Last week, quite by chance I ended up eating in restaurants just doors apart from each other and within a day of each other. They made a good comparison, because if I’m ever torn between a couple of restaurants, it’s going to be two nearby.
First up we have Pix on Neal Street in Covent Garden. Pix takes inspiration from the pinchos bars in San Sebastian and Barcelona, where you can meander down street after street, picking up one or two little bites in each bar you stop at, washing it all down with a beer or a lovely glass of red. They’ve encapsulated this relaxed atmosphere and casual eating-approach perfectly, and so it wasn’t long after tucking ourselves into a corner, over a table no larger than a monopoly board, that we hopped up again to go and pick our pix.
I got though almost half a baguette in just my first serving as I couldn’t resist the array of toppings – goats cheese and fig, deliciously rich fois gras and serrano ham. My second round included meat balls and seared tuna, but my VERY favourite was the manchego and honey-covered chorizo, mmmm!
For pudding I had the naughtiest of naughty desserts. It was essentially just cream. Cream and juuuust the right amount of fruit to make it seem healthy. Each morsel that you help yourself too from the bar is speared with a skewer – the size of which equates to its cost. It is a fun and relaxed way to eat, and because it is so small and ‘cosy’ there is a wonderful atmosphere and buzz about the place.
I’d rate Pix 9 out of 10.
Up second, we have Scoff & Banter on Mercer Street (See? Very close indeed). The name set me up to believe it would be a bit of a modern, Jamie’s-Italian-style place, so I wasn’t quite prepared for the vast expanse of dining space inside, all very sleek. Its website said it was relaxed, which is what I was after but I’m not sure that’s exactly how I’d describe it. Nevertheless I enjoyed it.
The menu was mouth-watering, and the food that was served did not disappoint. The service was a little slow, but I really did enjoy the meal. If you’re after good food at a reasonable price, and space to clear your mind while you chat then this is a nice spot.
I’d rate it 6 out of 10, though, because it was lacking vibrancy and character.
If asked which one I’d recommend then it would be Pix – hands down. But, that’s not to say Scoff & Banter won’t suit – especially if you’re with a larger group, or want a little more space to hear yourself think.