Gramaphone jazz at Private Eye’s gastro dining room
Marrying the idea of nostalgia inspired gastro dining and the sound of 50s jazz on a gramophone to the cut and thrust of a gritty London boozer may seem as unlikely as London’s rudest landlord turning a Soho pub into one of its most famous, writes Andrew McCorkell.
Both are unfathomable tales lamenting a golden era of public houses while also offering punters a fresh perspective on the soft underbelly of our beleaguered bars.
In these troubled times, and with renewed creativity and magneticism, the dining room at the Coach and Horses sits at the vanguard of our oldest drinking dens, as they set their shoulders to reinvent the wheel that is as at the cornerstone of our British way of life.
And the food is divine.
The kipper p�t� with a soft boiled egg and Melba toast, oxtail consomm� and soft-boiled quail eggs, mushrooms and spinach on puff pastry with Hollandaise are all something to marvel.
Each in their own way elicit mouthwatering and ambrosial sensations on the palette. And, if for a moment you can keep your eyes away from the homeliest beef dripping chips and rib eye steaks, b�arnaise, and autumn greens, don’t miss out on the delicate, delicious confit of duck with bubble and squeak and braised red cabbage
And when it’s all over, and you are draining the last glass of one of the pubs many fine wines and ports, keep some room for walnuts dipped in chocolate and Welsh cheeses with oat biscuits, grapes and chutney.
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This, then, is the room the revered staff from the famed satirical and current affairs magazine Private Eye have lunched for more than 33 years, while luminaries such as Peter O’Toole, Francis Bacon and Jeffrey Bernard have all been regulars at this history steeped tavern.
And it was when Norman Balon retired in 2006 after 62 years as London’s self-proclaimed ‘rudest landlord’ that many, somewhat prematurely, assumed this was a sure signal marking the end of Soho’s pub history. When he was asked for the secret to running a decent pub he said: “I believe that, by and large, you should have people in there that you could talk to at home. I can’t stand bores. I can’t stand people who annoy me.”
Norman was infamous for his own special delivery in telling those who didn’t match his exacting standards of conversation: “Here’s your money. F*** off.” Or “You’re barred. You’re too boring to be in my pub.” Norman’s father Jack acquired the Coach and Horses in 1943 and the pub soon began to attract a motely crew including the political cartoonist Michael Heath who created the comic strip The Regulars which, published in Private Eye, documented the escapades of Norman and pub stalwart Jeffrey Bernard.
Norman was also immortalised in the successful West End play, Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell.
So there you have it: a potted history on why to try lunch or dinner in a secretive room, popular with the theatre crowd, that is tucked away in Greek Street, one of London’s least known and most unforgettable experiences.
For information on the Coach and Horses, 29 Greek Street, Soho, London, W1D 5DH call 020 7437 5920, visit www.coachandhorsessoho.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kipper p�t� with a soft boiled egg and Melba toast �6
Traditional French onion soup �6
Oxtail consomm� �5
Brandied chicken liver p�t� & pear chutney �6
Potted salmon with potato pancakes �7
Wild mushrooms with Madeira cream on toast �7
Soft-boiled quail eggs, mushrooms & spinach on puff pastry with Hollandaise �8
Warm Irish soda bread and farmhouse butter �3
Confit of duck with bubble & squeak & braised red cabbage �11
Sausage & mash with venison sausages, gravy, cranberry compote �11
Wild boar and apricot pie, mash, roast vegetables �12
Fish & chips with beer and yeast battered fresh haddock, tartare sauce, marrow fat
peas, half a fillet �9, whole �13.50
Rib-eye steak & b�arnaise, beef dripping chips & autumn greens �17
Lancashire cheese & onion pie with roast root vegetables �11
Roast chicken & tarragon with bread pudding & fondant potato �15
Walnuts dipped in chocolate �2
Cox apple & hazelnut crumble souffl� (20 min) �7
Welsh cheeses, oat biscuits, grapes and chutney �8
Old fashioned rice pudding with brown sugar �4
Lemon posset with blackberries and apple jam �4