The Coach and Horses
29 Greek Street, London W1D 5DH
If you ever get the craving for old fashioned fish and chips, you absolutely have to visit the Coach and Horses pub on Greek Street, in Soho, which is now becoming famous for its “Tofush and Chips” – an amazing dish of deep fried tofu covered with seaweed nori and coated in organic ale batter.
Downstairs the historic pub is quite traditional and has a nice buzzing atmosphere. But when you go upstairs – you have to ask the staff to let you through behind the bar – you’ll find a hidden gem of a place…. 1940s music playing, candles and fresh flowers on each of the cloth-covered tables, and low lighting in keeping with the atmosphere. It’s no wonder it’s called Soho’s Secret Tea Room – indeed cream teas as well as full afternoon teas are served daily and for £17.50 you’ll get a pot of tea for one, a homemade scone with cream and jam, a slice of cake, a fairy cake and a round of sandwiches. While there are always a few vegan options available (including fruit scones), with 48 hours’ notice, a full vegan afternoon tea can be provided.
Though tea is served from 12 noon right to 10 pm, on this occasion we didn’t come for that. My friends and I opted to share a mushroom pate served with mango chutney and crispy slices of bread as a starter, which we all enjoyed. While one of my friends then chose a Courgette, Mushroom and Pumpkin Pie, and the other a Portobello Mushroom Burger, I didn’t think twice – it had to be the Tofush and Chips! Served with tartar sauce, peas and a wedge of lemon, the crispy battered tofu was absolutely delicious with just a hint of seaweed. For me this was better than some of the fish substitutes on the market, which remind me a little too much of the real thing. Completely full after this, I didn’t feel like dessert, though dishes such as Orange Rice Pudding and Fruit Scones, both vegan, certainly looked tempting. My friend’s Apple Upside Down Cake did look nice drizzled with vegan cream.
The waitress was charming and friendly and the service couldn’t be faulted. Leftover food was presented in a hand-labelled box, advising when best to consume by! Our meal for three, including a couple of drinks and service, came to just under £50 – which we felt was reasonable. A full three-course dinner with wine would obviously set one back a bit more. The pub has a sister establishment, The Smithfield Tavern (ironically situated very close to Smithfield meat market at 105 Charterhouse Street, London EC1M 6HR) which apparently does an amazing vegan Sunday roast.
I’d strongly recommend the Coach and Horses, and be sure to eat in the Secret Tea Room rather than the pub downstairs if you go – it has a unique feel and you won’t be disappointed!
Review by Suzanne Barnard