Food Store

Restaurants, Cafés Leicester Square
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(3user reviews)
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A calm Italian café just off Leicester Square.

Picking a decent eatery from the swill-serving chains surrounding Leicester Square can be a tough task. Given that, the generically titled Food Store – actually a spin-off of a local chain in north-west London’s Queen’s Park – is a genuine lifesaver. It looks lovely: white tiles, little recesses in the walls that stop it being too much of a box, pastel-coloured bistro chairs, dangly half-designer lamps, marble table-tops. All very calming.

The menu is almost wholly deli-Italian (pizzas, parmigiana, pasta) though there’s also a selection of modish juices, smoothies and chia seed puds, and a range of fresh salads to scoff too. It was all excellent. A slab of lasagne, though not café-cheap at nearly £9, was fab: densely layered, cheese-heavy and with a tomato-light, flavoursome ragu. It was as good as any I’ve eaten in recent memory. The arancini were equally ace: a fat cone of bolognese risotto spiked with saffron, concealing an oozy core of tongue-tingling tallegio cheese (sort of like a little osso buco ball for £2.50 – a proper bargain); while a little log of rice mixed with mozzarella was milder, but no less moreish. Of the salads, a roasted parsnip (in chewy little discs rather than rooty chunks) and wild rice was a neat mishmash of sweet flavours and textures, and the just-blanched broccoli in the de rigueur superfood salad showed good attention to detail (most would have chucked it in raw).

To wash it all down, a fennel, kale and broccoli infused Broccosaurus juice was more palatable than it had any right to be. A flat white was textbook (in a good way). It’s very much a café, so best for a quick-ish bite before stepping out to brave the hordes, but Square-side daytime dining doesn’t come much better than this.

By: Tom Howells

Posted:

Venue name: Food Store
Contact:
Address: 9 Irving St
London
WC2H 7AH
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square
Price: Lunch for two with drinks: around £25.
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Average User Rating

3 / 5

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Tastemaker

My husband and I popped in here last night and I got the butternut squash, ricotta and spinach lasagna for takeaway as well as a detox smoothie sans cucumber. Also a small salad with wild rice (which was pretty pricey for the small portion). Whilst the lasagna was very tasty, with heaping chunks of tender squash and loads of spinach, and the portion size was substantial, I was really put off by the bristly attitude of the counter person. His "thank yous" and "anything else?" came across as he was annoyed for us for the audacity of giving him money. I think he was having a fight with his fellow staff member. Won't be back.

Tastemaker

I was so excited to try this place after reading @Alexandra L's review below, but I'm afraid I left a little underwhelmed and I didn't enjoy my salad box. 


First the good parts - the cafe is clean and fresh, with lots of tables inside and out to sit. The tables outside are particularly lovely, and as Alex said below - it's a rare gem in a mass of chain restaurants. The staff were friendly and helpful but I was pretty alarmed to find that my salad box and a diet coke came to £9. I know we're talking central prices here, but for take-away that's steep! 


Now onto the salad part. There are a variety of salads on offer and I went for what looked like a particularly delectable chicken caesar. The croutons in it were fantastic, but everything else was so drowned in caesar dressing it felt like eating pure mayonnaise. I couldn't eat it and left almost the entire box behind. I can't speak for the other items on offer so I'd like to try this place again and see it it can redeem itself with some different options.


Tastemaker

To say that Leicester Square is devoid of decent places to eat is a bit like suggesting Tom Hanks is quite well liked. Forgive my inner food snob but unless Wetherspoons, Burger King or Chiquitos float your boat, it’s been a long time since there was anywhere around this area you’d fancy setting up camp at and eating in but now, in the shape of the unassuming Food Store you no longer have to trot off to Covent Garden to find sustenance.


Gleaming subway tiles, glass fronted cabinets and chalkboards provide a coolly minimal but inviting interior while there are enough chairs & tables outside to warrant al fresco dining when the sun deigns to poke his head out.


There’s a decent choice of fresh salads & juices alongside hefty slabs of lasagne, arancini big enough to go ten pin bowling with and chocolate studded cookies. Staff are friendly and eager to please – a requested piccolo wasn’t on the menu but made up easily with a smile and check that the finished product was ok. Eat in – FYI you’ll get a generous & reasonably priced portion either way – or take away in brown cardboard cartons and know that in terms of value for money, Food Store is excellent. 


Roast Parsnip Crisp & Black Rice Salad was super earthy, flavourful and moreish as was a lovely savoury Chicken Caesar that wasn’t guilty of normal salad crimes & misdemeanours, namely bulking up with greens and sparsely throwing in a scrap of chicken or a cubed crouton every fourth forkful.


Food Store might not have the lovely location of its original source in Queen’s Park but it’s got a great convenient location near the cinemas and as a delicious beacon of hope in an otherwise taste free wasteland, it’s a very welcome addition to the area.