11 Woodstock St, W1C
Inspired by new-style Parisian bistros, this unassuming spot serves up affordable British gastronomy with cool French insouciance.
Almost concealed by Spaghetti Houses and fruit smoothie stalls in the former Woodstock pub at the Mayfair end of Oxford Street. Look out for the Neo Bistro sign in the window, or you’ll walk past.
It’s a culinary coalition comprising Alex Harper, from Fulham’s Michelin-starred pub the Harwood Arms, and Mark Jarvis from Farringdon’s sensational modern dining room Anglo.
There’s a typically-Anglo considered menu, pared back to three items per course, plus a tasting menu for £42 – highly recommended if you want to try a bit of everything. Harper’s love of game shone through on the chalkboard special, though – Anjou pigeon with green strawberries for much-needed zing through a meaty, rich jus – while delicately sliced lamb with smoked eel and smears of turnip was the most ordered dish on the night. Fun, fruity combinations – beetroot and cherry, squid and orange – serve to freshen up the concept and the palate, yet the winner of the night by far was a more traditional crab starter, with courgette and confit lemon.
WHAT’S FOR DESSERT?
Chocolate and malt, or strawberries and cream, or a cheese board. Don’t be fooled by the suspiciously simple titles – these are classically British flavours with haute continental stylings. The strawberries and cream is hefty, fruit sandwiched in between wedges of pastry like a horizontal mille feuille, while the chocolate pud is what all chocolate bars aspire to be – an indulgent oblong ganache. For large appetites and chocolate fiends only.
NEED TO BOOK?
Yes, it’s very small, with barely a dozen tables placed around an open kitchen. Go to neobistro.co.uk or call 020 7499 9427.
More affected rustic than casual gastro, the setting could be cosier. Yet Neo Bistro’s unusual flavours, combined with a clear love of British produce, result in food so intriguing, you’ll be discussing it long after you’ve left.
ONE MORE THING...
Order up a bottle of 2015 Pheasant’s Tears from the wine list, a Georgian white that was almost good enough to make this old bird cry.