Marie Claire's Digital Content Editor heads below ground to try out Soho's newest gem.
No one was more sad about the closure of iconic Soho venue Madame Jojo’s than Old Tom & English owners Costas Maria Consantinou. Many mourned the loss of the burlesque and caberet club last year, warning that Soho was being gentrified and losing its unique atmosphere and independent feel.
But, brother-sister duo Costas and Maria are helping to stem the tide of corporate chains in their own small, but important, way. Their ‘love affair with food, drink and Soho’ began in their father’s café and was cemented with their wonderful nightspot The Arts Theatre Club, a glamorous Prohibition era inspired drinking den.
Branching out, a few roads away to Wardour Street, Costas and Maria opened reservations-only Old Tom & English in late 2014. Their love of London and, in particular, Soho is clear to see. The exciting menu is filled with vintage cocktails, all served in bespoke glasses, named after our fair capital. There’s the South Side of Oxford Street (gin, sherry, lemon and sugar), The Wardour (gin, lime, sugar syrup, basil and black pepper) and London Spritz (rosehip liqueur, vermouth and Cremant de Bourgogne Brut).
We opted for the Soho Sloe, a deliciously nostalgic-tasting cocktail made of Haymans sloe gin, lemon juice topped with cream soda. Then we veered off track (sorry London) with the Louis Royal, but we didn’t regret it for a second. The mix of Chambord, Cognac infused with sage, thyme and lemon topped with Pol Roger was well worth the treachery.
The elegant, British food menu at Old Tom & English has been designed with sharing in mind and the range of small plates essentially lets you create your own menu. My guest and I picked the failsafe triple-cooked chips, the flavoursome braised gem lettuce with anchovy and garlic, fresh pan fried scallops with red cabbage, pea & mint, goat’s cheese and bacon dust, all finished off with succulent seared rump of lamb, fennel and mint dressing, which we washed down with a very gluggable red wine, Chateau Des Landes, Lusac St Emilion 2011.
So, the food and drink… both great. But where Old Tom & English really stands out from the growing corporate chains spreading out around it, is the decor. Designed by Lee Broom, who is the man responsible for the fabulous 1920s-themed drinking den Nightjar in Shoreditch, Old Tom was inspired by Tom Ford’s A Single Man.
Broom was given carte blanche with the decor and the result is a postmodern take on a chic 1960s living room. It’s all very Don Draper. You enter the bar via a heavy slatted wooden door – once you’ve rung the doorbell – and the feel is that of a private member’s club, but without the poncy exclusivity.
It’s clear a lot of love and thought has gone into Old Tom & English. It’s comfortable and relaxed, elegant but not uptight. Soho is lucky to have it.