Why You Should Visit London’s Café Boheme in Soho
London is a city brimming with culinary delights and culture.
Over the past decades, the city has built an explosive food scene, one which beckons even the most discerning eater. From iconic London-y foods, like pies and fish and chips, to more high-brow eats, like Michelin-starred restaurants – The Ledbury in Notting Hill, Petrus (from chef Gordon Ramsay) in Knightsbridge, and Club Gascon in Farringdon –London is a city full of flavor.
One of the most beloved restaurants in London’s Soho neighborhood is Café Boheme, which recently re-opened, following a renovation and refurbishment. It still stands at its original location, where it has existed since 1992. This laid-back restaurant was inspired by – and styled in the nature of – the 19th-century poets who met on Old Compton Street, back in the day. A large, curved bar, small tables, tucked-away corners, and art and photos adorning the wall – it’s hard not to leave feeling a bit inspired. (Or, at the very least, well-fed.)
This French bistro is at, what feels like, the epicenter of Soho culture. You’ll find it at 13 Old Compton Street.
It’s at the Heart of Soho Culture
London’s Soho neighborhood is in the West End of the city, and it’s part of the City of Westminster. It’s a stone’s throw from London’s Chinatown and Covent Garden. These days, Soho is primarily known for its bustling nightlife, clubs, gay bars, restaurants, quirky and colorful shops, theaters, and a general sense of revelry that envelops the area.
Walk around Soho on a Saturday night in summer, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s the kind of party you want to be a part of, and Soho embodies a sensibility that feels so London-y and celebratory. It remains one of my favorite areas in London.
In earlier centuries, Soho was known for being the center of debaucherous deeds, akin to Amsterdam’s Red Light District (or, De Wallen).
Ryan Brown, a classically-trained chef who works in Mayfair, agrees about the ideal location – and appeal – of Soho’s Café Boheme. He told Fat Tire Tours:
“Café Boheme is a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of Soho’s Old Compton Street. It’s small and cozy and has that 1950’s Parisian charm where you can sip a coffee at the bar and grab a pastry from the basket in the morning. If you decide to eat there, the menu is a short collection of some favorite French classics like charcuterie and escargots to pair with an approachably priced bottle from their wine list.”
He continued, “It’s also one of the few locales that boast sidewalk seating if sipping wine and smoking cigarettes while Soho passes you by is more your jam. When the band starts to play, the scene comes alive, and if you close your eyes for a split second, you’d swear you could be tucked away in a corner of Saint-Germain-des-Près in Paris.”
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The Food is Mouth-Wateringly Good
With all the upheaval currently underway in British politics, it’s nice to know that some things stay the same. After Café Boheme’s refurbishment, the restaurant interior had few major changes. And the same goes for the menu, too.
As Chef Brown pointed out, the menu is full of French classics, like cheeses, charcuterie, escargots, and more. At Café Boheme, you’ll find duck rillettes, dill-cured salmon, chilled tomato soup, steak tartare, oysters, Croque Monsieurs, omelets, and a bevy of other dishes you’d expect to find in a tucked-away bistro in Paris, except, of course, this one is in London. Evergreen classics like steak frites and duck confit are on standby as well. Café Boheme offers a Prix Fixe menu served Monday through Friday.
The Cocktails Are on Point
Café Boheme has some pretty phenomenal food, but it draws its fans through its doors in equal measure for its enticing cocktails and wine list. It boasts delicious, original concoctions like the Boheme Spritz (made of St. Germain, Suze, sparkling wine, and grapefruit tonic) and the Bohemian Bramble (Bombay Sapphire, coconut-infused Lillet Blanc, butterfly pea cordial, and citrus).
They also serve up classic drinks like daiquiris, champagne martinis, and gimlets. Suffice to say, you’ll feel like you’ve just stepped into one of Jay Gatsby’s big soirées for the evening as you sip your champagne, with your pinky in the air.
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It’s the Life of the Party and has Live Jazz Music
With all those tasty libations, then, it’s no surprise that “Café B,” as some call it, is a very lively joint in the wee hours of the night, as it is open until 3 am Monday through Saturday. (Yes, 3 am!) It’s the life of the party, and the restaurant features live jazz music every single day. The jazz music wafts out onto the streets of Soho.
It’s the Perfect Location
And those Soho streets provide the perfect locale, too. Café Boheme’s location on Old Compton Street could not be more well-suited for your touristic needs. Perhaps you want a pre-theater bite or a post-theater cocktail? Well, you are in the heart of the West End!
Café Boheme is surrounded by theaters like the vibrant Soho Theatre (great for comedy shows and sketch), Cambridge Theatre (where “Matilda” the musical is currently playing), and it’s across the street from Prince Edward Theatre (where “Aladdin” the musical is currently playing).
Additionally, nearby you’ll find the famous bookstore Foyles (107 Charing Cross) just up the road. There’s also the lovely Soho Square a few blocks north of Café B., if you’d like to sit in a park and watch the hustle and bustle of Londontown pass you by as you sip a latte. And the ever-popular Covent Garden neighborhood is just a short ten-minute walk away.
For a comprehensive and immersive tour into some of London’s most popular areas, like Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, the West End, and South Bank, check out Fat Tire Tours. The Fat Tire guides on tours like the Royal London Bike Tour, the River Thames Bike Tour, and more, will show you an insider’s view of the Big Smoke.
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Important Café Boheme Info
Address: 13 Old Compton Street, Soho, London W1D 5JQ, UK
Hours: Monday to Friday: 8 am – 3 am. Saturday 9 am – 3 am. Sunday 9 am – 12 am.
Phone: +44 20 7734 0623
Reservations: Yes, they take reservations (though they are not required). Visit their website to make a booking.
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