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The Devonshire review: Soho’s hottest new pub serving first-class food

This old-school-style drinking establishment offers classic British dishes with panache

W1 has a new pub on the scene, The Devonshire. The opening, which has fast become a viral sensation and is currently the most popular dining spot in Soho, is a joint venture between publican extraordinaire Oisin Rogers and Fat Iron founder Charlie Carroll. In the restaurant upstairs, Ashley Palmer-Watts (formerly head chef at the Fat Duck) brings a wood-fired spin to the classic British pub menu. Here’s why The Devonshire is our restaurant of the week.

The Devonshire Soho Review: The Foodie'S Go-To Pub In 2024Pin

Sipping a cold glass of Menetou-Salon from nice stemware in the dining room above the recently reopened The Devonshire pub in Soho, my mother – a common-sense northerner in her eighties – is telling me about a squillion-course immersive dining concept she’d read about in the paper recently. “It’s supposed to be ‘experiential,’” she explains with a roll of the eyes. I have to ask: does she think, for one minute, that the immersive experience she’d have there would have anything on the immersive experience we’d just had, fighting our way through a scrum of bodies and a sea of Guinness and testosterone in the pub downstairs to get to our table? “Definitely not,” she laughs, pleased as punch to be right where she is.

The Devonshire Soho Review: The Foodie'S Go-To Pub In 2024Pin

“I suppose that’s the owner,” whispers mother, discreetly pointing out a chap in a suit, who most assuredly is not wild-haired Irish publican Oisin Rogers, working the room. Rogers isn’t in on our visit, but every other restaurateur in London is. 

The Devonshire Soho Review: The Foodie'S Go-To Pub In 2024Pin

The dining room is a ‘Who’s Who’ of hospitality; the chap in the suit’s an industry mover and shaker; the one whose hand he’s shaking is the top dog at an influential new hospitality company; the one he’s hugging is a society restaurateur; and the one he’s posing for a selfie with, well, that’s the pub’s chef Ashley Palmer-Watts, latterly of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. I don’t mean to make the Devonshire sound like an industry insiders’ club – anyone can get in, in theory – but it’s true that hospitality folk have embraced it. Game recognises game. 

The Devonshire Soho Review: The Foodie'S Go-To Pub In 2024Pin

The tightly packed tables, paper tablecloths, and bentwood chairs have the easy insouciance of a Parisian bistro. It has me thinking of the French House, Andrew Edmunds, Bouchon Racine. The menu here, however, is anglophile. Pea and ham soup is back in vogue, apparently, as are potted shrimps with Melba toast, and scallops with bacon and malt vinegar. The crab salad is a lovely light one, with some sliced apple and bitter leaves for a bit of crunch. Brawn, meanwhile, is surprisingly dainty, served on fingers of toast, with dabs of mustard and pickle for a ‘Big Mac’ kick. I love it. 

The Devonshire Soho Review: The Foodie'S Go-To Pub In 2024Pin

Mother is thrilled with her lamb chops, three of the things, French-trimmed, with seams of golden fat, served plain and unadorned on a round white plate, with not a sprig of parsley surplus to requirements. I said she was no-nonsense. I have a beef cheek and Guinness suet pudding because I don’t eat suet pudding often enough for my liking. 

The Devonshire’s achieves ‘best ever’ status. Maybe I’ve never had a truly great suet pudding before? Because I’m astounded by how light this one is and just how easily I polish it off. We split two sides: buttered leeks and mashed potato, not to be confused with pomme purée, in tasting of actual potato, not a whole pack of butter. To finish, we have chocolate mousse with cherries and a splash of pouring cream. Delightful.

The Devonshire Soho Review: The Foodie'S Go-To Pub In 2024Pin

“I don’t mean to make the Devonshire sound like an industry insiders’ club – anyone can get in, in theory – but it’s true that hospitality folk have embraced it. Game recognises game.”

Prices are comparable with all those beloved restaurants I mentioned above; first courses are £8 to £16; steaks and chops from £24 to £39; sides are a fiver. And there’s a fixed lunch menu too, at a practically northern £29 for three courses, which currently includes prawn cocktail, skirt steak and chips, and sticky toffee pudding (restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin has a phrase for such food: ‘dadcore’ and is it dadcore through and through).

The Devonshire Soho Review: The Foodie'S Go-To Pub In 2024Pin
The Devonshire Soho Review: The Foodie'S Go-To Pub In 2024Pin

While one could dine here cheaply, I see The Devonshire as the kind of place where what you don’t overspend on food, you do overspend on wine. It serves good food that’s worth opening a bottle of vintage Bordeaux or aged Rioja for (of which the list has a few). It’s obvious I’m smitten, isn’t it? So’s my mum. The Devonshire is the kind of experience we crave.

The Devonshire Soho Review: The Foodie'S Go-To Pub In 2024Pin

THE LOWDOWN:

Meal for two (with wine): £160

Signature Dishes: Scallops, Bacon, Malt Vinegar; Langoustines; Roast Rib of Beef

What to drink: Guinness


17 Denman Street, Soho, W1

devonshiresoho.co.uk

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