Soho is the stuff of legend the world over, and used to be like someone was making a movie there, with a rag tag cast of characters and colourful, evocative streets. Not so much now. Cleaned up, modernised, gentrified, you could argue it has lost its soul. But, as a place stuffed to the gills with fancy food ideas, it is still holding on to elements of uniqueness.
The proliferation of food and drink experiences in Soho demands that you chop the bigger area up into smaller areas. To the north, Ember Yard country near Oxford Street for example, or south west, abutting the curve of the bottom of Regent Street.
This is theatreland meets Mayfair, Polpo world meets Hawksmoor Air Street. Over the other side of Regent Street you go to start a hedge fund, but Soho side, you come to eat, drink, buy/sell clothes and go see a show.
Kingly Street and Kingly Court – still mourning the loss of Dennis publishing mogul Felix Dennis, a long-time and high-profile resident – has given birth to a rash of eating emporia. Pizza Pilgrims, JinJuu, you can find whatever you want.
Brasserie Zedel sits nearby like a slightly disinterested observer, secure in the knowledge that he is the finest looking, classiest joint in the neighbourhood.
The Soho of drugs, sex and homelessness has been pushed off the streets and in some cases out of the clubs (bye bye Madame JoJos) and for anyone who has worked there, are you really going to miss the roughsleepers fighting as you go to work?
What the area has lost, though, is its sense of mythology. The characters are still there, but they must feel like they’ve walked onto the wrong film set.