Eat this: Sow

The bowl food trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, as a new Soho venue prepares to offer a range of all-day eats.

28 May 2019
breakfastfast casualpoultryrestaurantsstreet foodvegan
  • The Gist: An all-day bowl food restaurant with counter service
  • The Chef: Frederick Forster
  • Location: Great Marlborough St, London W1F 7HS
  • Food in 5 words: Prepare to be bowled over
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How did we get here?

Founder Peter Farrell originally did a four-year Culinary Arts degree in Dublin but discovered moving front of house would allow him to become more of a generalist and help him open restaurants.

He worked in the kitchen at Wild Honey, before gaining management experience at Arbutus, Prescott & Conran and Les Deux Salons. He then went on to launch a street food business, getting pulled into the vegan scene, where he found himself isolated from the mass market. After being accepted into a NatWest accelerator programme, he met his future investor, leading to the creation of Sow.

Based on the popularity and near-universal appeal of bowl food, Sow is aimed at those looking to spend on average less than £10, basing its model on Leon.

“The middle market is not working and high-end is hard to scale up, so it made sense to develop a counter-service concept. And bowl food, such as poke, is doing really well in London,” said Farrell.

Sow will launch in Soho in June. The restaurant will be split over two floors, with 22 seats inside and eight outside, in a format that Farrell hopes will give them the best chance of scaling up.

Chef Frederick Foster, who is a former National Chef of the Year and has worked with the likes of Raymond Blanc and Michel Roux Jr, is in charge of the globally inspired, seasonal bowl food menu.

What’s different about it?

People can get their bowl food fix from 7am to 10pm from Monday to Thursday and up until 11pm on Friday and Saturday – essentially, almost all the time.

Sow will have a fairly standard breakfast menu of granola and porridge items, along with organic eggs, chorizo beans and broken avocado. Pastries will also be available throughout the day.

Six hot and cold bowls will be on sale, as well as a few sweet ones. Breakfast bowls will start from £3, with all-day bowls from £7.

Eventually, the goal is to introduce grab-and-go food in fridges at the front of the restaurant, though this will start with just drinks. Farrell will also look to open smaller kitchens in high-density residential areas in London that will only do delivery.

You’ve got to try…

The vegan buckwheat noodles, shiitake mushrooms, sesame and nori broth. Sow is advertising itself as having international influences, and this Japanese-inspired number encompasses a few of our favourite things: mushrooms and nori (seaweed).

Sparkie also likes…

The spiced chicken, savoury rice and pickled cabbage – not everything has to be about plant-based, okay? Plus, this dish seems to have carefully balanced the different taste elements.

Go if…

You want an affordable feed at any time of the day.

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