A Soho Classic Restaurant – 40 Dean Street, Soho:
While there always seem to be new restaurant openings in Soho, a few old favourites just keep going. I’m something of a mix and match diner myself and while I really love trying new venues if I’m looking to catch up with friends I’ll often go back to one of those classics. There’s something comforting in knowing what will be on the menu and what you should order. And, in being able to eat without feeling compelled to share your latest foodie find or one of Soho’s hot tickets like Jason Atherton’s Social Wine and Tapas. What that does mean, of course, is that venues which fall into that category, like 40 Dean Street may not dominate Instagram and Twitter, even though they are enduringly popular with an existing fan base. And yet, this place is perfect in its own way – a classic Italian restaurant in Soho
I was delighted to be invited along to the newly re-opened restaurant though, to see what had changed. It was somehow reassuring to find that everything was much the same as I remembered from when I first went there, some 15 years ago or more. 40 Dean Street serves that kind of honest Italian food that it’s hard to mess with. Perhaps there are a few new additions to the menu, but if there are they certainly haven’t lost the classics.
We started the evening as you should do, with a glass of prosecco. Served in pretty crystal champagne saucers it added to the sense of celebration.
My starter of pan-fried tiger prawns with cherry tomatoes and shellfish sauce with toasted crostini was delicious. Rich with full-bodied shellfish and tomato sauce and resplendent with a generous portion of plump, succulent prawns I wiped the pan clean.
My companion’s Bresaola with wild rocket, shaved Parmesan and truffle oil was pronounced delicious but a little light on the truffle oil. That said, less really is more with truffle oil – too much and you end up with a horrible aftertaste.
I probably shouldn’t have ordered more shellfish for my main course, but I couldn’t resist the idea of homemade fresh lobster ravioli in a shellfish bisque. Utterly delicious, this came with a lighter sauce than the prawns and with large pieces of lobster to complement the pillowy ravioli.
Veal Milanese is such a classic Italian dish. My companion looked quite content with her plateful and left not a scrap on the plate.
This kind of comfort eating really doesn’t need a dessert, but in the interests of research we both went on to enjoy one. For my companion the pretty and lighter Vanilla Pana Cotta with mixed berry compote, which came with the perfect amount of wobble and was light yet creamy, just as it should be.
For me an indulgent homemade Tiramisu which somehow still managed to be feather light. I was particularly impressed that it had real notes of coffee and wasn’t overly sweet. The kind of dish I will remember to keep space for next time I visit – I’d love the recipe for this one!
What I like best about 40 Dean Street is that everything just falls into place. Apart from an extensive a la carte, with most starters around the £5 to £8 mark and mains from £10 to £15, there’s a set course with prices ranging from just under £14 to £20 for three courses, varied depending on the time of day and day of the week. Like a favourite sweater or pair of boots, it’s somewhere I’ll keep coming back to. I do hope people keep discovering this charming, classic Italian restaurant in Soho. But not too many. I don’t want to find that I can’t get a table.
40 Dean Street