Andrew Edmunds restaurant

46 Lexington Street London W1F 0LP

A plain black facade and Soho postcode may trigger warning bells but rest assured, this is not another restaurant jumping on the prohibition trend by claiming to be ‘secret’. After 30 years at the top of its game it has built up enough loyal regulars that advertising simply isn’t required. You’ll find elderly characters in long coats and once-famous artists who hark back to the area’s bohemian past, as well as a loyal clique of old-school media types looking to recreate the days of wine-soaked long lunches, back-handers and dictaphones. Like its clientele, this bistro has a down-to-earth and unfussy attitude. Jolly flowers and candles in wine bottles are plonked on rickety tables and the seating is best described as cosy; go with someone you like, you’ll be sitting rather close.

A well-priced lunch menu creates a jovial daytime atmosphere and ensures empty tables are a rarity, while at night, older couples reliving fond memories are a reminder that some restaurants are about more than just the food. Not that Andrew Edmunds is any slouch in that department. Dishes are united by the common themes of tradition and flavour rather than any one style. The menu, handwritten every day, is short, to the point and modestly priced. To start, celeriac soup is a bowl of salty, creamy goodness that costs just £4.50. When in season, game is always a good order here. Quail is imaginatively served with a lick of garlicky aïoli, while suitably rare wild pigeon breast is balanced with a watercress salad. Easily overdone, the calf’s liver is cooked until velvety and matched with parsnips. Desserts evoke boarding school food at its best; wedges of buttery treacle tart are rivalled by comforting sticky toffee pudding.

Needless to say, this is not a kitchen influenced by trends. The site was a wine bar until it was bought by the eponymous Mr Edmunds, who owned the antique print gallery next door, and the excellent wine list is a key factor behind its longevity. Pick from a huge range of well-aged French labels sold at little more than retail price.

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