B.Y.O.C. is a fantastic concept. Bring Your Own Cocktail for those of you who can’t work it out on your own – essentially you just show up, hand over a bottle of your chosen spirit and spend the evening sipping cocktails made specially for you by the in-house mixologists, all for just £25 per person. Brighton, Covent Garden, Camden and now Soho, this is a night out not to be forgotten (unless you go a little too hard on the liquor). As if that wasn’t amazing enough, the Soho branch has gone one step further and thrown in a sensational ground floor restaurant to enhance the experience beyond your wildest dreams. James Cochran (AKA God as we were calling him last night) has devised a menu so perfect, that you’d be wise to visit just for the food, even if cocktails don’t float your boat. That being said, cocktails don’t hugely float by boat either, but at the launch event last night I was well and truly turned and can assure you I’ll be back with a bottle of Bombay Sapphire in tow to experience the whole thing again, and again (and maybe again).
We started upstairs, sampling oysters and sipping champagne – as you do. It’s dark, its romantic and its cosy. It’s exactly the sort of place you’d take a date if you were out to impress and get intimate over cocktails. The venue has the whole prohibition / speakeasy vibe going on and is one of those places that makes you appreciate London in all its glory.
After a couple of drinks we headed down to the restaurant for dinner, the part of the evening I was most looking forward to – obviously. The restaurant itself totally contrasts the upstairs bar. it’s light and airy and quite laid back, I suppose you could say it lets the food do the talking. And boy does the food talk. We got to choose three small plates from the savoury list and one dessert each. Every single dish sounded beyond incredible but I managed to narrow it down to what I believe were the top three.
Crispy Cauliflower, Ras El Haneout, Onion Raita, Mint & Shallots – this dish was heavenly. I’m a cauliflower fanatic and I’ll always order it when it’s on the menu but this was beyond anything I’ve ever had before and most certainly not just for the vegetarians amongst us.
Braised Short Rib Of Ruby beef, Jerusalem Artichokes, Girolle Marmalade & Smoked Lardo – there are no words. Soft, melt in your mouth, meat that falls apart as you cut it. The flavours in this dish were so enjoyable I actually wanted to cry when it was over.
Crisp Pork Belly, Yoghurt, Purple Sprouting Broccoli & Pine Nuts – I never order pork belly because the fatty bit always grosses me out but something came over me and I couldn’t resist. I also kind of enjoyed the soft fatty bit below the oh so crispy layer of goodness. Weird. The broccoli was tremendous, as was everything else on the plate and although it was my third (not least) favourite, it was still an exquisite dish.
I didn’t order this but I did get to try a forkful of the Cornish Wray Wing, Jersey Royals, Hazelnut, Cured Pork Collar & Samphire – which was of course sublime.
Paxton and Whitfield Cheese – because how else are you supposed to end an evening of fine dining? Absolutely sensational selection of cheeses with crumbly crackers and a fiery chilli chutney. The blue cheese was sickeningly good.
After dinner we headed back upstairs for an evening of cocktails, made bespoke for us by our own personal bartenders, Marvin and Lloyd. They couldn’t have been more attentive, charming or dapper and made the entire experience for us. The creamy peanut butter gin based concoction made by Marvin was without a doubt the best cocktail that’s ever graced my lips. There were espresso martinis, champagne based elderflower delights and god knows what else flying about and it was all amazing. Such a fun evening, so many delicious things and just and overall amazing experience. Highly, highly recommended for after work drinks, birthday nights out, hen do’s, leaving drinks, dates and basically whatever gives you the excuse to get your ass down there for some alcohol fuelled fun.