The Bargeriet is hidden away on a once little visited street at the back of Covent Garden, between Floral Street and Long Acre. In fact blink and you will miss Rose Street and that would be a tragedy. However tune in to your senses and the smell of fresh baking and cinnamon will lead you to The Bargeriet.
Bargeriet literarily means bakery in Swedish and that is exactly what it is, a Swedish bakery with a tiny cafe. The space is beautifully designed and comfortably seats 8 people; but such is the demand for seats in this hidden gem that most visitors happily squidge together to make room for a couple more people so that everyone has a chance to enjoy the delicacies and perhaps even make a few new friends along the way. Actually this is essentially what it is to “fika” – getting together with your friends to have a coffee and cake. Yes the Swedes take their coffee breaks so seriously that they have a verb for it.
The bakery offers a range of traditional Swedish cakes, biscuits and savoury sandwiches. A stack of freshly baked cinnamon buns has centre place in the window and is steadily refreshed throughout the day. There are mazarin – a sweet almond tart, vanilla hearts – a sweet pastry with a vanilla cream filling, coconut pyramids, chocolate balls and Hallongrottor – raspberry caves, just to name a few of the delicacies on offer. Visit the Bargeriet during Lent and you will have the opportunity to try the Swedish Semlor cake, this is a cardamom-spiced wheat bun filled with almond paste and topped with whipped cream (the description may not do it justice, but the numbers certainly tell a tale – the Swedes get through 40 million of these little cakes a year in the run up to Easter and local newspapers run features comparing and evaluating the Selmor cakes produced by the local bakeries).
Daniel and Sven-Gunnar also bake their own bread and crispbread, which are fantastic and the cafe offers a selection of traditional Swedish open sandwiches such as Swedish meatballs with home-made beetroot salad; smoked salmon, anchovies, onions, eggs and fresh dill; and prawn salad.
Bakers (and owners) Daniel Karlsson and Sven-Gunnar Appelgren earned their stripes working in an impressive list of prestigious restaurants both here and in Sweden before opening the Bargariet. In fact they have the well deserved reputation of being two of the most sought after bakers in the city. With an ever increasing number of cafes and restaurants opting to buy in their food from larger suppliers it is refreshing to find a cafe that bakes on the premise and takes so much pride in everything it does. Not only are Daniel and Sven-Gunnar introducing the British to the delights of Swedish baking and reminding us that there is no substitute for freshly baked goods, they are also encouraging us to break down our natural reserve and “fika”.
20 Rose Street (off Long Acre)
Footnotes and credits: This is an independent review. The author visited as a regular customer and paid for their fika. Image is care of the Bargeriet website.
10 Greek Street is the brainchild of Chef Cameron Emirali and Luke Wilson and it is one of the new generation of restaurants that is putting Soho back on the dining map. Their aim is to create an affordable neighbourhood restaurant in Soho and so they have. The food is exceptionally good, it is keenly priced and there is a wonderfully friendly laid-back feel to the restaurant, which only sits 28 plus 9 around the open kitchen at the end of the room. The décor is monochromatic and follows the current Soho trend of white tiles and exposed kitchen fixtures. The day’s menu is displayed on blackboards hung on the walls around the restaurant. There are ingenious black dining tables with holes in the middle that hold the cutlery, condiments and the wine list thus creating more surface space for the dishes when they arrive. It is clear that the focus is the food; everything else is there to support the main event, the arrival and enjoyment of the dishes.
The food is loosely modern European in style. The menu is short and changes every 7-10 days, as it depends on the availability of the freshest ingredients from their suppliers. The importance of good ingredients shines through in every dish and everything is beautifully presented and deliciously fresh. The wine list is brilliant with an equal offering of interesting wines from the old and new world, all of which seemed very keenly priced. The staff are both knowledgeable and willing to express their opinions and provide useful descriptions about both the food and wine, thus guiding one to the perfect dish and accompanying beverage.
As well as causing a ripple through London’s highly demanding gastronomic scene with their food and wine offerings, Emirali and Wilson have inadvertently caused quite a stir with of their no-bookings policy. If you wish to dine at 10 Greek St you must turn up in person, with your full party of diners in tow and see if there is a table free. If nothing is available when you first arrive they will take a mobile number and give you a call once a table is free. It really is worth the wait, the food is simply too good to miss, and passing time in Soho isn’t really a big deal. Soho offers a plethora of brilliant bars and cafes in which you can pleasantly pass the time whilst you wait for your table. If you are stuck for ideas then The Pillar of Hercules is a couple of doors up, alternatively The Carlisle Arms is pretty much diagonally opposite on Bateman Street, this is a great little boozer and if the weather is dry it’s a fun place to stand outside and people watch.
10 Greek St Soho, London W1D 4DL. www.10greekstreet.com
Footnotes and credits: This is an independent review. The writer has always dined as a regular guest and paid for their meal. Photography has been sourced from the web site via Google images.
Tucked away on a narrow Soho side street you can easily walk past the beautiful Regency townhouse that houses this Michelin starred restaurant. It is discrete and it is elegant, one rings a brass door bell to gain access to the restaurant and as soon as the door is opened one is met with the warmest of welcomes and this sets the tone for the dining experience ahead – it is sophisticated, professional, passionate and refreshingly friendly.
Spread over several floors the restaurant has two restaurant rooms and five private dining rooms. These all white rooms are elegantly decorated and cosy, splashes of colour are introduced through gorgeous floral arrangements and soft furnishings.
The food is modern French and the menu offers a selection of innovative plats rather than the traditional courses and one can select 3, 4 or 5 plats depending on how you feel. Alternatively one can opt for one of the carefully designed tasting menus. Gauthier offers both a traditional tasting menu with meat and fish and a vegetable tasting menu. The latter can be made fully vegetarian on request. The menus are seasonal and the dishes focus on the simplicity of the ingredients and strive to create a balance between flavours, texture and seasonal availability. This spring look forward to inspiring dishes such as Halibut with Purple Artichoke, Fondant Fennel, Confit Tomatoes and Basil Aromatic Jus; or Welsh Lamb – Pink Roasted Loin with Thyme Braised Lamb Shoulder, Herb & Parmesan Celeriac and Lamb Jus; or Green English Asparagus with Sautéed Wild Mushrooms, Poached Duck Egg and Parsley Jus. The cheese and dessert selection are magnificent, as is the wine list. Gautier offers both wine and tea pairing menus to accompany your food and the Gautier Sommeliers, Damian Sanchez Perez and Marco Veronesi are on hand to guide you through their carefully selected wine list should you desire. Whilst the wine list definitely has its roots in the South-West of France there is a masterful selection of other wines from around the world and as with the menu the wine list changes regularly. We chose the wine pairing menu to accompany the vegetable tasting menu and were introduced to a magnificent selection of wine from around the world including France, Portugal, Italy and Uruguay. As one would expect each wine brought out the very best in the delicate dishes of the vegetable tasting menu.
Gauthier has a distinguished pedigree, it is the creation of Alexis Gauthier and Gerard Virolle, both of whom have formidable reputations as remarkable chefs and it is no wonder that Gauthier has won many awards since opening its doors in 2010, including a Michelin Star and three AA rosettes.
Footnotes and credits: This is an independent review and the author booked a table as a regular unknown customer and paid for their meal. Photography is from the Gauthier website.