What to do in Soho: London's day-to-night district
GUEST SPOT: Things to do in Soho this weekend, as selected for Culture Whisper by Michèle Fajtmann of 'From My City'
Cool things to do in Soho
Best Soho cafés
Algerian Coffee Stores, 52 Old Compton Street, London W1D 4PB
Created by an Algerian businessman in 1887, this old-fashioned shop is now owned by an Italian family. The choice of teas and coffees is huge and you can buy all sorts of herbs and flowers to create your own composition. Their selection of chocolate, amaretti, and cantuccini is also great and you can grab a cappuccino on the go.
Bar Italia, 22 Frith Street, London W1D 4RF
Opened in 1950 by the Polledri family, this is the place to go for a late night espresso. They are open from 7am to 5am every day.
Frith Street's Bar Italia has been home to artisan coffee since 1950
For a croissant
Maison Bertaux, 28 Greek Street, London W1D 5DQ
A French patisserie founded in 1871, and currently owned by sisters Michele and Tania Wade. It has a nice vintage atmosphere and is also the home of the The Maison Bertaux Theatre Club. The terrace is a perfect Soho spot on a nice day. Get an almond croissant – it is worth a stop.
For a box of chocolates
Paul A. Young, 143 Wardour Street, London W1F 8WA
The whole range is presented in the middle of the store on a round table. You can ask for a description to the manager who loves to talk about it. New creations are added all the time. The award winner is the salted caramel bonbon.
For a photography exhibition
The Photographers Gallery, 18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW
Situated in a former 1910 warehouse, it is the largest public gallery in London dedicated to photography. It currently shows Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines.
The photographer's gallery on Ramillies St
For tapas with friends
Many small restaurants were opened recently, offering a casual and social atmosphere with authenticity and close interactions with the chefs and staff. The experience is really about sharing. We have listed 3 of the best Soho restaurants:
Polpo, 41 Beak Street, London W1F 9SB
A Venetian bacaro located in a house where the painter Canaletto lived. They don’t take reservations in the evening. It is always full but worth the wait. Try the octopus carpaccio.
Blanchette, 9 D’Arblay Street, London W1F 8DR
Same concept as Polpo but with French food. Simple and fresh ingredients in small portions to share. Try the Confit Duck Leg with Butternut Squash Purée, Hazelnuts, Chili and Star Anise.
Palomar, 34 Rupert Street, London W1D 6DN
Dishes from modern day Jerusalem, inspired by traditions from Southern Spain and North Africa. Since day one, tables have been hard to book – you can try to queue for a seat at the bar. Don’t miss the Kubaneh Yemeni pot baked bread served with tahini & grated tomatoes and the polenta Jerusalem style.
Rupert Street's Mediterranean bar and restaurant Palomar
For the art
Riflemaker, 79 Beak Street, Regent Street, London W1F 9SU
Co-founded by dancer Damtsa and composer Tot Taylor, this gallery is located in an historic gunmaker's workshop built in 1712. This month, they show the work of Wen Wu, whose paintings explore the commercialisation of art production in China.
For an ice cream after the show
Gelupo, 7 Archer Street, London W1D 7AU
Owned by the restaurant Bocca Di Lupo on the same street, they offer an amazing selection of gelati and sorbets. The menu changes everyday with flavours such as Ricotta & Sour Cherry Straciatella or Ricotta Chocolate & Black Pepper.
Experimental Cocktail Club,13A Gerrard Street, W1D 5PS
A bit further into the core of Chinatown. You tell the staff the ingredients you like and they create a custom cocktail for you.
Michèle Fajtmann was born in Belgium and has lived in Brussels, New York, Warsaw and London. She is a lawyer and founder of From My City, a boutique event management and advisory company that creates unique tailor-made networking experiences and events focusing on arts and culture.
‘London is ever-changing,' says Michèle, 'and it is fascinating to explore neighbourhoods that are going through rapid change. We are keen to share our passion for London’s eclectic art scene and urban creativity. As city “curators”, we often get inspired by the unexpected and love to give others the chance to be as excited as we are by these discoveries. Most of our events are guided or animated by creative experts. For details of the discovery tours offered or for any enquiries, go to www.frommycity.com'