What: Anglo chef-patron Mark Jarvis and former Harwood Arms head chef Alex Harper have teamed up to open a stripped back restaurant of quiet ambition just off Oxford Street. The latter is the day-to-day chef at the restaurant and has worked with Jarvis to create a menu of simple and modestly priced dishes (the pair, who met at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manior, were cooking side-by-side on our visit). Front of house is overseen by Anglo GM Nick Gilkinson. As the name suggests, Neo Bistro isn’t a big budget affair but competence and a keen attention to detail pervade the operation, evident in everything from the homemade bread to the wine service.
The vibe: It’s an unusual pitch for a small, independently-run restaurant but the positioning makes sense; it’s moments from Bond Street tube and close to the major department stores. Neo Bistro’s immediate surrounds aren’t prepossessing - Woodstock Street is more Oxford Street spill-over than pretty Mayfair mews - but the space itself is attractive. The restaurant is long and thin with an open kitchen at the rear and exposed brick work and contemporary fixtures and fittings.
The menu: Like Anglo, Neo Bistro’s menu is ultra tight. The a la carte lists three starters, three mains and three desserts plus a handful of snacks and sides. Prices are low for the calibre of the team with starters around £10 and mains between £15 and £18. There’s also an evenings-only six-course tasting menu for £42.
Key dishes: The restaurant’s homemade charctuerie is not to be missed with a selection that includes soy-infused cured belly of pork sliced gossamer thin and served with tiny slivers of pickled green almond as well as fiery, squidgy rounds of chorizo, Highlights include potato with spring onion, fresh cheese and herbs; turbot with anchovy sauce; and well-aged Herdwick lamb served alongside a finely sliced turnip and a strip of smoked eel.
And another thing: The restaurant is both named after and inspired by Paris’s neo-bistro movement, AKA bistronomy. It saw - and indeed continues to see - talented young chefs trained in top kitchens throw off the shackles of French haute cuisine and swap stiff dining rooms for hip, stripped back spaces. Think eclectic culinary influences, reasonable prices, table cloth-free dining rooms and funky natural wines. Key practitioners in the field include Iñaki Aizpitarte, Daniel Rose and Greg Marchand.
11 Woodstock Street, London