Food Store (CLOSED)
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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.
9 Irving St
|Transport:||Tube: Leicester Square|
|Price:||Lunch for two with drinks: around £25.|
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