Walking along Wardour street, we almost missed it. An inconspicuous door next to some trendy Soho burger joint, with only small elegant lettering above the handle giving away the name: Old Tom & English. Offering up a mix of modern cocktails and classic British food in stylish surroundings, the Old Tom & English doesn’t need a flashy exterior, it has class. With a champagne cocktail and a barrel-aged gin old fashioned from the drinks menu, we settled down with relish (metaphorically, we didn’t have chutney in our cocktails) to our collection of dishes.
The food arrives as it’s ready, tapas style. The first dish for us was the wonderful British charcuterie, a collection of cured meats – pork, venison and beef, served up with a some fresh bread. Essentially a board full of meat, I find it almost impossible to fault the constituent ingredients of this dish.
The smoked eel salad, featuring bone marrow croquette, apple caramel and pickled red onions was served with a dash of sauce to the side. The presentation was excellent, with an effect that looked like little trumpets sticking out from the bed of eel and salad, as if to herald the arrival of the best (although admittedly only) eel I’ve ever tasted.
Next up was the 63 degree egg and purple broccoli, with Jerusalem artichoke and Marmite butter. The egg came in it’s own little pan, while the broccoli face-palmed the Marmite butter, firmly rooting itself in the ‘love’ category. The egg was soft, runny, warm, and a delight, combining well with its veggie surroundings.
The pan-fried king scallops came with crispy chicken skin, pea & mint puree and citrus curd. The fleshy scallops were ready to soak up their surroundings. The pea & mint puree was served up in a hearty enough portion to allay any rationing fears we may have had, and was generously spread across the scallops to maximise the flavour.
From the meat menu, we opted for one of the specials – rolled neck of lamb served with crushed potatoes and spinach. The lamb fell apart at the first tentative prod from my fork, and was full of wonderful texture, especially eaten with the crushed potatoes underneath.
The slow smoked guinea fowl was also expertly cooked along with its anchovy mayo dressing. Quick to come off the bone, and with wonderfully crispy skin, the fowl was a game winner.
After such a rich array of dishes, you could easily imagine being ready to call it a wonderful evening by this point. However, the dessert menu beckoned, and with it two more delights. The lemon & thyme baby doughnuts with chocolate sauce and pistachio crumble were irresistible. The sharp lemon counteracted the sweetness of the doughnuts in a way that made them far more than the sum of their parts.
The rice pudding ice cream with almond crumble, cinnamon and salted caramel was also epic. I’m always willing to try new ice creams, but I didn’t fully understand how you could make one from rice pudding. I still don’t, but I do know I love it.
Heading back out onto the mean streets of Soho, we had some time to reflect on the experience. Old Tom & English offers contemporary chic and modern food, all washed down with old-school cocktails. Who doesn’t want that?
Old Tom & English
187b Wardour Street, London, W1F 8ZB