future! | @kanishkamayfair MY SOHO TIMES


What is a city but the people?

West End resident, Jessica Toale reflects In March last year the shutters came down on London. The once bustling streets were hushed. Restaurants and shops closed their doors for the foreseeable. And we all ran out of toilet paper. The intervening months saw us lurch from hope to despair as the city opened up and then closed down again. The past year has undoubtedly been a trial. Lives have been lost. Opportunities and freedoms curtailed. We have all experienced unimaginable stress and emotion in coming to terms with what is so often described as the ‘new normal’. But despite this collective trauma, there have been silver linings. The ability to look up and appreciate the awesome architecture of central London without worrying about causing the equivalent of a human traffic jam. We all got healthier. We had time to reflect on the things that were really important to us. And we were able to pursue new or

dormant hobbies. I also gained a renewed sense of community. When the crowds died down and the streets cleared out, I suddenly met people I had lived alongside for years yet never properly knew. I got to know the café owners, the pub landlords, the construction workers and the artists who call this small corner of London home. We have been able to share our worries and anxieties but also make light of the times we are all living through, making the best we can of it. Central London unwittingly became a small village, and as a result I have forged new and lasting friendships. Even though the days have felt like a perpetual Monday morning, I feel lucky to live in such a unique corner of the world. And even luckier to have made the new connections that have breathed life into this unusual time. Words and photography by Jessica Toale WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK


People who LIVE WORK PLAY in Soho tell us their biggest takeaway from the past year & what they're most looking forward to when lockdown is lifted... and Soho re-opens again! Photography by Andrew Leo Written by Kai Lutterodt



ANDREW LEO - PHOTOGRAPHER “At the beginning of lockdown 2 I decided I needed a positive new project to counterbalance a year of Brexit and Covid. On the first day I cycled through Soho and noticed a few interesting and diverse characters and knew this was the place to start. I approached people on their daily walk which had become the highlight of their day. I told them it was to give me a purpose and a reason to talk to strangers from all different backgrounds and walks of life. I’ve loved it and met so many good people who I now see whenever I go there.” Biggest takeaway? “Exercise and being outdoors is king, even if it’s freezing. Just one conversation with someone can make your day better. You don’t need as much money as you thought you did. Don’t judge someone by how they look, you’ll be wrong every time... and sugar is a nightmare.” WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK

STUART S. “For me it’s the friendly atmosphere. Everyone here gets along, whatever culture you’re from, whatever sexual orientation you are and it has really good friendly vibes.”

MARK T. “Bar Italia is the famous coffee shop for Mods. Come down here on a Sunday and it'd be full of mods, full of scooters. For us London Mods this is our manor. We love it. And then obviously have a few drinks in Ronnie Scott’s, and probably down Carnaby Street. Go down to get a new suit. Fred Perry. Gotta be done!”

BRIGITTE DE PRISCO "We’re looking forward to sunshine and embracing without the virus… the community should have a big party!"

ALGERNON ALOYSIUS ST. JOHN - CHOLMONDELEY FETHERSTON HAUGH "I'm looking forward to visiting The French House which is one of the last bits of old Soho remaining,. seeing people again and being able to solve the problems of the world over a couple of halves, or a bottle of cider... or two!" MY SOHO TIMES


ARMIN LOETSCHER AKA SWEETY "I’ve been in Soho for over 60 years, a very long time. Lockdown has affected me very badly. The St Moritz Club has been closed for one year, and the restaurant on and off. We can’t open until May. I want to see that they get the tables outside, alfresco dining. Last year when I applied the council said it’s not possible, but I’ll try again. Would be nice to get four or five tables outside."

CLAUDINE DAVIES “I love all the restaurants! I love My Place around the corner - that's a great hangout. My biggest takeaway? I think it was Chinese... oh symbolically! *laughs* I don't know really. Basically safety, taking care of yourself more. It's been a rough year. Until most of us get the jab, then I'll see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

FLEUR S. "What I love about Soho is how inclusive it is. My sister is gay, and I'm straight - it's always the place we can go together and feel very accepted, have a good time with both mixes of our friendship groups.... Just to have a beer in the sun is actually all I want right now!"

