It’s no secret that restaurants and coffee shops in London are like chameleons these days. Hotel lobbies double up as areas for creatives to spend a day’s work. Restaurants are doubling up as co-working spaces and venues like Boki are cleverly blurring the lines between brunch, lunch, dinner and evening cocktails.
The opportunity for a relaxed Sunday brunch always grabs my attention. So I popped down with my lovely friend Karen to check Boki out.
Prepare for some serious interiors inspiration – this place is very stylish.
The people behind BOKI
Boki is the brainchild of Boris Becker (not the tennis star) and Kim Mahoney-Hargreaves, hence the catchy name of their business.
Boris and Kim met in the film industry in Soho and bonded on a passion for good coffee and good food.
For a few years, Kim also worked in Australia where he honed his craft in serving up top-notch Allpress coffee. A childhood living in Hong Kong and a genuine passion in Asian cuisine, also meant Boris could bring an international flair to the table.
After some initial time working on a pop-up food joint at the boutique Urban Villa hotel, Boki was shortlisted by the Restaurant and Design Awards for its stylish set-up.
And when the pair finally decided to set up a permanent shop in central London, they couldn’t turn down the opportunity to take a property in Seven Dials. In the heart of Covent Garden where they both used to work, this stylish quarter seemed perfect.
As soon as we arrived, I could see why their initial pop-up had been awarded for its style which has been continued in their West End location thanks to the creative work of Moscow-based design agency Melspace.
We seated ourselves at one of the lovely marble tables where flashes of on-trend details (think succulents and copper cutlery) contrast beautifully with the bare floors and minimalist decoration (and rather vibrant bathrooms).
The style pièce de résistance however, has to be the bar.
Nestled in the back of the restaurant and flooded with natural light, it’s strewn in potted plants and whisky decanters, presenting a super stylish place to sip on a cocktail.
It was Sunday brunch time so we resisted the temptation of cocktails and delved into some delicious superfruit smoothies. I also ordered a pot of fragrant Earl Grey from their selection of T2 Teas.
Food-wise, the menu is succinct and unfussy. But it’s a tough choice as you’re presented with some really interesting dishes.
During brunch o’clock, you can order from the all-day menu which has a range of three sandwiches. But they’re far from what you’d expect.
I had the McBoki, a sarnie comprising salt beef, avocado, an oozy fried hens egg and sriracha mayo. It’s all encased in a charcoal brioche and costs a very reasonable £6.50.
I’m not sure the earthy, smoky hit of the charcoal will win over everyone’s palate, but try it. I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of savoury, salty and tangy flavours.
And it certainly ticks the comfort food box.
You’ll find some interesting side plates that clearly carry the Asian influence here, such as soy marinated hens egg and Asian slaw.
But for something a little more virtuous, you may like to try one of the main lunchtime dishes. It featured smashed avocado on sourdough; a vegan bowl (of tofu, quinoa, edamame, avocado, radish and toasted sesame) and the Boki bowl, which Karen went for.
The Boki Bowl is a base of quinoa with beetroot, avocado and poached egg, which is married together with a strong kick of Dorstone hill goat’s cheese (a type of mouldy cheese).
We didn’t try the sweets but if you do, there are some artisan pastries and breads at the coffee counter as well as scrummy delights such as pasteis de nata and – if you’re feeling really indulgent – a salted caramel brownie.
As for the evening menu, it’s basically an extension of the all-day options, however I’m going to have to come back as there were a few tempting sounding dishes. Think lamb tacos, jalapeno cornbread and harissa yoghurt and crispy chicken skins with baba ghanoush. Yum.
If you do fancy something a little bit stronger, I’m told there are some show-stopping cocktails here, created with the help of Matthias Lataille (the Brand Ambassador for Martell). One that stands out is the 7 Dials High ball – a blend of Havana Club 3, lime juice, pineapple juice and Vinho verde wine.
And if cocktails aren’t your bag, you’ll find a good selection of wines (including sparkling), London beers, aperitifs and of course, expertly prepared Allpress Coffee.
As I say, there are no rules here as to what you order when and I think you’ll agree, it’s an interesting place. The food balances style with simplicity, the presentation is laid-back but classy and the surroundings are undeniably stylish yet not too try-hard.
Boki has only been open since August but I can’t wait to see how it evolves. In an overly saturated city of hip coffee shops and restaurants, it’s a chameleon that evolves throughout the day but is in no way a copycat – it’s quietly-yet-confidently doing its own thing and if you haven’t been, I think you’re going to like it.
Have you been to BOKI? Do you like the sound of the food? Feel free to share your thoughts…
BOKI, 20 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, London WC2H 9LG