Our Samina heads down to Boki in Seven Dials, Covent Garden. It may look like a coffee shop, but it is much more…
In A Word:
Mainly couples, mates who are catching up and I can see a fair few singles here. A general mix of workers, shoppers and a few tourists in the café area.
Hearing about a new coffee shop opening may not be ‘new’ anymore, but when you hear about a ‘progressive coffee shop’ opening in the trendy district of Seven Dials, the mind starts to wonder. Boki’s founders Kim Mahony Hargreaves and Boris Becker (no, not the tennis guy…) have very recently opened their permanent site on Earlham Street.
Not just anyone can open a business here but Boki’s concept of ‘café by day and cocktail bar in the evening’ seems to be ticking the right boxes. So, Jack and I head over to see what the fuss is about.
From the outside, it definitely has the look and feel of a high-end artisan coffee shop and it maintains this as you step inside, but then you start to see something different.
You have what looks like a standard coffee shop layout, but then it leads to a wider space with a beautiful circular bar decorated with green foliage and plants. The skylight above it encourages the natural light to enhance its tropical island-bar feel. It’s a bit mix and match, but is well thought of. The combination of industrial flooring, brass tops and contemporary lighting gives a laid back but rather classy vibe to the place.
After carefully browsing the exciting menu, we choose our dishes…
The dishes arrive promptly and all at once, so let’s deal with the small plates first. All are beautifully presented. I tuck into my Mini Crayfish Yorkshires which is a tad difficult to cut in its individual tray so I transfer it to a plate. Imagine a prawn cocktail served in a Yorkshire pudding and that’s what you get here, except this is far more exciting.
The succulent crayfish and mashed avocado adds a flavoursome kick to the cocktail sauce and goes surprisingly well with the crispy Yorkshire pudding. There is a hint of sweetness in the base of the pudding which vamps the flavour.
Jack’s Salt Beef Tacos are delightfully moreish and bursting with flavour even though they’re a bit messy to eat. (Do use both hands to eat them!) It reminds me of a mince curry I once had and now I’m thinking of a bolognese as the sauce touches my palette…a strange combination, but it works.
I finally get to try something I’ve never had before and that’s Jalapeno Cornbread. The jalapeno explodes on my tongue. Jack seems unmoved by it, but I find it very spicy. Hotness aside, this is my least favourite. I don’t think I have much love for cornbread, it’s a bit too stodgy.
This brings me to the main dishes. I have the Boki Vegan Bowl and its appearance alone already makes me smile. Again, top marks on the presentation. All the vegetables and smoked tofu are beautifully arranged on a bed of quinoa and there’s lots of shapes and colours – it’s summer in a bowl. So, what about the taste? I don’t normally like tofu but Jack and I are seriously impressed. It has a light smoky flavour coming through and the texture is soft but firm – sort of like a Bavarian cheese.
Mixing it into the quinoa and the sliced avocado provides you with a truly sensational taste. The accompanying juicy beetroot adds a little sweetness and the thin slices of radish give it that extra crunch. It’s a healthy, tasty dish.
OK, so Jack’s Classic Sandwich with pastrami may not be as healthy, but life is all about balance as they say, and I say, this is one delicious deli sandwich. The sweet, toasted butter brioche intensifies the pastrami and cheese and oozes flavour. It also prevents the sandwich from tasty samey after a while. It’s the right balance of sweet and savoury.
They’re big on cocktails here, although is also a selection of wines, beers and ciders and all from independent producers. I would like to see a bigger selection of ciders on their list as currently there are only two. Still, I enjoy the Oliver’s Yarlington Mill Fine Cider. Crisp, fruity and slightly sharp.
I also try one of their signature cocktails – the Boki Negroni. The difference here compared to a regular Negroni cocktail is that it’s infused with…yes, you guessed it, coffee. All their signature cocktails are either infused with coffee or a specially made coffee liqueur – snazzy!
The Boki Negroni is served short and instantly feels like the ultimate summer cocktail with its rich orange colour, stack of ice cubes and spiralled slice of orange peel. It’s like a sunset in a glass. It starts off sweet and summery, but ends with a slightly bitter, dry finish.
There’s a strong orange flavour coming through with the Campari and a distinctive hint of coffee as I swallow. The aftertaste has a kind of chocolate orange flavour which is now reminding me of winter. The finish isn’t as bitter as Jack would like it, but personally I think this cocktail has the right amount of sweet and bitter.
This is an impressive establishment. It’s hard to pin down their type of cuisine. Hargreaves’ British heritage and Becker’s background in Asia certainly makes it a fusion cuisine, but there is also a hint of South American influence…However, that’s what partly makes Boki exciting. That and its chilled, opulent interiors and ingenious use of space makes it an ideal spot to catch up with friends or take a breather before you head off to the shops or theatre.
Be warned however, you may stop for a coffee and brunch in the afternoon and end up staying for a cocktail in the evening…