On the very rare occasion that I went into central London, I always used to have my go-to place, Cafe Boheme. With the news that it recently closed for a refurbishment, I was not looking forward to a Friday night wander for food. Soho can get busy, you either have to book or queue. Plus there is the decision making as there are soooo many options. We were more to north end by Carnaby Street, so I thought I would check out my old hood. I used to work around here so went to Bar Red (no longer there), Studio Valbonne (gone), etc. Basically, the area on Kingly Street has been pedestrianised and there are loads of new places, one of which is Dishoom – a fave of mine! But of course, it was packed. Boo! It was time to try something new anyways.
We walked a wee bit and was considering Dehesa, a fantastic tapas place I tried years ago, but to no avail, it would be a queue jobby. We spotted another wee tapas place across Ganton Street, Pix Pintxos Carnaby, so we headed on over. It is small, squashed even, but cosy and cool. You can slip into booths for two, which was our preference, or settle at the high tables for 4 and more. It is counter service, apparently modeled on Pintxo bars of Catalonia and the Basque region. Dotted along the bar are hot and cold tapas filled with Iberian treats. You help yourself, then they count the skewers; £2.25 for a short one, £3.25 for a longer one and present the bill. As with all tapas, mezze, etc, you can rack up a hell of a bill if you are not careful, but this was reasonably priced.
Some of the “skewers” we grabbed were quince-coated chorizo and manchego cheese, spinach and sweet potato tortilla, marinated olives, morcilla, quail egg and piquilo peppers, serrano ham on tomato bread, chilli chicken kebab with mint and coriander yoghurt. There was so much to choose from and it was all very tempting. I didn’t have a dessert but my Dublin visitor tried the churros with chocolate sauce. If you have a sweet tooth, there is also white chocolate pudding with strawberry compote and more. Yum.
Whilst it is “help yourself”, there is still good service. They clear your plates, talk you through the options and deliver your drinks (a nice Catalunya Sauvignon Blanc). They replenish the tapas quickly and for the hot dishes, they walk the room to ensure you enjoy it at optimum temperature.
The only issue is, as it is so small, is when people are queuing and waiting for tables inside. If you are sat by the bar you can hardly move your elbows to eat. It is even worse if someone has long hair, as you get a dip of it on your plate. There is also the “zoo” factor where you are watched like a hawk because you are sitting down eating and they are standing RIGHT next to you wishing they were sitting and eating. That can get a little bit annoying, but busy yourself with stuffing your face and chatting to your companion, and you soon forget.
Pix is not one, but at four different locations, suitably spread out. They have yet to venture into East London, but I see this on the horizon, as I can definitely see one on Bethnal Green Road, in Dalston or Old Spitalfields Market. This is not me being selfish because I live in the area (innocent face), it is just the right fit.
24 Ganton Street
London W1F 7QY
T. 020 7287 3031