Despite strong competition, new burger joint Wonderland may well be the single most garish restaurant in all of Soho.
The brainchild of brothers Alex and Oliver Santoro, it comes saddled with at least three different concepts. There’s a sort of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland thing going on, as manifested by the name and some of the graphic novel-style original art. Then there’s its subtitle, ‘Meat vs Plants’, which plays up the idea that it has duelling meat-based and vegan menus (there are separate grills and fryers for each).
It is... quite a lot, and while it essentially feels of a piece with Soho, it’s also somewhat akin to stepping into somebody else’s acid trip.
Finally, the menu itself eschews Lewis Carroll references and opts for a movie-themed vibe: at least five dishes are named after Tarantino films (Le Big Mac Fries, Mr Pink Fried Chick’n Sandwich...). A mention for the decor too: classic American diner style, except it’s a disorientingly all-encompassing powder pink downstairs, and a more soothing cool blue upstairs.
It is... quite a lot, and while it essentially feels of a piece with Soho, it’s also somewhat akin to stepping into somebody else’s acid trip. At the end of the day it’s not that big a deal that a fast food restaurant doesn’t make thematic sense. But it does somewhat muddle the messaging of what Wonderland actually wants to be and who it’s for.
Fortunately the food is pretty great, hearty homemade burgers at a reasonable price and with fun presentation. My vegan Wild Wild West Burger (£11.95) was a veritable landslide of textures (the patty, homemade pickled onions, lettuce, onion rings), bound reasonably neatly by the forceful (but not overwhelming) sweet and smoky BBQ sauce, served - for some reason served in a cardboard box with a picture of Donald Trump in clown makeup on it.
My friend ‘went meat’, opting for the Pulp Fiction-referencing Royale With Cheese Burger (£11.50), which was given a bit of extra punch via the restaurant’s signature ‘wonder sauce’, but was classic enough that Samuel L Jackson would hopefully approve. We also made a mockery of the ‘versus’ concept by sharing a starter of agreeably hefty, unabashedly zingy vegan Korean BBQ wings (£11.95).
We finished with milkshakes - my espresso-flavoured ‘Five Dollar Milkshake’ (another Pulp Fiction ref there, and actually £6.95) was fantastic, if you like your sugared vegan beverages to taste like a gallon of cream was involved (I do!).
Essentially Wonderland makes the most sense if you tune out all the bewildering conceptualisation, at which point you’re left with a nice, reasonably priced independent fast food restaurant that caters particularly well to vegans. It dresses wacky, but when it comes to the actual food, it’s blessedly sensible.
The vibe US-style diner drops a tab of LSD.
The food Flavourful takes on meaty diner classics, mirrored by an extensive vegan menu.
The drink A compact but agreeable selection of long cocktails, bottled beers and wines, but the colossal milkshakes are where it’s at.
Time Out tip If you’re in any way a fan of the colour pink, do head downstairs - perfect Barbie vibes.