Iconic-landmark views. Check. Big screen. Check. Fruit-filled Pimm’s. Check… We’re now deep into the world’s most treasured tennis championships, and if you’re determined to catch a rally or two, we know just the place. Head up to the 6th floor of One New Change (the magical world of queue-free weekend shopping) via the glass lift for a spot of all-day tennis, lush green underfoot, inviting deck chairs, and a Union Jack-framed big screen. This 2-week extravaganza, entitled ‘Great British Summer’ also just happens to be your password to 20% off food (after 5pm on weekdays and for the entire weekend) at Pho St Paul’s restaurant, found within One New Change. So whether it’s pre or post-tennis fuel you’re after, check out this buzzy, Hanoi-style joint for relaxed, trendy and authentic South East Asian dining.
The menu at Pho is a concise one-pager of namesake pho (pronounced ‘fuh’) dishes, salads, starters, noodles and desserts, with a lengthy list of drinks (welcome on a sweltering London day). We punt for house-squeezed, tart lemonade with some prawn crackers to nibble on, and get things going. We sit ‘outside’, immersed within the shopper bustle on communal wooden benches, which are lined with uniformly-placed chopsticks and traditional condiments. Inside there’s a similar buzz, with a flash open kitchen, haywire cables strewn across the ceiling and animated chatter: if we didn’t know any better, we could have stopped for pho in the densely-populated, thrilling streets of Vietnam’s capital.
First arrives a platter of piping-hot squid encased in light, crispy batter, plus a bowl of chilli and salt: cue squeezing of a half lime over the top to create a zesty spiced dipping pot. Doesn’t get much fresher than making it at the table, either. Next we share skewered pork meatballs with light and fragrant lemongrass.
For the main event, we chose a bowl of the signature pho with beef brisket, and the prized 12-hour-prepared stock. Tender, chunky brisket fell apart in a satisfyingly soupy way, all mixed in with liberally-applied condiments, slurp-inducing noodles, spring onions and crunchy beansprouts. Pho’s Vietnamese are the ultimate virtue choice: colourful, crisp and vitamin-packed, we go opt for banana blossom with tender beef, peanuts and star fruit. This gorgeous blend of textures and delicate flavours had summer flavours down to a T.
Tempting fritters and pancakes dominate the dessert menu, but given the sweltering climes outside, it’s a toss-up between tropical-flavoured ice creams and cleansing sorbets. The latter wins, and 2 scoops of strawberry & basil is a perfectly sweet and refreshing end.
Whether it’s for lunchtime pit stop, gap year nostalgia or Wimbledon refuel, Pho St Paul’s is just the ticket. And if you haven’t got tickets for this year’s SW19: well you know just where to head.
Pho St Paul’s
1st Floor, One New Change, London, EC2V 6AG