Bars & Restaurants

The London Transport Strike Forced Me to Visit a Whore House

Soho in London has always been home to whore houses

Soho in London has always been home to whore houses

There is a transport strike on in London which is making it very difficult for me to get to the Savoy for my pre-prandial cocktail.  London Mayor Boris Johnson once said that horses are a better bet these days than London’s trains, but I couldn’t find a horse.  I don’t really understand much about labour unions, but apparently they were put on this earth to go on strike.  It’s the sort of thing than makes the French residents of London nostalgic for the old country.

The ticket counters at London Underground Stations are being closed because nobody uses them anymore.  Apparently going on strike will change commuter’s behaviour – I think that’s how union logic works. Commuters prefer to use contactless Oyster Cards paid for at a machine or over the internet.  This upsets the unionised people selling (or not selling) tickets at said counters.  What do you do if your most advanced life skill is the ability to make change while sitting behind a bullet proof pane of glass?  I tried to engage several ticket counter personnel about their career choice but they were inevitably on a cigarette break.  It must be a lonely job, sitting underground behind glass hoping that someone will talk to you.  Fortunately, Wifi was introduced to underground train stations during the 2012 Olympics, so now ticket sellers can at least post FaceBook updates between cigarette breaks…

So what do you do if you are caught out in the middle of London and can’t get home?  Restaurant workers couldn’t get into work so the eating out options were slim.  Fortunately, Soho’s whore houses were fully operational so I decided to drag a few friends over for a visit.  Mini Me, the Mayflower Princess and the Canuck (gamely sporting a “Save a Horse, Ride a Mountie” button) made it over to the House of Ho on Old Compton Street.

'Ho'rny Devil - Lemongrass Vodka, Vietnamese devil's chilli, fresh coconut on the rim

‘Ho’rny Devil – Lemongrass Vodka, Vietnamese devil’s chilli, fresh coconut on the rim

A woman named Margeaux takes us into a darkened room.  The decor is all polished concrete, grey painted walls, blonde wood slats and granite – a la Hakkasan.  The soundtrack plays Bowie, the Stones and some vintage Michael Jackson.  Nice.  Margeaux broke the ice by explaining that while her name is spelled the French way she is actually from LA.  I thanked her for the insight into her heritage.  We relaxed with cocktails while anticipating the main event; a ‘Ho’rny Devil (Lemongrass vodka, chilli, fresh coconut), a ‘Ho’groni (Campari, gin, bitters), and a Rum Yum Dragon (rum, berries, pomello, passionfruit).  As is the case with most things in a whore house, the cocktails looked better than they tasted.  While there were interesting flavours in each of the drinks, their combination didn’t result in much more than a sweet aftertaste.

Apple smoked pork belly, braised cabbage and egg

Apple smoked pork belly, braised cabbage and egg

The menu states that “we might be called Ho’s but we are, at least, classy ones.  None of the staff have been physically or emotionally abused to bring you food and service today.”  Both the food and the service was exceptional.  The grilled chicken wings in a spicy chilli glaze is not what you might find in Buffalo, but they were wonderful – the chicken marinated and tender.  The smoky aubergine with a warm scallion vinaigrette with scallions and crispy shallots was easily the best dish of the day.  Properly smoky, alternately bitter, soft, crunchy and salty it is the kind of dish that could convert me into a vegetarian. This is seriously inventive Vietnamese food from Bobby Chin, a widely respected New Zealand born chef of Chinese American and Egyptian heritage, author of Vietnamese cookery books and owner of successful restaurants in Hanoi and Saigon.  We skipped the dessert menu, called ‘Happy Endings’ and retired down the road to the tiny but perfectly formed Amorino Gelateria for gelato and coffee.

There is another transport strike scheduled next week.  If you get stuck in Soho I urge you to go ‘Ho’ring.  It is a great evening out and you won’t need a penicillin shot afterwards.

Square Meal

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2017-04-12T12:18:13+00:00 February 6th, 2014|