Soho is something of a food warren, around each corner you’ll find another array of mouthwatering delights but one street I’d unknowingly ignored was Brewer Street. Tucked away behind Piccadilly Circus, this tight street is overflowing with restaurants stretching along both sides of the road. One of the most revered names on Brewer Street is Randall & Aubin.
Occupying a former butcher’s shop, Randall & Aubin serves up some of the best seafood you’ll find in London. The decor remains almost unchanged in 20 years; with gleaming white tile, shimmering marble topped tables and golden light fittings — you could be forgiven for thinking you had nipped over to Paris on the Eurostar. (The 18th century chandeliers have actually been imported from the French capital.) The menu befits the decor perfectly with a smorgasbord of fresh, seasonal and, where possible, locally sourced food. It’s the seafood that has people returning in their droves, with queues often stretching along the front of the restaurant ogling those inside like kids queuing for candy floss at a fairground.
By day, diners will sip champagne and oysters as Londoners streak up and down Brewer Street. By night, all eyes are peering into Randall & Aubin as disco balls oscillate and drench in the restaurant in a 50s hue — it’s London’s own little slice of La La Land. You can imagine Ryan and Emma enjoying some caviar before bursting into a big musical number, accompanied by the energetic staff.
Randall & Aubin is as accessible to long time fish fans, as it is to those enjoying oysters or caviar for the first time. I had never sampled oysters before my visit, but when the exuberant pair of Rebecca and Sophia heard this they immediately ordered six with all the trimmings. I was encouraged to try one “au naturel” for my first ever oyster…it did not disappoint. It was the freshest mouthful of seafood I’d ever experienced; theres no need to chew, just savour the saltiness from the sea and silky, succulent texture.
Once I’d enjoyed my first, the girls dived in without hesitation, adding lemon and tabasco to utterly transform the experience. I cannot recommend oysters enough now, and there’s nowhere better to enjoy them for the first time than Randall & Aubin. The same can be said of caviar; these black pearls of wondrous complexity are another absolute must try — the small tin we enjoyed was the best caviar I’ve had the pleasure of tasting, even better than what I’d had in Russia! For those who are yet to try caviar, I’ll leave it to Dr. Niles Crane to best describe it, “it’s like being kissed by a lusty mermaid.”
Choosing a main is true a task. There are meat options, but you’re almost duty bound to have something fishy. (On a not so little dishy!) If you’re in for the long haul, look no further than the fruit de mer platter. Rock oysters are accompanied by Atlantic shrimp, clams, whole crab, prawns mussels and a whole host of sumptuous seafood. And if all that isn’t quite enough, there is the option to add 1/2 lobster.
For those wanting a more conservative offering, try the spaghetti marinara or the lemon & crab risotto. The spaghetti was another vehement recommendation from Rebecca and Sophia and it was another triumph. The deeply flavoured and mild heat of the marinara sauce complemented the almost sweet shellfish; it’s another platter in itself featuring prawns, cockles, crab, mussels clams AND squid, they don’t really do small portions at Randall & Aubin.
My choice of the risotto had escaped the girls on their countless previous visits, but after we’d all tried a forkful, it would not be the last time any of us would have it. Creamy, yet light risotto had been bathed in lemon and delightfully seasoned so as not to overwhelm the precious crab meat. Both dishes were stunning in their simplicity and straight out of the top drawer. Washing the fantastic fish down with several glasses of Randall & Aubin’s champagne and Italian Sauvignon, you could easily lose a whole afternoon showered in sparkle from the disco balls, just as we did.
Dynamic duo Ed Baines and Jamie Poulton have accomplished something rare in modern London cuisine with Randall & Aubin. Creating an infectious and nostalgic atmosphere, aided by a team full of courtesy and craic in equal measure, while serving classic seafood to absolute perfection. I challenge you to find a more entertaining and thoroughly satisfying dining experience in the capital.
Randall & Aubin SOHO
14-16 Brewer Street
Tel: +44 (0) 207 278 4447