London’s glitterati regularly converge at No 20. Restaurant at Sanctum Soho Hotel; a sultry hotspot slap bang in the middle of Soho, just off the shopping empires of Oxford Street and Regent Street. Fire orbs blaze outside when we head in, and crushed ruby velvet lines the inside; it’s like an uber-glamorous, fashionable kind of Satan’s den. On first impressions, Sanctum Soho epitomises a rock’n’roll hotel with a sexed up aura; the kind of place where celebrities and singers hang out looking achingly cool.
A hedonistic air prevails as we are shown to our booth; there are semi-erotic prints of hipsters with shiny pink lips, biker leathers and red stilettos lining the walls. The Rolling Stones sound out and the air hangs heavy with perfume, scented like a Madame’s boudoir. Dripping in devilish glamour, the place has a decadent feel with mock-croc, patent burgundy padded chairs, bold pillars and bronzed leather booths, and a smidgen of S&M undertones. It looks like Donatella Versace’s had a field day in here.
Moody candlelight gives us a shadowy look at the menu selection; a mix of good British bistro classics with a transatlantic, modern edge, and after picking out a few highlights, the starters arrive. Hand-dived Dorset scallops were the best of the starters by far; the softness of the scallop contrasted beautifully with the grilled crunch of the Orkney Gold black pudding. Although I’m not a huge a fan of black pudding, this was definitely more than palatable for me. Fennel cream and sundried tomato sounded like an overly rich combination but everything melded together perfectly. Jumbo Indonesian prawns were chargrilled and skewered with lemon, alongside a light garlic aioli and fresh rocket. They were definitely big, juicy numbers and a decent, substantial starter.
Moving on to the mains, grilled Jacob lamb cutlets stole the show as the highlight of the meal by far. The pink, rare meat had a tender sweetness offset by the smoky garlic mash. My dining companion turned and said to me, “this is heaven in hell.” He wasn’t wrong. I would go back to Santcum for these, and they were as good as the beautiful lamb cutlets they serve at Quince in Mayfair. A shiraz was cherry-bound and fruity, a perfect accompaniment to the dish. I think a steak is always a good benchmark dish to test how good the kitchen really is and Sanctum passed the test on this. Aged for 30 days, the Royal Dornoch Estate ribeye steak we ordered had a rich, charred flavour and was served up with watercress and a red wine jus. We could tell this was a top notch steak from the thick cut and the depth of flavour.
After an interlude, we found the choice of desserts on the menu fairly minimal but we were not overly fussed by this stage. Clouds of pale pink strawberry cream sat atop the deconstructed summer fruit Eton Mess, but I was still thinking about the delicious main course when it arrived, so a couple of mouthfuls sufficed for me. Toffee apple crumble tart was a lighter, modern take on the stodgy classic, with crisp pastry and sweet vanilla custard.
We mulled over our thoughts afterwards, and decided that this was a hidden spot worth taking a detour to. Set in two converted Edwardian townhouses, No 20. Restaurant at Sanctum Soho Hotel is what you might call a glammed-up brasserie in a rock-chic boutique hotel. Add to the mix a sought-after roof garden with an al fresco hydro spa, along with a private subterranean cinema, and luxury prevails. This is a place to indulge and dine in decadent fashion.
No 20. Restaurant at Sanctum Soho Hotel
20 Warwick Street, Soho, London, W1B 5NF