Tim Firmager dines at Soho’s bar, restaurant and music venue, 100 Wardour St, in search of an ideal Valentine’s Day location.
100 Wardour St is the venue that was previously home to the Marquee Club, known for hosting music acts such as the late David Bowie. It has now been transformed into a glamorous bar, restaurant and live music venue.
As you enter the ground floor, the bar and lounge open up to you, which provides service from lunchtime through to late night cocktails. Descend the staircase – the handrail of which hints at 1920s glamour, to the basement restaurant, which hosts live music five nights a week. This is where we dined one Thursday evening.
The service we received throughout the evening was attentive, although at one point having three staff simultaneously checking the name of the booking was slightly excessive.
The restaurant is laid out with the small stage being the focal point of the room, and the large bar area having a direct view. For those wanting some background music without feeling too much in the limelight, there is ample dining space extending out of direct view of the stage. We loved some of the nods back to the 1920s such as the till point with its many drawers and the statement staircase, contrasting against the more modern design features such as the screens used throughout the venue.
Cocktail and premium spirits and tonics are £12 each, presented on one-page. With a significantly stocked bar you can be sure that if there’s nothing on the menu to tickle your fancy, the barmen will be able to create something to your liking. We sampled the signature 100 (made with Amaretto, lemon juice, egg white and fig) and The Madame (mixed with Ciroc vodka, lemon juice, apple juice adorned with a sprig of fresh mint) – both smooth, well blended and presented.
The a la carte menu is the restaurant is a simple, one page affair, an approach we approve of here at Vada. There are a handful of options for either a hot or a cold starter, main courses with two vegetarian options and a small selection of sides. To start we chose the seared king scallops (£13.50) seared to a golden crust still sumptuously melting inside, paired excellently with sharp cubes of apple, smooth carrot purée, and toasted hazelnuts. The Chicken and Truffle Croquettes (£11.50) once cracked opened revealed an almost moose-like texture of savoury heaven – definitely a serving of food envy for those who didn’t make this choice.
Our main courses were both meat and poultry, one a 10oz sirloin steak (£30) with sautéed potatoes and bacon lardons, a dish that you could easily make at home but somehow is never executed as well as in a restaurant. The other was the roasted duck breast (£22.50) with braised escarole – think somewhere between lettuce and pak choi – piquillo peppers and olives. Still blushing in the middle, this was cooked to perfection. We ate these with sides to green beans and skin-on fries with Bloody Mary ketchup.
Desert was a difficult choice, so naturally we chose two to share and fought over both – the Tropical fruit Pavlova and the warm chocolate mousse with pecans and cranberries (both £7.50). The Pavlova, made with mini meringues and bite-sized pieces of kiwi, dragon fruit, mango, pineapple and apple was quaint, kitsch and colourful all at once. The chocolate mousse was more of an eruption of chocolate underneath a shallow crust, don’t blame us if you need to order a second.
100 Wardour St unquestionably draws on Soho’s spirit of fun and indulgence, with delicious, simple menu, indulgent bar and live music offerings. It is the breed of venue where you want to become a regular where the staff know you by name and you can just hang out after work. Understandable therefore why it is such a popular venue, and booking is recommended.
The live music was marginally too loud to hold a conversation at tables immediately in front of the stage, and the service was occasionally over-zealous but we found nothing lacking in terms of quality, food or style, and rate this venue 4.5 out of 5 – a must-visit venue for anyone wanting dinner in Soho.
For those who have yet to organise a Valentine’s Day dinner date, 100 Wardour St is offering a special menu, priced at £75 per person – a delicious 3-course menu including amuse bouche and sides with musical performance from Refael Mirila Duo, followed by Jeremy Quartet performing a selection of jazz, blues and soul hits.
100 Wardour St is located at 100 Wardour Street, Soho, London, W1F 0TN
For more information and to book, visit 100wardourst.com.