There are a lot of loud people in the Crown & Two Chairmen pub. When we arrived I wondered where on earth we would sit, and indeed if they even served food. Centrally located on Dean Street in Soho, this rowdy inn has recently been refurbished and is busier than ever. Fighting our way through the crowd, we were led by the multi-tasking barman to a small table at the back as the restaurant area upstairs was booked out for a private party.
What I could see of the interior was warm and cosy, dark traditional colours and comfortable materials. The pub was full of pre-dinner and post-work drinkers, and around eight o’clock the venue began to calm. Although the atmosphere was jovial and pleasant for a friendly catch-up, we found ourselves shouting across the table to be heard by each other, within minutes my throat was sore.
The menu features well-loved pub dishes like fish and chips and burgers, and there are delicious craft beers and a carefully curated wine list to drink your way through. We began to feel more at home once our drinks arrived and we’d decided our dishes from the tempting options. Warmed hummous with bread and vegetables was a healthy and tasty platter to start the meal. The homemade hummous had a coarse texture with a hint of garlic and was particularly nice with the lovely sweet baby carrots. We also tried the Salt and pepper squid with spicy mayonnaise – the seafood pieces were fresh and soft but the coating could have been crispier and warmer.
The staff were extremely friendly throughout our meal, attending to our every need. After energetic gossiping we were ready for our main course. The fish cakes looked a bit sad on the plate, but were well seasoned and carefully cooked. They were served with a punchy lemon crème fraiche, paprika potato wedges and coleslaw. I opted for the 21 day aged rib-eye steak with fries, watercress and peppercorn sauce. It was a good but thin steak, lightly grilled to give a delicious chargrilled woody edge. The peppercorn sauce was very creamy with whole peppercorns adding spice and crunch.
Desserts rotate regularly and we weren’t over-excited with the options. Raspberry and peach crumble with apple sorbet was a strange dish. Presented flat in a bowl with an excess of crumble it was overpoweringly sweet and the sorbet had a slightly fake taste. I think we had bad luck as I’d spied some delicious sounding salted-caramel dishes on the pub’s website prior to visiting.
There is a surplus of pubs in Soho and The Crown & Two Chairmen is a rare venue which pairs a lively ambience and good food. This winning combination would explain why it was so busy when we visited.
More information here: www.thecrownandtwochairmenw1.co.uk