Home Food & DrinkRestaurants Stars Restaurant and Bar at Sohoplace, a rather decent pre-theatre venue

Stars Restaurant and Bar at Sohoplace, a rather decent pre-theatre venue

by Neil Davey
Stars

The Soho Place development – sorry, the “@sohoplace” development – above Tottenham Court Road Station is one of several good things to come out of the Crossrail / Elizabeth Line. There’s the Elizabeth Line for one thing, making it easier to reach Heathrow, ExCel and, best of all, Reading, home to the brilliant Clays Hyderabadi. There’s the brand new, shiny theatre. There’s that impressive, regularly changing digital art space that’s made several minutes vanish while making my way home from Soho to North London. And there’s Stars – sorry “stars” – a new “contemporary international” restaurant and bar space, where head chef Constantin Apostu – formerly of The Standard – is focusing on fine British and European produce to thoroughly decent effect.

Constantine Head Chef ABD 6058

If “decent” sounds like damning with faint praise, it’s really not meant to. “Decent” is a word that more places should aspire to, frankly. Apostu’s menu isn’t necessarily big, or clever, or envelope-pushing. It’s well executed versions of solid, crowd-pleasing dishes, made with some excellent ingredients. Sure there are moments of cheffy flair in the individual elements – soy emulsions, nduja mascarpone, aubergine croutons to name but three – and some of the assemblage – the nduja mascarpone, for example, comes as the middle smear on a cured, smoked mackerel crumpet – but, for the most part, this is a list of familiar dishes and ingredients that will be recognisable to most people at, by today’s standards at least, very reasonable prices, whether a la carte or, particularly, a set menu offering two courses for £20, and three for £25.

Burrata ABD 6078So, back to those ingredients. Stand out starter (well, technically, “small plate”) is the English burrata, marinated tomatoes, miso and smoked oil. It’s a dish that lives or dies on the quality of the burrata and, if you’ll excuse the cheese pun, it’s a cracker. Other dishes, such as the mushroom arancini, piquillo ketchup and beetroot-cured salmon, pickles, capers and rye bread, are more than acceptable, and do what they say on the tin. Again, if that sounds like more faint praise, it’s not meant to. They’re decent. Predictably, enjoyably decent.

Ravioli Food Soho 082

Large plates continue the “if it ain’t broke…” notion. Trout. Pork Belly. Lamb cutlets. Grilled bass. A cheeseburger. Ribeye. Truffle and burrata tortelloni. My chicken schnitzel is… well, decent. Generous, well cooked, rich, tasty, neatly crispy-coated. It does exactly what a schnitzel is meant to do. The accompanying slaw – with cayenne mayo – and grilled lemon kick it up a level, the fries are crisp and hot and, basically, it’s as good a way of spending £16 (plus £6 for the chips) as any.

Dessert is a “brilliant Basque cheesecake” which is possibly a slight exaggeration – there are better in London – but it’s perfectly… yes, sorry, it’s that word again. It’s decent. It’s all thoroughly decent. If we scored things with marks out of five, we’d be slapping a comfortable three stars on it here and strongly suggesting you go.

Burger DSF0753

Would you pick stars as your favourite restaurant in London? Doubtful – unless someone proposes to you there, I’m not sure it would register in that manner. But is it a thoroughly enjoyable, friendly, dependable restaurant where you’ll eat very well for a remarkably acceptable price? Abso-blooming-lutely. Trying to arrange a dinner for a group of varied tastes and demands? Entertaining parents before a show? Need a quick break from Oxford Street and need a little more than fast food? Just fancy a workday lunch that isn’t a sandwich? This is the place you’re looking for. Stick stars in your address book. Frankly, it’s the right and proper (and decent) thing to do.

Stars
4 Soho Place
Charing Cross Road
London
W1D 3BG

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