Restaurant Review: Randall & Aubin
If you’ve spent any amount of time wandering around Soho trying to find somewhere nice to eat, you will at some point almost certainly have lurked in front of the black and white awning of Randall & Aubin on Brewer Street – and if you’re anything like us you may have moved on, thinking that it looks a bit “fancy”. It has the look of a “special occasion” kind of place; in some ways it is, and as a date venue, it’s all the better for it.
We were greeted with a handshake by Michael, a man handsome enough to draw comments from two lesbians on a date night, and shown to a pair of high stools in the corner next to a wide open window looking out onto Brewer Street. It was, we agreed, the best seat in the house, even if the chairs were rather uncomfortable and it took some time to arrange one’s knees so as to be able to eat without the fear of wearing most of one’s meal. Once settled, glass of chilled white wine in hand, and having ordered from the large and appetising menu, we turned our attention to considering how suitable the restaurant would be as a place to take your date.
“I’m not sure this is the right place for a first date,” my date for the evening, and partner of thirteen years, commented. “It’s the kind of restaurant you want to come to with someone you already know you’re going to like. Perfect for date three or four.” I could see what she meant. There’s an intimacy and romance to Randall & Aubin that makes it the kind of place you would want to be when you realised you were falling in love with someone. It’s tightly packed, with ample opportunity for knee touching and food sharing; but on the other hand, you wouldn’t want to realise halfway through your calamari frites that your date wasn’t nearly as interesting as his Soulmates profile suggested, as there’s nowhere to hide here. Even the toilet has just a single cubicle – hardly suited to emergency phone calls to friends.
But if dates one and two have left you beaming, a romantic meal at this seafood restaurant could be the moment you agree to change your status to “in a relationship” once and for all. The clientele is as varied as you would expect for the Soho location: wealthy Chinese tourists, small groups of thirty-somethings enjoying post-work dinner, and lots of couples, both gay and straight. The food, from the prawn cocktail starters, through the lobster and giant scallop mains, finishing with to-die-for sticky fig pudding and flamboyantly flaming crème brûlée, were unfussy, well-prepared and hearty. The unobtrusive, light house music put us in the mood to head on to another bar or club, and our waitress, Anna, was bright, knowledgeable and intuitively on hand when we needed her.
We had a lovely date night at Randall & Aubin. The combination of good food, fine wine and an intimate setting in a central London location was the perfect cocktail for romance.