“ 18 Old Compton Street, Soho, London W1V. Tel: 020 7287 1066. „
The Stockpot is an eating institution in London, its the kind of place where you could be sat next to an aspiring artist, a pensioner whose lived in the centre of London for 60 years or a tourist. It is located amazingly centrally and is a lovely contrast to the chain restaurants and bars surrounding Leicester Square.
Based on Old Compton Street it is well known to Londoners and entices a really interesting clientele from locals, to suits, to foodies, to tourists to the strange kinds of people you only ever meet in Soho.
We visit regularly and it is like nowhere else in London, the menu constantly changes and there are some classy options on their, but a starter costs around £2 and main courses around £5. The food quality is good rather than great and the place itself is very basic, but I think I would be a total snob expecting anything other than a warm atmosphere for the prices we pay.
From Fishcakes to Spaghetti, from Chops to salads or Lasagne, the food is old fashioned favourites and you can get a drink too. Service is friendly and efficient and the whole place has a really nice atmosphere, probably because customers appreciate this place and staff are just nice, so you have none of the attitude on either side which you see in haughty expensive places where staff think their it and customers feel they have paid enough to be rude. This place is relaxed, fun and warm in every sense.
This truly is an excellent London restaurant and one which we all benefit from, it's the kind of quirky, eccentric place which sums up the City, the menu could have been taken from old fashioned cookbooks as it avoids the fanciness of modern food and simply serves up plates of food you would want to eat that fill you up, provide great value and taste good.
I'm giving this place 5 out of 5, as I wouldn't want it not to be in London, it sums up so much for me, like the old pie and mash or fish and chip shops, it's a quintessential part of our culinary history and a great place to get fed in expensive old soho!
Stockpot on Old Compton Street is a venerable London institution, which came to my attention some years ago when I first moved down South. They also have a sister restaurant on Kings Road, where The Chelsea Kitchen also lies, which I believe are also affiliated. My sister, who was by then well ensconced in London life, took me here when I was still looking for a job, as it was cheap, filling food. I came here several times in the mid 90s with my fellow just out of university, moved to the big smoke friends, and it brings back fond memories of big portions and rough house wine. When I first arrived back in the UK from Breda, taking a walk through Soho, my girlfriend and I chanced upon this place, and both exclaimed to each other how we hadn't been there for years, as it was apparently a haunt for her at the time, too. It's amazing what effect nostalgia can have on you (see my music reviews for proof), and so we thought we'd venture in and try it out for old time's sake.
As you walk in, the bar is on the right hand side, and the rest of the restaurant is a mixture of small wooden tables and a huge bench with red leather seating, with the tables arranged around it. Lots of caricature pictures adorn the walls, neatly arranged in identically sized frames.
The restaurant has a very open feel to it, which is slightly at odds with the claustrophobic seating arrangements, as you wedge yourself between the bench and tables. There is plenty of wooden floored space between the tables. An old style till that Arkwright from Open All Hours would have been proud of sits on the side.
We arrived just after the 11.30 opening time and were more or less the first to arrive. I enjoyed watching various characters walk in; the lone dining elderly gentleman, looking very content with his soup and roast beef dinner. Several small groups of elderly people followed, along with a smartly dressed young man dining alone in probably his lunch hour from work. I would surmise that this Soho institution serves anyone after a decent feed up on a budget
The menu is split between simple Italian dishes, English classics and random dishes of the day. Italian dishes on offer are for example Spaghetti Carbonara, pasta shells with chicken and lasagne. Several roast dinner, such as beef, chicken and pork were available. A couple of fish dishes such as cod and chips and salmon were possibilities. Finally several salads and specials could be ordered. All in all the menu was pretty simple, which probably helps to keep the prices down.
Let's be honest here, I didn't expect anything special from this meal other than good value for money.
I ordered a cappuccino to drink, which was nice, frothy and not too bitter. I didn't get a biscuit on the side but then remembered I wasn't in Breda any more. The tea my girlfriend has was OK, a standard mug. There is a selection available for those of you who are particular about their teas.
The scampi was reasonable; the breadcrumb coating thick on the well cooked seafood morsels. A wedge of lemon sat on the side. It was perhaps a tad over crunchy but nevertheless not bad, as was the scampi inside. The tartar sauce was so-so, probably from a huge catering tin. The chips were nice, not greasy all at, nicely crisp and fluffy on the inside. The cabbage was very tasty, not overdone and with a firm, crunchy texture. The carrots were perfectly cooked, soft but not soggy and retaining all of their taste.
My girlfriend went for the tuna fishcake and this was actually delicious. I tried a bit and they weren't chunks but in fact a whizzed-up, smooth paste of a concoction, mixed in with some herbs and very possibly potato. It was lovely, with a delicious taste and melt in the mouth texture. Add to this the huge portion of carrots, lettuce and some tomato and cucumber, along with some chips. This was actually a pretty healthy dish.
For dessert, I had the golden syrup sponge pudding with custard, which I enjoyed very much. The fairly thick custard mopped up the light, sweet sponge and the taste was great. The bread and butter pudding my girlfriend had from the specials menu was tasty, quite light and not stodgy. It was also served with the custard.
The whole meal cost just under £17 which I think is terrific value for money for a 2 course meal.
No problems here, the service was prompt, friendly and polite and well deserving of the tip I left. Note that the bill does not include service.
I would highly recommend this place to anyone looking for cheap, filling and reasonable food right in the heart of tourist London. The added bonus was that the portions we had were laden with tasty, healthy vegetables which somewhat eased our consciences about the fried elements of the meals. It's the kind of place that regular London goers would probably know about, and it's a handy tip to pass on to the uninitiated.
18 Old Compton Street
Telephone : 020 7287 1066
Located in Soho amongst the trendy bars and pricey restaurants is the phenomenally cheap 'Stockpot' (Old Compton Street). Speedy service and friendly staff add to the eating extravaganza, where table wine costs £6 a bottle, and beer under £2 a pint. There are no frills, but the food is delicious. The menu consists of various traditional dishes including shepherds pie, beef stroganoff, fish and chips, and rib-eye steak. Pasta dishes and salads are also plentiful. The starter and dessert options are to-die for, and soft drinks are £1. On my last visit we paid under £20 for two starters (garlic bread and egg mayonnaise) 2 main courses (spaghetti bolognaise and steak and chips) 2 desserts (sticky toffee pudding and cheese and biscuits) 2 soft drinks and a bottle of wine! Ideal for a quick bite when you are shopping, or a relaxing after-work meal with friends. Children are also very welcome.