From the city’s seediest area to a series of chain coffee shops on every corner, Soho has had more lives than a cat. But its latest reincarnation is harking back to its glory - admittedly there’s far fewer sex shops - but the entrepreneurial, independent spirit is back, and in its wake, new restaurants and bars are popping up everywhere. Wild Rice opened this winter on Brewer Street and is the first project from the owners, we went along to see how it’s getting on.
Blue fronted and perfectly cute, Wild Rice is small and slick. Inside, the restaurant is squished into an L-shape by a glass-panelled wall. This opening is just the first chapter of this Brewer Street plot’s story, with a second Thai restaurant, Massaman, planned downstairs. Things are already action-packed when we visit on a Saturday night, with the few wooden tables completely full by the time we leave.
Food is a modern look at traditional Thai, with menus printed fresh dependent on what the kitchen decides to cook up that day. In keeping with the recent trend to nick from your partner’s plate, sharing dishes kick the list off - and from our recommended four, the tofu (£7.20) stood out, with a lick of crisp batter and a splosh of spicy peanut butter sauce. The squid (£8.10), tossed in chillies and spring onions, was cooked excellently, but spoilt by an overzealous shaking of salt, while the MFC fried chicken wings (3 for £10.50) had been left in the fryer a little too long, losing some of the succulence that comes with gnawing meat off the bone.
It's the downstairs namesake that won us over, however. Not even bothering to soak it up with rice, we slurped the lamb massaman curry straight from the bowl, with the slow-cooked meat flaky soft and a tang of cinnamon from the sauce. Cocktails were also excellently done, albeit rather expensive; The E (£15) was a candy-pink punch of tequila, egg white and lemon, much like a sweeter take on a margarita.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Wild Rice is slick, it’s sexy and it’s stylish - all the things a good Soho stalwart needs. However, even these prices seem extravagant for central London, and with some of the dishes not quite being pulled off, there’s still some work to do here.