Simon Wittenberg marks the last of the summer sunshine with lunch at the intimate European-style eatery near Piccadilly Circus.
Tucked away on Great Windmill Street in Soho, behind the hustle and bustle of Shaftesbury Avenue, is Bantof, a small European-style restaurant which opened its doors a year ago in September 2022. This all-day dining eatery, which is split across two levels, has been tastefully decorated with hints of gold and dark green tones, echoing the rich colours of Mediterranean olive groves.
The dining area on the first floor.
Bantof can accommodate private parties and around 65 guests at a time across two floors, with the main seating area and bar offering some light snacks at street level. We opted to dine on the first floor, which houses a second bar area and a few tables dressed with pretty floral arrangements.
At one end of this space is another unique feature – a small outdoor terrace with banquette-style seating, where visitors can enjoy a drink or a bite to eat al fresco when the weather allows.
Bantof offers a fairly comprehensive drinks menu, so we opted for mojito cocktails plus glasses of white Gruner Veltliner wine from Austria and a Riesling from Australia’s Eden Valley to enjoy throughout our meal.
The restaurant’s ground floor bar.
Lunch is served at Bantof from 12:30 onwards – the subject of our review. It’s a concise menu at this eatery, so there isn’t an extensive line-up of dishes, but there’s still enough choice to provoke some thoughts as to what to have for each course. There’s also a great value business lunch, costing just £20 per head for three courses, including a drink, so there is something to suit all budgets here.
All food is prepared by Bantof’s skilled team in the basement kitchen, so the hosts have to put in a fair few steps up and down the narrow staircases over the day to cater to visitors’ needs.
For starters, it’s a largely vegetarian and fish selection, comprising everything from spinach pie salad to octopus with caper jam and herb oil.
It must be said that the portions are generous at Bantof, so there is enough to share between two if you want to get a taste of more than one dish per course when dining with another guest – which is exactly what we did.
For the opening chapter, we settled on the portion of creamy Burrata (£11), surrounded by thinly sliced pieces of red and yellow heirloom tomatoes and large basil leaves, as well as what turned out to be a clear favourite – the sea bream tartare (£15). This had an almost mousse-like consistency thanks to being combined with avocado, with a tanginess brought to the fore via the dressing made with yuzu (a citrus fruit from East Asia).
Served in a circular shape, with a soft and smooth consistency and a touch of green oil in the centre, plus smoked almonds and tiny flowers for added garnish, this dish was heavenly, and combined perfectly with the pieces of warm and crusty sourdough bread.
With a short break that ensued, and with cutlery replaced, it was time to indulge in the mains. At this stage of the meal, there’s a choice of meat, fish and veggie options, taking in the likes of ribeye steak, and a truffle burger.
We headed for the boneless fillet of moist seabass (£21), which was presented skin side up with a garnish of samphire, chopped tomato, and whisps of salsa verde. In addition, we decided on the sizeable spinach and lemon risotto (£16), which was equally impressive, and was finished with a papadum-like crisp as the showpiece.
The menu lists a few sides, which range in price from £5 to £8, and they are not technically needed as you’re well-fed at Bantof. However, we complemented our mains with a portion of beautifully-prepared sweet potato fries, and some soft mashed potato.
If you happen to have any room left for dessert, there are four sweets highlighted on the à la carte, so there’s not a big decision to make at this point from the scoops of ice cream, the affogato, the lemon meringue cheesecake (£9), and the triple chocolate mousse (£9), which had a sponge consistency for the base.
We tried the latter two, and, on balance, it was probably the cheesecake that won us over more than the mousse, but with that being said, there were clear plates for both, signalling an enjoyable end to our visit to Bantof.
Bantof is a gastronomic gem situated away from the busy tourist areas, but it is worth the extra few minutes walk to make the diversion to this restaurant. The setting is comfortable and not overly crowded, whilst the service is friendly, polite, and efficient, plus the courses are nicely paced.
It’s clear that at the point of this eatery celebrating its one-year anniversary, Bantof has unique qualities that set it apart from the competition, meaning it’s there to stay for many more years on Great Windmill Street.
Bantof – Where and How?
Bantof is located at 31 Great Windmill St, London W1D 7LW, United Kingdom. For more information or to make a reservation, visit www.bantof.com.
See a video and pictures of what we had to eat at Bantof on the Luxurious Magazine Instagram page.
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