Neo Bistro: Modern dining (August 2017)

The prefix, ‘neo’ means new. Any restaurant, therefore, which chooses to put this word in its name comes with a certain set of expectations attached. Fortuitously, Neo Bistro deserves such epithet. A recent lunch visit to the second venture from the team behind Farringdon’s Anglo was highly successful, in terms of concept, food and service. The restaurant sits in a former pub, in an area which could generously be described as North Mayfair, or less charitably, as just off Oxford Street. Somehow it works – metaphorically sticking its finger up at the Mayfair fine dining scene, but providing a considerably better option than the almost-adjacent Angus Steakhouse. Inside, the restaurant is all exposed brick, strip lighting and fashionable art work. So far, so very predictable, but then there are also some features from the former pub preserved (such as the stained-glass windows and perhaps some of the seating), a nice touch. In terms of food, the emphasis is on simplicity – no tyranny of choice here, with just three starters and three mains from which to choose, as well as a couple of daily specials. But, everything my comrade and I sampled was superb, both in terms of presentation and execution. The Cornish crab salad with courgette was delicate yet full of flavour, and I was left pleasantly salivating. The bar was raised with the main, a daring pairing of lamb with smoked eel, the two serving as effective foils for each other. If this is ‘neo’ cooking, then I want more! The wine list is brief and eclectic, and the Austrian Zweigelt we shared with my lamb and my comrade’s celeriac porridge, was a good choice. Pricing is fair (by Mayfair standards), at ~£10 for starters and no more than £20 for mains. Every reason to return.