January 14th, 2012
On Friday it was Oli’s birthday, so a big group of us went to see La Soirée at the Roundhouse. On Saturday it was time for a group drink and supper, so we went to the Coach and Horses in Soho, followed by Lorelei for pizzas.
Lorelei has been one of my favourite places in Soho, since I first visited with friends in 1980. It’s an old fashioned Italian coffee bar and pizzeria which hasn’t changed since it opened (probably in the 1950’s or 60’s). I found a comment on the web where a man stated he’d met his girlfriend and future wife there in 1965 and that the place is exactly the same today as it was then (apart from a now missing juke box).
Lorelei is quite compact – I would imagine it can just about seat 35 people if they are all good friends. There are always a couple of sacs of flour by the doorway (the main ingredient in pizza dough) and the tables are made of formica. Just behind the seating area, there’s a small kitchen, hidden behind a beautiful old espresso machine (still in use). There are two quaint toilets, you go down a little corridor by the kitchen and then outside into a yard. There really are very few places like this left in Soho or London.
I shared some very good garlic bread as a pre starter,
then Oli found avocado prawn cocktail on the menu – I had to have one of those too!
I had a San Domenico pizza (anchovies, garlic, mozzarella, oregano, parmesan and tomatoes – I had some extra Italian sausage added to that too) and Lorelei’s matchstick fries. On nights when I don’t fancy pizza, I order the lasagne, which is excellent!
Lorelei might not make the best pizzas in London (though they are better than the pizza chains), but it does make up for that with charm and reasonable prices – it’s BYOB, so two courses can cost as little as £10. There are mini Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s nearby, quite handy for buying wine and beer. The couple who own it are extremely charming and go out of their way for customers. I’ve gone in there late at night and found them sitting reading newspapers, waiting just in case one of the regulars is hungry.
Lorelei is at 21 Bateman Street, Soho, W1D 3AL
We left at about midnight (there seemed to have been rather a lot of empty bottles on our table), just in time for the last hour at Blacks and a chance meeting with Scarlett Johansson.
It’s good to have a restaurant or two like this one “in your back-pocket.” It may not have the best food nor the fanciest decor but you can rely on it to give you a good, reasonably priced meal in a comfortable setting by people who actually appreciate your business. (It’s ridiculous how rare that last bit is becoming.)
That’s very true. At the same time it’s a perfect example of Italian businesses that were throughout Soho in the 1950’s. Sadly when the owners eventually retire, I’m sure it will be turned into an office or bookshop. In London it’s quite a rare pearl.
I remember a very rowdy girls night out in there a few years back with friends! It´s a great place – it´s almost gone full circle to become “retro” again 🙂 Belated birthday greetings to Oli – did you get a glimpse of Scarlett?!
I knew you’d know it 😉 We were all sitting at the same table as Scarlett, in Blacks – she was very friendly.
the san domenico make me hungry 😦
Thanks (I think) – I hope you are close to a good pizzeria 🙂
I love the exterior shot of Lorelei, and Lorelei is the incarnation of so many of the qualities that I look for in a restaurant. So good that you’ve spread the word.
Thanks, I’ve been meaning to do it for a long time – it’s a special place. I couldn’t believe it was still there in 1980, let alone now!
This place looks fantastic!
I love old restaurants, better said, restaurants with history, and this one looks like one of those.
I had to look out the BYOB reference, had no idea what it meant… now I know…
“1.bring your own booze
2.bring your own bottle”
Is funny 😉
Wine is quite expensive in London (especially in bars and restaurants), so BYOB means you can take good wine with you and it’s much cheaper. Restaurants that do BYOB don’t normally sell alcohol, but do charge a small corkage fee 😉
What a coincidence!! Scarlett had been round at ours earlier!
Will Scarlett or Captain Scarlett? 😉
It has closed now. The owner retired in February….
I know, I mentioned that at the bottom of my post – it’s a great shame 😦
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