“Bistro 1”:http://bistro1.co.uk/ boldly claims on its website to be “the best cheap eat restaurant in central London”. Would we agree? For a girlie lunch for two, our original choice was Patara, an upmarket Thai in Soho’s Greek Street, but we found it closed due to a power cut.
Looking around we spotted what was to us, the familiar rather garish orange and green façade of a Bistro 1 on the adjacent Frith Street. It was hot, we were tired and as we’d been to the Southampton Row branch (now closed) many times with work events, it seemed ideal.
At 1.30pm, there were only a couple of other diners on the ground floor (there’s also a downstairs and a few pavement tables). The mainly Turkish/Mediterranean “menu”:http://bistro1.co.uk/menus/bistro1-restaurant-lunch-menu.pdf is extensive and I defy anyone not to find food to salivate over.
We both chose the mixed mezze to start not because we’re vegetarian, but because we love hummus, falafel, tzatsiki, kisir, dolma and cheese borek. The only part we didn’t recognise was the kisir but when it was described as Turkish tabbouleh we knew it was a cous cous salad. It was fresh and quite a plateful (although cheap they do not compromise on portions). In fact, it was so delicious, and as the hot weather had affected my appetite, I could easily have stuck with a starter. However, onto our mains: Mediterranean Chicken, served with mixed vegetables in a tomato and garlic sauce and for me, basil pancake filled with goat’s cheese, mushrooms and creamed Spinach. Both came with rice and salad. My pancake had lots of filling but what really made it, was a rustic, very spicy chilli sauce served directly from the pan it was cooked in. Some may not approve, but I thought it added a homely touch.
The service was good (efficient, friendly and chatty) and they were happy for us to linger and chat over our wine. Whilst the wooden tables and chairs are pretty basic, the many brightly coloured middle eastern lights are simply stunning (probably more so when it’s dark outside).
So yes the food was good, but when I tell you our two course lunch was £9.90 each and a bottle of decent Sauvignon Blanc was £16.95, you’ll agree it probably is able to claim it’s the best cheap eat in Central London.
In the evening, a two course “dinner”:http://bistro1.co.uk/menus/bistro1-restaurant-dinner-menu.pdf is £14.90 with three are £16.90 but it’s still good value and due to its central location, it’s ideal for a pre-theatre meal (although beware the lavatories are in he basement).