The first thing I notice about the all new House of Ho in Fitzrovia — the original House of Ho in Soho is now just called “Ho” — are the stairs. The all new House of Ho is set in an old townhouse, and if you’re not dining on the ground floor, there are a lot of stairs. And they’re creaky. The front of house staff have advised me to climb all the stairs to the top of the restaurant and wait for my party in the bar. My gym got rid of their last StairMaster a few months back, and as I climb the stairs, I start a strongly worded letter in my head, suggesting they bring it back.
Luckily, my party finds me before I make it to the top floor — we’re in the very lovely and serene private dining room on the 2nd floor — and a heart attack is averted — although I make a solemn vow to up my gym visits from .5 times a week to at least 1.5 times a week.
I’ve been invited to a social media night at the restaurant but of course I’ve forgotten my camera and my blog cards. What sort of blogger am I?? (Hint: An old one.) And there’s assigned seating at the dining table, which makes me wonder briefly about the conversations that must have occurred to put this all in place.
This is quickly forgotten when our servers plop a nice plate of bo la lot down in front of me. Bo La Lot is very, very special to me — I had never had them before visiting Cay Tre in Old Street back in 2005, and now I love love love them. (Don’t you love the effusiveness of my earlier writing style?) Like really love them. I hold myself to one piece at House of Ho, and it’s a great, high-quality version — the quality of the beef being deliciously higher than that at Cay Tre.
Bowls of duck and watermelon arrived early on during the meal and while I am not the hugest watermelon fan, this worked amazingly well, the light acidity of the watermelon combatting the richness — not that there’s anything wrong with that — of the duck. I could have had more of this.
Soft shell crab with chilis wins for most photogenic dish of the night. I wonder what do they do with all those chillis after each meal? As a huge fan of soft shell crab, I kept plucking and plucking at the bowl. It reminded me of Easter in America, where you would scrounge around in your Easter basket for the remaining jelly beans, knowing, hoping that there would still be something in there for you to enjoy. While the dish wasn’t listed on the menu at the time of our visit, it can be ordered by special request.
At the end of our meal, they leave us with these lovely little bowls of pebbles — chocolates really. A sweet ending to a very nice meal. Despite the stairs.
House of Ho is now commanded by Ian Pengelley, who used to be over at Gilgamesh in Camden many years ago. If you want another dip into my seemingly limitless archives, check out my visit to Gilgamesh many years ago over here. Good times. (By this point, it’s 2007 and I have discovered my writing voice and dropped the word “yummy” from my vocabulary.)
The Verdict: House of Ho strikes me as a great place to go if you need a private dining room and something different for everyone. I would return for more of the bo la lot and beef with watermelon.
I was invited to House of Ho for a dinner with other social media types. I did not pay for my meal. As always, my opinions are my own.