Soho is awash with a new generation of what I’d call ‘accessible gastronomic’ bars, cafes and restaurants. If you’re a traditionalist who prefers food to be served on a plate and Prosecco served from the bottle it’s probably not a place for you – although your conservatism has probably kept you away from the area for some time – but if a bit of non-conformity tickles your taste buds, you’re in for a treat.
Homeslice is typical of Soho’s new generation of restaurant. Unique and innovative it serves up a variety of gourmet toppings that are piled on top of a standard 20 inch pizza. The restaurant is an evolution of a stone pizza oven built into a trailer that was carted around the streets of East London by the founders before moving their operation into a pop-up styled restaurant in Neil’s Yard.
From the outset you could be forgiven for thinking that there’s nothing more pretentious than serving scallops and artichokes on a pizza, but it doesn’t take long to figure out that places like Homeslice show that we’ve moved on from an age where such food items were the preserve of the rich and famous. The waiter’s relaxed and approachable demeanour and the general vibe of the restaurant turns ‘pretentious’ into ‘quirky’, making the whole business model rather more approachable.
The same could be said of the drinks on offer. Prosecco on tap and wine served by the magnum would once have had Soho’s young and trendy running for the nearest Sam Smiths pub, but once again, its gourmet offering is made accessible by the pour-your-own wine policy – they measure it later – and the fact that all drinks cost the same.
Wondering whether my girlfriend had picked up on this or whether my ‘generosity’ was about to score me some big Brownie points I ordered a glass of the fizz and a Camden Hells lager – too hip for its own good, but good beer – as we studied the chalk board for our choice of toppings.
The general consensus is that, as the pizza is 20 inches as standard, a choice of two halves of different toppings is the best option. The board features toppings ranging from chorizo, corn and coriander to haggis, leek and ogleshield (a type of cheese) and everything in between. We settled on one half of cauliflower cheese, aubergine, spinach and harissa (chili pepper paste, unbeknown to myself or my spice-free-at-all-costs girlfriend) with another half of oxtail and horseradish cream.
After a brisk 15 minutes spent gawping at the Man vs Food-sized pizzas being delivered to the tables around us we were subjected to our own gawp frenzy when our oversized pizza arrived at the table. Served on a wooden pizza board with two paper plates you’re faced with tackling all 20 inches without cutlery and a pizza slicer as your only weapon (told you it isn’t pretentious), so first dates be warned.
The contrasting halves, both of which came with different bases, give you a taste of what is obviously a well thought-out and thorough menu that pushes the boundaries of the traditional pizza arena. What is apparent is that these are the sorts of dishes that could easily flop if just one element goes amiss, but thankfully Homeslice gets it bang on from base to topping. With far too much food for even the hungriest of stomachs to tackle, this comes with my full seal of approval.
Jack Peat authors ‘Of Wood and Region’, a journey across Europe drawing on the similarities of the most renowned drink regions of the world.