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Holly Acland gives Six Degrees
the third degree...

Six Degrees - Frith Street - Soho W1

I may well be lampooned by Soho evangelists for admitting this but I would not normally head to the narrow, crowded streets of London's famous drinking district for a first class meal. People-watching from one of the many tables lining the pavement - yes; partying in a crowded bar - yes; memorable food in civilised surroundings - no.

Yet the latest name to occupy Frith Street promises both the above. Six Degrees straddles three floors at the Soho Square-end of Frith Street. The ground floor reception area is dominated by a dramatic water cascade and an adjoining bar offers drinks and cocktails and a simple but innovative all-day menu - think lobster claws with chips and swordfish club sandwiches.

The second floor is described as 'The Friendship Lounge' (a sort of gentleman's club stroke exclusive bar) but we were here to sample the main restaurant on the first floor.

It was only after ordering our habitual gin and tonics that we picked up the menu and discovered an array of drinks that made the g and t look like the poor country cousin. Champagne cocktail, Silver Fizz (gin, lemon and egg white shaken and charged with soda) and Vodkatini (frozen vodka served 'naked' with two olives) were among the pre dinner drinks on offer - so don't be too hasty in your ordering.

Drinks is something Six Degrees does particularly well. There is an extensive wine menu ranging from a good sauvignon blanc for £12 to a selection of fine wines for up to £90. And to accompany the pre meal menu there is a post meal equivalent offering cognacs, rums and ports all at around the £6 mark.

The food menu combines Mediterranean and Pacific Rim cooking and is characterised by original combinations such as cured salmon and scallop salad with citrus dressing (£.7.95) and shitake mushroom and coconut soup (£4).

My olive crusted baked goats cheese with pesto dressing (£5.95) was a predictable choice given my penchant for goats cheese but did not disappoint. There was a generous amount of cheese, encrusted with black olives and doused in pesto - delicious. My partner was loyal to his South West roots and chose the Cornish crab spring rolls with mango salsa (£6.95). The dish was beautifully presented with a stack of rolls ("better than anything I've had in China Town) encircled by slices of soft, ripe mango.

Both of us opted for 'winter warmer' main courses as it was tipping down with rain outside and we looked down from the warmth and comfort of the restaurant onto a sea of umbrellas. My sirloin steak (£14.95) came with tiny fried new potatoes, small but perfectly formed molasa onions (the best) and a chimichuri dressing. We greedily shared two side orders of mash and sugar snaps as my partner tucked in to roast lamb rump with spinach, wild mushrooms a

If this sounds rather too much like traditional English fare and you're wondering where the 'Pacific Rim' influence has got to - other options included Thai spicy fish balls with basil and sweet and sour sauce and roast cornfed chicken with bok choi and Thai noodles.

Unfortunately the pineapple bread and butter pudding with pineapple sorbet (as recommended by the waiter) had run out so I, dismissing the fact that we hadn't actually had a summer, chose summer fruit pudding (£4.95) and my partner double chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream (£4.95). The summer pudding was moist and crammed full of fruit and the brownie suitably chocolatey and gooey. With winter now thoroughly set in, Six Degrees is a top eatery for hearty food, generous helpings and some unusual and creative combinations. If you're not a typical Soho surfer, this restaurant is well worth venturing along Frith Street for.

Holly Acland, December 2000

Six Degrees
56 Frith Street
London W1V 5TA

Reservations: 020 7734 8300
Fax: 020 7734 8717

Opening hours: Restaurant Lunch: midday - 4pm. Dinner: 6.30 - 1am

Click here for Dine Online's quick guide to eating out in Frith Street, Soho


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