EMERZY CORBIN "The minute I can put my USB in them CDJs and rock a crowd.. it's like religion, like prayer - I’ve missed it for a year and half. Biggest takeaway? The sentence we use is, ‘you’ve got to do your shadow work’. You’ve got to know yourself. Look at your traumas, look at your pain and be alright with the silence.



"I don't have any time to spare for things in the internet world - I need to have face-to-face connections and that's what I've been missing. I'm most looking forward to going to gigs again at my fave venue in the world - 100 Club. Live music is as important as breath is to me to keep me alive. Once it all opens up I shall be back to my normal stewed and tattooed - that's me! If I'm in London I get all my tattoos done at Diamond Jacks Soho. You'll see everything in Summer - they're all be on display!" Biggest takeaway from the past year? "That sometimes it's ok to be on your own and not rely on others... and other times I just want to hug someone so badly! I'm just so grateful to be in Soho. I don't know where else I could have been and felt so happy. We're Soho Strong - that's what I I say!... In fact that's gonna be my next tattoo!"



OTTO G. “I think just meeting up with friends and you know, especially at this time of the year, summer time. Definitely Soho Square is my favourite place the green space, getting to socialise in the open.”

HOLLY S. "I'm looking forward to the buzz of it all being back to normality - the bars being open, seeing all my friends... And when Pride's back! My biggest takeaway I would say is living in the present. Before the pandemic I definitely had a habit looking further into the future and planning my life, when actually it's more important just to live in the moment."

DAMIEN J. "I'm looking for normality - but not the same normality we had before. I think that this lockdown taught us the ways we were living were probably not the best. It's been a year of reflection for everybody... I'm looking forward to progress."

MITCHEL C. "After so many months of lockdown it would be so nice to be out and about meeting friends, enjoying the bars and restaurants… and hopefully the weather’s going to be super amazing! Soho Square is my favourite place, but my favourite bar would be The Yard. My biggest takeaway is realising how precious life is. My family live in Zimbabwe, and I've not been able to see them the whole time. So, you know, it's just made me appreciate life more." WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK


“One thing that I do really miss culturally (and I do need artistic calories every day of the week) is going to the British Museum. My first trip of the day would be into the Member’s Room, cup of coffee, chat with a few members of staff and then go on my way to Soho. I really do miss that and the National Gallery, and the V&A which is probably one of my spiritual homes…all three of them really. But they’ve been taken away. I’ve done a few drawings for painting, but I can’t seem to get into it. I just can’t get into it creatively… It’s really weird. It’s not like me. That’s the only thing that’s been a bit of a downside really, is the fact that I couldn’t get back into my painting. I’m going to start tomorrow - I need that kick!” Biggest takeaway from the past year? “That human nature doesn’t change. People panic and get frightened... it’s a survival instinct.”




The LGBT scene was in trouble even before COVID reared its ugly head. But what will happen to the Soho scene after this catastrophic event? Many a night was spent hopping from Comptons (or Duke of Wellington) for a pint to Admiral Duncan for the drag show, then a drink over at the Village Bar to ogle the go-go dancers... ending up at The Shadow Lounge or Freedom to dance the night away. It was the norm for many of us. Remember Barcode on Archer Street? Topless and sweaty men dancing the night away? And Molly Moggs, with Dame Julie Paid singing and the friendliest crowd in Soho? What about The Astoria - where Madonna, Kylie, Robyn etc. graced the stage - demolished in 2009 for Crossrail - and which, hard to believe, is still under construction! The Shadow Lounge is now Midnight Lounge VIP and bills itself as ‘a little bit naughty’ - but not for the LGBT crowd - it’s a straight strip club. What was naughty was the gay cinema in Walker’s Court - now long gone - along with the gay-friendly bookstores that once lined the notorious alleyway. ‘A place called The Wag, though not exclusively gay, was one of my long gone favorite places in Soho,’ says Roy, a hairstylist. Candy Bar on Carlisle Street was THE place for the ladies but has since closed, replaced by SheBar on Old Compton Street. There was a very discreet entrance that led down to a small venue - which might be a reason it may never open again - along with Admiral Duncan (closed since March 2020), also very narrow, and not good for social distancing. ‘My favorite was the sandwich shop called Old Compton Cafe, and it was really fun to go there at like 3 a.m. after clubbing for a coffee and sandwich before you went home’ says Suzie, a club promoter. Whatever happens to our gay scene is out of our control. But we have loads of memories of the scene that once was, and hopefully Soho will go back to being colorful, vibrant, loud and proud. Written by Tim Baros


