Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and for singletons everywhere, it feels like a time to go into hiding. But instead of sitting at home, hopeless and alone, praying you’re described in Rush Hour crush and swiping endlessly for a similarly lonesome soul, you should be out there, free from the tyranny of having to whisper sweet platitudes, share plates and deal with the saga of who’s going to have the last bite. Yes indeed, dinner out on your Jack Jones can actually be a pretty joyful experience. With that in mind, here are 5 IDEAL restaurants to eat solo in Soho.
Solo dining is without doubt best enjoyed sitting on a stool, at a bar, with an open kitchen to keep your eyes busy and a wall of sound keeping your ears entertained. The Barbary, in Neal’s Yard, ticks all of these boxes and then some. The noise is relentless and banter is breezily exchanged between bar staff and customers – companions and strangers alike – as another round of Vermouth shots goes down across the bar.
Yep, you won’t feel lonely here, but that would mean nothing unless the food was good. And trust us, it’s next level good, particularly their freshly grilled naan and dips flecked with Middle Eastern flavours. We’d happily take the burnt chilli pickle home with us for a night of passion.
If you’re looking for an evening more carnivorous than carnal, more meat sweats than hot’n’steamy, more firepit than flames of passion, then Temper Soho is your guy for the night. The dimly lit, below-the-streets basement vibe, with private booths or a stool watching the chefs grill, makes for the perfect blend of inconspicuous and open-arms-welcoming. Which as we know, are the ideal ingredients for great solo dining.
XU *permanently closed*
Xu takes its solo dining very seriously indeed; it has two tables specifically reserved for this purpose, thoughtfully designed for maximum comfort, away from prying eyes but still very much engaging with the room as a whole. There’s also a counter for the more sociable, peacocking type of solo diner, so choose your poison accordingly. The grub is as good as you’d expect from a restaurant in the Bao lineage.
Kiln is amazing. Having to share their superb dry red curry of mackerel or aged lamb skewer is not. Also on the not amazing list; being flushed red in the face on a date after a bravado fuelled mouthful of prik kee noo suan; having glass noodles in your lap (or laap) after an ill judged transition from clay pot to plate; or reeking of fermented fish for the rest of the evening. Instead go alone, and go crazy.
HOPPERS, FRITH STREET/ ST.CHRISTOPER’S PLACE
Hoppers is a compact, confident affair ideal for the solo diner who wants to make friends and meet people. There’s not a lot of elbow room here, and a no booking policy conducive to those dining alone having the best chance of bagging a much sought after seat. The bone marrow varuval is sensual enough to replace any partner for the evening. If you can’t get in on Frith Street, they have a second, larger branch on St. Christopher’s Place.