Depending on the Londoner you ask, Soho’s “renaissance” has been simmering for anywhere from 20 years (so say the thirtysomething media professionals who frequent it now) to 60 years (so say the jazz artists, writers, and others who pulled it up from the triple-X iniquity in which it spent the first half of the 20th century). But in the past couple of years, the simmer has reached a rolling boil, as some of Britain’s most venerated chefs and savviest restaurateurs have set up shop in a few square blocks of W1. Read on for the cream of the crop.
Wright Brothers Soho Oyster House
The sister establishment to Borough Market’s favored oyster bar opened in November and is a bigger, sleeker, and cannier affair than its sawdusty sibling. It’s spread across multiple levels, with several bars and extensive table seating; subway tiles and brass candlesticks gleam with the patina of expensive design. The menu focuses on fruits de mer and English staples (smoked mackerel; Cornish crab with brown bread; fish pie), which are executed nearly flawlessly. In few places does breaded fried calamari achieve such subtle flavor. Some 30 very affordable wines and a formidable gin selection round out the picture. 13 Kingly St.; 44-20/7434-3611; dinner for two $95.
Chef Alexis Gauthier commandeered this Georgian town-house site (formerly Richard Corrigan’s Lindsay House), laid on the heavy linen and ornate silver in its white, light dining rooms, and opened last spring as a proper, starchy French restaurant, with a Michelin star and a minimum three courses, served in one sitting nightly. But his sublimely fresh meat and produce combine thrillingly, with an emphasis on delightful surf-and-turf pairings: quail is married to smoked eel under a light cèpe sauce, while pearly Dover sole finds depth in a meat-and-citrus jus. 21 Romilly St.; 44-20/7494-3111; dinner for two $112.