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Archive for the ‘Soho’ Category

My interior designer friend, Kylie, tipped me off to this place. She had left London and was curious to how the design turned out. The answer is lovely, sleek and spacious featuring communal long tables, marble and fountains.

I’ve been before, but somehow seem to forget about it amongst all the other bakeries and eateries in Soho. I needed to grab a coffee and jot down some notes last Wednesday when all of a sudden it sprang to mind.

I entered and was confronted by what felt like miles and miles of amazing pastries and cakes, then pizzas, pastas and salads. I was in serious dilemma over what to order. I’m not kidding- it took me a good 10 minutes to decide where to spend my calories.

I think I chose well.

Princi, 135 Wardour Street, London, W1F 0UT
Telephone +44 (0)20 7478 8888,
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 08.00-00.00 Sun 08.30-22.00

Breakfast available — 08.00 to 11.00
Weekends — 08.00 to 12.00
Apperitivo — 17:00 to 19:00

Princi on Urbanspoon

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First I saw a blurb about Yalla Yalla on Time Out. Then Gourmet Chick lists it as a top ten cheap eat in London. The very next week, the Hungry Engineer and her husband are visiting London from Austin. They give me a run down of the top places that they’ve eaten so far in London. They do not shut up about the batata harra at Yalla Yalla.

“We know” says April. “It’s weird to say the best thing we’ve eaten is potatoes but they were so good!”

I resolved to scope this Beirut street food venue out.

Yalla Yalla has two locations near Oxford Street. The one I visited is tucked away in Soho in a street that is more of an alley. To find it I cruised down Brewer, poking my head down every street I passed until I finally saw the yellow Yalla Yalla sign. For the record, Green’s Court is between Lexington and Wardour. It’s not a place that you just bump into while not paying attention.

The small cafe was full with people waiting for takeout and eating in. There were a few full outdoor seats as well. The secret is out.

I slipped into the only small empty table and started contemplating my order.

Busy staff behind the counter

Olives and pickles while I contemplate.

I settled on the lunch special – a wrap (I chose halloumi) with a side of hummus. I added an apple mint ginger lemonade. How can you resist a drink like that?

Apple mint ginger lemonade? yes, please.

Hummus and pita bread

Halloumi wrap

I left completely stuffed. I could have done without the hummus and pita bread.

Seriously affordable.

I returned a few weeks later for another halloumi wrap, this time to go. I waited outside as the order was prepared and took my wrap to devour in the park. I’ve really got to make it back again to try out those potatoes.

Yalla Yalla on Green’s Court is open Monday to Saturday 10am – 11pm and Sunday 10am – 10pm.

 

Yalla Yalla Beirut Street Food on Urbanspoon

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People love Sacred. Time Out recommends it, my coworker recommends it, random stranger on the street recommends it, so I decide to try it.

Sacred plays on it’s name as a place of worship. The barista is set up on a pulpit and the congregation spills out onto the street at it’s Soho location near Carnaby Street. This makes it a very nice place to hang out on a sunny day soaking up the rays or people watching, on your lunch break, or in-between shopping.

A customer approaches the pulpit.

Sacred offers plenty of sandwiches and pastries. It’s run by New Zealanders who sell things like  jelly lolly cake. My experiences at Sacred and the Roastery are causing me to wonder what exactly is the deal with antipodeans and London coffee shops. Two coffee shops in a row- is this a chance thing or are NZ natives really into their coffee hangouts? I think I’m going to have to make a trip to New Zealand to get to the bottom of this. Either that or call up a friend and ask. The former option seems more dramatic and fun.

Scrambled eggs with wholewheat toast.

I had scrambled eggs with feta and spring onion on wholewheat toast and an Americano. This set me back between £8 and £9. Quite a bit for what is basically an egg sandwich and regular coffee. It took about 20 minutes to get my eggs and coffee, even though there weren’t many in the congregation that morning. In their defense, it was early morning so there were probably a lot of unseen to go orders and I think one of the baristas was training. Also, the coffee was very good.

Empty early morning.

Coffee!

Sacred on Urbanspoon

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I don’t have a sweet tooth so I don’t crave more than the occasional cookie or candy. Even when I do indulge, I will usually only have one or two bites. I would say this is a good thing except I tend to crave the fatty savory foods instead. It is more likely for me to dive into a bag of crips (chips) than a bag of biscuits (cookies).

However, while Rachel was in town we developed the wonderful habit of topping off our meals with a treat. I was getting a welcomed crash course in London pastries and sweets. We just finished a meal in Soho when I remembered that Hummingbird Bakery was around the corner. It had been recommended to me so I suggested we go there.

Cakes and treats at Hummingbird Bakery

Hummingbird Bakery makes American style cakes, cupcakes, brownies and pies and even has a gluten free selection of treats. After much deliberation, Rachel chose a red velvet cupcake and I chose the tiramisu.

Tiramisu

All throughout Rachel’s visit we had been sharing food but we both drew the line here. The tiramisu, which is only available on Wednesdays, was so good that I might have involuntarily bitten off someone else’s fingers if they tried to come near it. That is a huge endorsement from a girl born without a sweet tooth. This may have been the best cupcake I have ever had.

Sorry, Mom.

Hummingbird Bakery has locations in South Kensington, Notting Hill and Soho with a Spitalfields location scheduled to open in May of 2011. Check their website for more location details and hours. http://hummingbirdbakery.com/

Hummingbird Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Vantra.

11-13 Soho St

London W1D 3DJ

www.vantra.co.uk/

 

After our experience at Leon, Molly and I decided to add Vantra to our list of places to try.

Vantra is a casual restaurant in Soho that specializes in raw, vegan and gluten-free foods. The cafe is open and inviting with large wooden communal tables and an organic food bar.

“So how does this work?” I asked Molly.

“You can either pick from the foods behind the counter and pay per serving or you can get a takeout container and fill it up completely from another bar yourself and pay per box.” she explained.

“Kind of like Luby’s but healthy and minus the take-out option.” I reasoned.

The take-out self service option starts at £4 for a box and is available Tuesday through Friday. The food bar offers many selections for £1 to £2 per small bowl. In addition, you can grab crackers and dips, dim sum, kale chips and truffles for dessert.

Choices.

After struggling a bit with the process, getting the attention of the staff,  and making our choices, we finally settled down to a table in the back. Some of the items were better than the others, but most were tasty. At £1 or £2 per item, it’s OK if you get something that’s not your favorite. You load up with different curries, vegan stroganoff, vegetables, noodles and salads to try and go for it.

My choices

Molly's choices

mmm... Smoothie.

We decided to try some of the vegan raw truffles. I want to say they were great, but honestly they were just OK.

Raw vegan truffles

I love this concept and am grateful for this option. During my visit it was obvious that there were still some kinks to be worked out, particularly when it came to the staff. Vantra is still new and going through an adolescence phase. I will be back regularly to check on it’s progress.

11-13 Soho St
London W1D 3DJ
Area: Soho
Nearest Transit:

Tottenham Court Road (Central, Northern)

Leicester Square (Northern, Piccadilly)

Oxford Circus (Bakerloo, Central, Victoria)

Hours:

Mon-Sat 12:00 – 23:00

Sun 12:00 – 21:00

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