One of my favourite discoveries of the past few years is the small, but amazing, Soho Food Feast which is now in it’s 8th year!
The festival supports the local Soho Parish primary school which is the only school in Soho. Fundraising at the event has helped to build new playgrounds, kitchens, support their healthy eating plans and also general funding to cope with Government cuts. Founded by chef & restaurateur Margot Henderson and healthy eating manager Anita Moir, the school fete has grown into an spectacular weekend of the top chefs, bars, entertainment and restaurants from the area in one highly energetic setting!
The festival works on a token system, you can purchase these in advance with your ticket or on the day. Each token is worth £2 and gets you a small signature dish from the restaurant and can also be used towards drinks – although these are more than 1 token!
The selection of restaurants varies from the Saturday to the Sunday and deciding which day to attend is always a tricky challenge! This year I chose to visit on the Saturday which had a superb list of options.
The restaurants don’t always release what they will be cooking in advance, although it is worth keeping an eye on their social media as some give you sneak peeks! Therefore the first activity is always a lap to see what sounds and looks delicious & to evaluate queues! The restaurants have a limited number of servings and are known to sell out, so my advice would be to start with any dishes you’d be disappointed to miss out on!
For me this was the main course from The Game Bird at the Stafford. A small version of their signature free range chicken kiev with a truffle butter and pomme purée. A fantastic option to start the festival, although quite tricky to eat standing up with only a fork! The flavour in this was delicious, enough but not too much truffle and a perfectly smooth purée.
Steamed buns continue to rise in popularity and the towers at The Bun House were too appealing to resist. I have been eating a slightly more vegetarian food since joining in with National Vegetarian Week in May and opted for a veggie bun. This was full of flavour & lots of mushrooms developing a great savouriness. I would love to learn how to make them!
One of the restaurants I was dying to sample was Kiln, the beautifully small and traditional Thai barbecue hot-spot which I unfortunately haven’t managed to eat at yet! It was also crowned the UK’s best restaurant this week at the National Restaurant Awards! I have never been to any other food festival where you can sample food from restaurants of this calibre for £2 a token!!
The dish available was Isani style Water Buffalo Larb, a speciality meat salad from the Isan region of Thailand. The salad is made of minced meat (water buffalo in this instance) with lots of chilli, herbs and ground toasted rice ensuring it is crunchy, salty, spicy and packed with flavour! The dish was accompanied by cucumber as it was fairly spicy! This was delicious and took me back to the street food in Bangkok in an instant!
The day we attended also happened to be World Gin Day, a celebration I can definitely get behind! Thankfully The Travelling Gin Company were on hand to provide me with a lovely Elderflower Collins.
A sweet treat is always needed to finish off a festival. There are always a few options, but due to the sunshine and small set up, stalls are restricted in what they can offer. I was drawn back to The Game Bird stall where I had spotted a fantastic looking treacle tart with clotted cream earlier. It was a lovely end to the tastings and took me back to my Nanny’s version from my childhood!
Weekend passes are available and the selection for the Sunday included Bone Daddies, Bao, Corazon, Hoppers, Temper and many, many other great options! I have previously visited on Sundays, but with the fantastic line-up available you will not be disappointed either day!
Tickets are available online in advance (£15 for a pass or £25 for a pass with 8 tickets for 1 day). Dogs are welcome, as long as they are controlled and children under 16 can attend for free if with a paying adult. The event is open from 12-6pm both days, with bars and musical entertainment continuing to the end. My first year of attendance, Suggs from Madness ended up doing an impromptu gig as he was attending!
I will definitely be visiting again next year & can’t wait to see what restaurants and dishes will be available whilst continuing to support this fantastic local cause! Who’s coming next year?
Website: Soho Food Feast
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square/Piccadilly Circus – held in St. Anne’s Churchyard Gardens.
Date: June 2018