Arcade Food Theatre, London
Variety is the spice of life, which is perhaps why we’re currently seeing a revival of the humble food court. In the good company of Hawker House, Dinerama, Kerb, Market Halls Victoria and Fulham, as well as Giant Robot, we went to check out the new Arcade Food Theatre, on the Ground Floor of the Grade-II listed Centrepoint building on New Oxford Street. As the name suggests this is a venture elevating the food court to a food theatre, pushing the offering towards the higher end. However, this is still an experience where self-service is key, with patrons lining up to peruse from two on-site bars and seven food stalls.
Set in the 1960s brutalist tower, Centrepoint on Oxford St, Arcade has lent into the mid-century aesthetic; The brutalist concrete columns have been left as the focus of the space, with indirect lighting added to enhance the dramatic angles. The furniture throughout the site also leans towards the mid-century, with a mix of cherry tinted, dark stained timber and laminate tables. The colours used on the upholstery are bold, with pinks, yellows and blues all coming together to give a playful mix of seating on both the fixed and loose seating, provided by VerPan and others.
Bringing together a handful of some of the city’s favourite cult-followed restaurants we were excited to see what all the fuss was about. In a twist different to other eclectic dining venues, Arcade has allowed for counter-style seating to the front of each food kiosk, enabling customers to get a show with their meal. Open kitchens from each offering give an insight to the freshness and variety of each offer. Each counter has its own personality, with different counter fronts to give each offering individuality. There are counters which lean into the serious Mid-Century vibe, with timber battens, others which straddle the line between contemporary and retro, with terrazzo panels meeting marble countertops.
The branding design is also very fun, with a bold typeface and clear delineation of each different vendor’s cuisine, but cohesively using one typeface to unify the offers; We found it helpful to grab a printed menu and be able to see all the dishes in one place, so we could divide and conquer without missing anything due to lack of visibility. As expected, the offer for each vendor was short, showcasing a small variety of dishes, with the expected show stoppers on the list. We tried several different dishes from each vendor, eager to sample everything we could; We sampled:
- Frango from Casita de Frango, by the team behind Casa de Frango (a popular spot, located near our very own offices!)
- Nikkei Nigiri and Sashimi from Chotto by Chotto Matte, a team specialising in Japanese-Peruvian fare
- Charcoal Grilled Featherblade Tip, from the steak specialists at Flat Iron
- Pici Alla Norcina and the famous Pansoti con Burrata from the 75-year-old Italian institution Lina Stores
- Black Sea Side and Chilli Roast Cauliflower from Oklava, a modern take on Turkish-Cypriot cuisine
The food, as expected was great, with the Black Sea Pide one of the stars of the show, the warm gooey cheese mixed with the rich egg yolk was unlike anything else we had. Of course, we wouldn’t presume anything else from such a curated and experienced list of vendors, some of which we have visited outside of this new venture.
We visited the site again in the daytime to experience the Pophams counter, as it only opens during the daytime and becomes a third bar for the evening trade. Arcade, so nice, we went twice!