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CLEMMIE'S BIG SPRING CLEAN For the Mind, Body, and Home... With it being a year since the first lockdown, most of us have spent more time in our homes than ever before. So we could all probably do with a little (or large) Spring Clean - but why should our homes get all the attention? Surely our bodies and minds deserve a little spruce up too - especially after the year we’ve all had? These are some of my favourite brands that have not only got me through the lockdown(s) but also improved my life in some way.

FOR THE MIND.... THE CALM APP Everyday mindfulness and meditation for stress, anxiety, sleep, focus and health. I recommend the 10 minute daily guided meditation to start your day with a clear mind. The sleep stories are also my go-to for winding down. Try it out for free for the first 7 days.

FOR THE BODY... LIFE DRINK BY TERRANOVA Ideal if you’re in need of an energy boost or are looking to turbo charge your nutrient status. This magical drink is full of incredible ingredients. In fact, I’m yet to find a green powder as comprehensive as this. Terranova are one of my favourite supplement brands and are 100% additive free.

FOR THE HOME... METHOD CLEANING PRODUCTS Chemical free cleaning products that smell amazing. I’m a sucker for these. Their new peach blossom scent is gorgeous.

CBD OIL BY CHILL OUT FRED This oil is top quality and incredible for relieving stress, anxiety and depression as well as reducing inflammation in the body (along with many other health benefits). Different strengths are available; I’ve been using the 2000mg

THE FIVE-MINUTE JOURNAL Journaling has proved to be an incredible stress management tool however, not all of us have time to devote to it. Enter The Five-Minute Journal a journal for people who don't write journals. Just a few minutes a day is a commitment we can all stick to.

SYMPROVE PROBIOTICS Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard of the importance of gut health by now so I had to include a probiotic company on here. Symprove Probiotics is my absolute fave. I do their 12 week course around 2-3 times per year.

YUM & YAY Milled seeds packed full of goodness and essential fattyacids such as Omega 3’s needed hearts, brain and eye health (and more!). Just a spoonful a day is all you need. Tip: sprinkle on yoghurt, porridge, add to your smoothies or make energy balls with them.

DOTERRA ESSENTIAL OILS Purify the air in your home and boost your immune system and mood at the same time with the best quality essential oils out there. My go-to is grapefruit and wild orange. I also put a drop of lemon essential oil in my water every morning to start off the detox process (yes, you can ingest these ones!).

Written by Clementine Pellew-Harvey, Nutrition & Wellness Editor for My London Times

PATCH PLANTS We’ve all gone house-plant crazy this year - and for a good reason. Indoor plants have shown to: Boost your mood, productivity, concentration and creativity. Reduce stress, fatigue, sore throats and colds. Help clean indoor air by absorbing toxins, increasing humidity and producing oxygen.

Patch helps you discover the best plants for your space, delivers them to your door and helps you look after them. Be warned - you might want everything on this website.

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Food & Hospitality editor, Will P. Hanley, gets us ready for eating out again... Soho in my mind has always been the most fascinatingly dynamic, idiosyncratic, innovative and occasionally downright odd hub of wonder in the centre of the West End. This neon-lit volcano of activity all of a sudden went dormant twelve months ago, thanks to this pandemic crisis we find ourselves in. One thing I thought would be an easy task for my debut feature in My Soho Times would be where I’d be making a beeline for as soon as we’re allowed back out to play. Dear reader, this task is so difficult to to succinctly put into a couple of page leaves - and thank goodness for that.

THE SITUATION WE FIND OURSELVES IN... Our beloved hospitality industry has taken such a huge hit over this past year. Even more brutally so, with a ray of hope piercing down onto the streets last summer with what we thought would be the path to recovery, but instead, the plug pulled once again from up above, despite much evidence showing that the hospitality world didn’t cause the spread of this invisible menace. One silver lining is that such initiatives as the pedestrianisation of many of the local streets to expand room for outdoor punters was a common sense measure that should be here to stay, making outdoor dining a permanent feature.. Much has been lost: businesses and livelihoods alike. But now we’ve been promised that soon, we’re going to reach the summit of our struggles and plant the permanent flag of gastronomic freedom firmly into the ground. Thankfully, many have held on. Now, it’s time for us to get back out there and support the long-established stalwarts we know and love, keeping our eyes open to curious new ventures taking a bold step out into the new world of food & drink.

