By Anna Bailey
Restaurants and bars in or around train stations haven’t always been seen as ‘go-to' destinations– on the assumption they don’t have to work too hard to attract visitors. But that’s all changed in recent years.
Nowadays there are plenty of venues close to commuter points where a table, or a stool at the bar, have become much sought-over - including The Soak, located at Victoria Station in Central London.
The Soak, takes its name from a food ethos, based around pickling and fermenting key ingredients - a focus very much led by head chef Chris Zachwieja, who previously worked with Michelin-starred Tom Aikens. This very on-trend method has become very fashionable in recent years, thanks to it's unique affect on flavour and the health benefits - it's very good for the gut and brain health. Win, win.
Decor and atmosphere
Open since late April 2019, this super-stylish venue is the perfect setting to enjoy a glamorous cocktail – or, three. And, it ticks all the right boxes when it comes to French / art deco glamour, with high ceilings, large mirrors and glass surfaces, curved booths as well as statement globe lighting.
The incredibly ornate bar is the centrepiece of the room, and the perfect spot to watch the live music sessions. During my visit a saxophonist and singer serenaded the drinkers and diners, but at the weekends you can hit the dance floor as soul, house and disco DJs take over the room.
While looking over the menu, my dinner date and I tucked in an appetiser symbolising the restaurant’s signature style of pickled and fermented foods – a colourful collection of gherkins, thinly sliced candy-coloured radish, cauliflower florets, silver-skin onions and cherry tomatoes, all of which and been boiled and soaked for three days in cider vinegar. Served alongside black olive butter and fresh bread, the refreshing and crunchy mixture was strong in flavour, without being over-powering.
For starters: To share, we ordered the seared Scottish scallop, peas and squid ink – a bright, and colourful dish, full of fresh flavour but with the addition of something else, I couldn’t put my finger on… I was later told it had been sprinkled with garlic and beetroot powder – a great example of how layers of ingredients and are used to create meals bursting with complex, yet subtle flavours. And, we also ordered the slow cooked lamb belly fritters, with black garlic mayonnaise – a decadent twist on a classic starter, that left us fighting over the last one!
For mains: This was followed by North Sea halibut, that was so delicately cooked it literally melted in the mouth – served alongside Wye Valley asparagus, potato and butter sauce. But, for a real taste of what the restaurant does best, order The Soak signature smoked prawn-cod pie, a deliciously creamy and comforting dish, served with a refreshing combination of fermented radish and soft herbs. Where else could you order a plate like that?
For desserts: Keen to try something ‘new’, I ordered a classic rum baba for dessert – a retro 1960s French classic! Drenched in alcohol, the soft bun was served alongside roasted pineapple, crème fraiche and decorated with edible flowers. The perfect treat, if you love boozy desserts that will look fabulous on Instagram, although a bit too heavy for me. But, if you’re sharing a dessert and can only order one thing – don’t miss the Weiss dark chocolate and honeycomb baked Alaska. A Heavenly combination, epecially when followed by the white Negroni cocktail.
Cost and verdict
Expect to pay around £100 - £120+ for a three course meal with wine, but much more with cocktails! For the handy location, brilliant food, beautiful surroundings and lively atmosphere it's great value, and the service was incredible. Highly recommended.
To find out more
The Soak is located at Terminus Place, London, SW1W 0RP.
Book online or call 0207 868 6272.
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