Vampires beware, Soho’s Garlic and Shots is - as the name suggests - a haven for garlic lovers.
Think Ozzy Osbourne and you get the gist. Garlic and Shots spans two floors. Downstairs is diminutive in size and is accurately described as ‘the crypt’. Here, heavy rock music roars in the background and a stone coffin and plastic skeleton stand in the corner. It has a small bar and space to stand - the only seating area is a long table with chairs in a cell-like tomb.
Upstairs it is less dingy, but the colour scheme is still mostly black. Quirky memorabilia adorns the walls such as Swedish traffic signs warning of elks, posters of Bela Lugosi and plastic bats hanging from the ceiling. There are sofas by the window and a couple of big round tables for larger groups. There is also an outdoor area with heaters.
Its dark interior and hairy biker appeal may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is laid back and unpretentious. This, unfortunately, is reflected in the service, which can be a bit hit and miss. The waiters are either friendly and attentive or slow and seemingly moody. The clientele comprises mainly twenty-to-thirtysomethings with a penchant for black jeans, vintage rock band T-shirts, piercings and very long hair. This goes for the staff, too.
Every single dish on the menu contains generous amounts of garlic - there’s even garlic ice cream. The varied menu is in both Swedish and English and includes staple dishes such as noodles, burgers, steak, ribs, seafood stew and nachos. There is a heavy skew towards its Scandinavian roots with dishes such as Swedish meatballs, Swedish hot dogs (that, quirkily, are served in a tin) and salmon. The portions are big and the food is good quality.
The seafood casserole is recommended with its creamy texture and fair portioning of fish, seafood and, of course, the ever present garlic. Luckily, Garlic and Shots provides each table with a pot of fresh parsley. Prices start from around £9 and can increase to over £20 for more expensive dishes such as the steak.
Even the drinks swim in garlic. Recommended is the garlic beer (beer with chopped garlic) just for the novelty. There is also an extensive range of shots (£2.50) on offer. According to Garlic and Shots regulars the Bloodshot (garlic, vodka, tomato, chili and spices) can allegedly cure a cold. Garlic and Shots don’t sell pints, but they have bottled beer, wine and soft drinks.
The Last Word
The food is delicious and the portions are big. However, you have to love garlic to enjoy this place and it might not be the right venue for a first date. It also helps if you don’t mind heavy rock music and an alternative crowd.