September 19, 2017

Soho Food & Cocktail Tour Review – Good Food, Cocktails and Info from Eating London

The Twilight Soho Food & Cocktail Tour sponsored by Eating Europe Tours helps visitors learn more about this London area and its population, sample some local cuisine, and enjoy some interesting liquor refreshments along with the food By Burt Davis & Dianne Davis

Photo by Burt Davis

“Foodie Tours” are an interesting and delicious way to learn more about a locale, its residents, and its indigenous gastronomic highlights. Our experience in London on the Twilight Soho Food and Cocktail Tour was one more positive experience for us as we continue to embrace new adventures in foreign countries.

The streets of SoHo were filled with people  Photo by Dianne Davis

We have previously joined Eating Europe Tours during our visits to Rome and Prague. We not only are introduced to great restaurants where we consume local dishes, but we also learn a great deal about both the food and the people from our local guides.

So we scheduled a tour with Eating London which is part the Eating Europe Group. Going on the tour not only filled our stomachs, but also educated us on the history and culture of London’s colorful Soho District.


Eight of us met in front of the Palace Theater in SoHo Photo by Dianne Davis

 

Our diverse group of eight met Bethany, our local guide, at a well defined location in Soho. Bethany explained that we would visit six restaurants as we walked around Soho. She told us that in the 16th century the area was used as a hunting preserve for the wealthy and that Soho was a hunting cry.

 

 

The area has been a convergence spot for the many immigrants moving to England starting in the 18th Century. As Soho became overcrowded in the 1800’s, brothels and other seedy elements filled the area. Theaters and restaurants found a home here in the 1900’s and the music scene came into prominence in the 1950’s. The neighborhood now includes many ethnic groups and the food reflects this diversity.


La Bodgra Negra Mexican Restaurants Photo by Dianne Davis

Our first stop at the La Bodgra Negra Mexican Restaurant, was indicative of the variety of cultures. A Mexican restaurant in London? Yes, one that uses genuine Mexican spices and ingredients in its food preparation.

Street Tacos Photo by Burt Davis

 

Our group sampled fish and pork bellies Mexican street tacos prepared by the Mexican chef who was “imported” to guarantee the authenticity of the dishes. The flavor and texture were spot on. The tacos were complimented by tasty frozen strawberry margaritas.

Locals from near-by buildings enjoyed some late day sunshine Photo by Dianne Davis

Next, we walked through Soho Square park which was filled with folks enjoying a sunny London afternoon. Bethany pointed out the Manor House. This building housed a high class brothel in the 1700’s, but is now an expensive office building. Casanova once lived in the area and Paul McCartney’s business interests are housed nearby. The area around the park is called The French Quarter, since French Huguenots settled here. Bethany pointed out a French Protestant Church as well.

The London Gin Club was on a well traveled corner Photo by Dianne Davis

 

The atmosphere was that of a neighborhood bar Ph0to by Dianne Davis

The London Gin Club was our next stop. This family owned restaurant which opened in 1933 claims to serve the best gin and tonic in London and offers over 210 premium gins. Bethany said that although gin was originally developed by the Dutch in 1682, it quickly became a favorite of the English.

 

The jigger of specialty gin was served with an olive Photo by Burt Davis
The meat pie was tasty Photo by Burt Davis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We drank custom made gin and tonics made with house prepared 7 Dials Gin accompanied by homemade beef pies which were infused with more gin.
Enrique Tomas Exterior Photo by Dianne Davis

It was a short walk to our next stop, Enrique Tomas Spanish Deli and Wine Bar. The restaurant specializes in serving Pata Negra and other high end Iberian ham. It also serves excellent manchego cheese and fine Spanish wines.

We washed down bites of the ham and cheese with an excellent Cabernet Sauvegnon Photo by Dianne Davis

The eatery specializes in gourmet sandwiches Photo by Dianne Davis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Burt Davis

As we walked through Soho, there were many interesting areas. Bethany pointed out the Trident Record Studio. This was once a major high end studio where records by such artists as David Bowie and Elton John were produced. Karl Marx was also a resident there.

 

 

We enjoyed pintxos – Basque style tapas of small dishes at Pix Pintxo during our Eating London Tour Photo by Burt Davis

What a delight watching the server pour Basque wine  Video by Dianne Davis

Next we visited Pix Pintxo, a Basque tapas and wine restaurant. It features a variety of pintxos which are Basque style tapas or small dishes. We were able to make selections from a variety of pintxos such as chicken kabobs with mint and yogurt, four cheese fritters, and pork belly with onion jam and apple compote. These were washed down with white Basque wine.

 

Photo by Dianne Davis

Then on to the largest Chinatown in Europe. This part of Soho contains more than 90 Asian restaurants and has a lurid history. Significantly, our next stop was at an interesting place called Opium. The restaurant is tucked away behind a green door and up four winding flights of stairs. This dimly lit location with small rooms was worth the climb. We sampled some excellent dim-sum dishes and house specialty tea. The tea was infused with an orange liquor, vodka and other flavors.

Bethany described the various dim sum we were offered Photo by Burt Davis
Photo by Burt Davis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Dianne Davis

 

Photo by Dianne Davis

 

As we walked through the streets, we noted an abundance of sex shops and massage parlors as well as many trendy shops and night spots. Bethany mentioned that many of the properties were owned by a Mr Paul Raymond and his company Soho Estates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed a lovely dessert to cap off the tasting part of the tour
Photo by Dianne Davis

 

 

 

 

Basement Sate, a French owned restaurant was our final tasting location. This eatery serves only desserts and cocktails and further illustrates the diversity of residents and restaurants in Soho. The upscale décor put us in the mood for the incredibly chocolate praline accompanied by their tequila based Espumoso cocktail. A great finish to our eating and drinking.

 

 

 

We might have stood a long time trying to understand this wall and all of the messages it conveyed, but Bethany walked us through it explaining the significance. Photo by Dianne Davis

Although we were done with the tasting of food and beverages, there was one more stop. Bethany led us to a wall painting which pictured the history and diversity of Soho. She summarized the spots we had visited, the sights we had seen, the food we consumed and the liquid refreshments that we swallowed. This Eating London Tour was much more than a food sampling. It gave us a chance to learn more about a unique part of this great city of London. We will certainly return to Soho on our next visit to London.

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