THE EXPEDITION BEGINS... There are certain ground rules for a night out in this postcode. One being that no evening should ever begin without a sufficient aperitivo to restart the engine after an excruciatingly lengthy period of being declared off the road. Bar Termini on Old Compton Street concoct the most well-balanced Negroni one could ever hope to enjoy. No more than two, otherwise one may risk pitstop number one becoming Bar Terminus by an overly eager mistake being made. This is an endurance exercise, not a drag race after all.

Continuing down Old Compton Street, for me it’s impossible to resist the classic charm of Cafe Boheme. Those Negronis would have worked up an appetite for a bowl of perfectly crisp frites and a glass of Pinot Noir, for a moment of peace to watch the world go by in a destination designed by Al Fresco cafe culture of years gone by. One thing I can never resist at any time of day is Dim Sum. Not far away, on the corner of Frith Street and Romilly Street sits BaoziInn. By this point one may already be mildly steaming, so some bamboo baskets of colourful, flavour-packed joy would be a very sensible option. Keep an eye out for the seasonal special dumplings on offer, and a bowl of possibly the best Dan Dan noodles in the capital to share.

LA GRANDE DAME FOR THE GRAND FINALE As we progress on, one of the aforementioned neon lights of Soho illuminates the path to our final destination of the evening. Quo Vadis, Le Grande Dame of Dean Street, provides the perfect venue to settle in for a night of exterior entertainment. Jeremy Lee’s signature smoked eel sandwich is the essential rich, buttery, sharp bite of awakening ecstasy one requires to get comfortable before daring to tackle the absurdly decadent pudding menu. Expect golden profiteroles, jumbo meringues and lashings of cream in nearly every way imaginable, washed down with a chilled glass of Poire Williams to make sure the job is done. As I’ve been penning this piece, so many more cherished gems on these hallowed streets which I love come to mind. Not the bricks and mortar, but most importantly, the people who work so tirelessly to make these institutions what they are and to deliver such wonderful experiences for us day in, day out, against seemingly insurmountable odds. I believe we’re about to enter a new golden age, creating a bright new chapter in the story of Soho. Let’s try and meet these hospitality heroes half way by getting ourselves back out there to support as many as possible by way of as many empty glasses and clean plates as we can possibly manage. WWW.MYSOHOTIMES.CO.UK



A cathedral of a steak house in a former cinema - the large bar area at the front of the premises is one of the top spots in Soho for a pre-prandial libation or a regular Monday afternoon Martini. The Manhattans are world class and perfect for washing down the many offerings on the bar menu. 42-44 Great Windmill St, Soho, W1D 7NB @sophiessoho

LONDON COCKTAIL CLUB Since 2008, the London Cocktail Club has opened in multiple sites across London and beyond. Their all-time greatest hits feature many well-known favourites, curated in their own signature style. For the ultimate money shot, look no further than their ballsy Pornstar Martini. 4 Great Portland St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 8QJ @londoncocktailclub

MURDER INC The bar which pulls no punches, Murder INC offers perhaps the highest quality cocktails for criminally good value, with many coming in at under a tenner. You’ll be brave enough to fight a bull after sinking their take on the Hemingway classic, Death in the Afternoon. 36 Hanway St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1UP @murderinclondon

BAR SWIFT Without doubt one of the very best cocktail dens in the capital. An upstairs/ downstairs setup of first floor mixology featuring all sorts, coupled with a basement stocked with over three hundred whiskies. Now Spring has sprung, try out the Rhubarb & Custard Milk Punch. 12 Old Compton Street, W1D 4TQ @swiftbars

THE VAULT Locked away secretly behind a bookcase on the hallowed ground of Milroy’s on Greek Street, The Vault has carved a niche of its own, serving a modern, varied menu for those who want to imbibe more than whiskey. Go for the dealer's choice here, you can bank on it being fantastic. 3 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4NX @thevault_soho MY SOHO TIMES


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