Last week, my friends and I went to a launch event for the new BYOC in Soho. BYOC is ‘Bring Your Own Cocktail’, so you can bring along a bottle and the bar staff will mix you something. It aims to capture the spirit of American bars in the twenties, when prohibition led to the birth of the speakeasy. They ‘strive to deliver everything that was great about the speakeasy without the danger of being busted by the coppers at any moment’!
The evening started in the bar on the first floor (there is another on the second floor) with champagne and oysters if you fancied them. Grace loves them so she and Sarah tried them – they were giant!
If you go for the bar, you would be asked to pay £25 on arrival to cover the cocktail-mixing for the night. Depending on what bottle you bring, this could end up cheaper than your average night out in Soho. (In most bars outside happy hour, the average price of a cocktail is around £10.)
This very dapper-looking man mixed us a mango solero and a lime and lemongrass cocktail. The mango solero had a marshmallow in it, which was an added bonus.
At this point, there were Scotch eggs and chicken as snacks.
I am glad Sarah tried the chicken before me, as she took one bite and immediately reached for the nearest drink. Tip: the red sauce on the chicken that looks like ketchup is seriously, seriously hot. Sarah loves all food, whereas I am only just starting to like spicier food, and it took about ten minutes for her taste buds to go back to normal. I only tasted the tiniest bit of the sauce and it was very, very hot. The chicken was great though! (Another tip: it could have been a placebo effect, but the marshmallow might have helped take the edge off the hot sauce.)
We then got to sample the menu in the restaurant on the ground floor, as BYOC have teamed up with James Cochran, former chef at the two-Michelin-starred Ledbury.
It is pricey, so it is probably a place for a special occasion or one for any dedicated foodie friends. Fortunately, I had brought two of mine! We got to choose four small plates each, which allowed us to taste almost the entire menu.
We had everything from the mackerel to the end (except for the cheese, which they forgot to bring, but we had eaten so much by this point it was probably OK). I am not a massive fan of seafood (just fish and chips), so I left most of that to the other two.
They agreed the smoked salmon was probably the best salmon they have ever had, and enjoyed the mussels but not so much the ray wing. (I can now say I have tried ray wing, which is definitely a new one for me.)
As for the meat dishes, the beef and the pork belly were amazing. Sarah managed to eat most of the beef without us realising, and she was unapologetic.
I am a dessert person, so I was very happy with the four we got to try. There was the chocolate malt parfait; elderflower, strawberries and long pepper meringue (elderflower and strawberries – amazing); raspberries with feuilles de brick; and the rhubarb doughnuts.
Despite being a chocoholic and never normally one to choose meringue, I would probably pick the meringue as the best one. My friend confirmed she was completely full by this point, but just had to have another piece.
It was a brilliant opportunity to get to know BYOC, and experience their foray into the world of food. The staff were brilliant, especially the man in the restaurant who found Sarah a New Zealand Sauvignon. (And then poured the biggest glasses of wine I’ve ever seen.) Photos of the Brighton and Camden branches also look amazing.
Thanks to BYOC, James Cochran and PR&EI for inviting us along. Thank you also to Sarah for the photographs, since I forgot to bring my new camera! Oops!