What’s the draw
56 Wardour Street was once home to brunch favourite Jackson & Rye, but should you head to the central Soho location now, you’ll be greeted with drag queens, disco balls and Dom Pérignon in place of avo toast, mimosas and buttermilk pancakes. Martha’s promises a decadent American-inspired menu in an outrageous setting, bottomless bubbles and fresh oysters - and it does what it says on the tin: think truffled mac n’ cheese, fried chicken and fluffy lemon meringue with a side of live jazz and extravagantly dressed staff - while the retro 1950s-style velvet armchairs, smooth, silky wallpaper and giant sparkling disco ball feel so downtown Manhattan that you almost forget you’re in central London.
What to drink
Bubbles are served in dainty champagne coupes, and there’s a decent-looking list of cocktails here, too. The 'Lady of the Night' is a particular stand out - a fruity combination of Beefeater gin, plum liqueur, raspberry gin jam, lemon and egg white, complete with Aphrodite bitters - plus the 'Moka', a mix of Mount Gay rum, chestnut liqueur, espresso, nut bitters and dark chocolate, sounds like a rum-pimped Espresso Martini for vodka haters.
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What to eat
Oysters, grilled asparagus and beef carpaccio top the entrée options, alongside a selection of dressing-drenched and crouton-topped salads (this is American dining, after all). The oysters are ice-cold, fresh and salty – good, as oysters go, bringing memories of summers dining overlooking Coney Island beach flooding back – while asparagus and calamari are true to their straightforward menu descriptions. The calamari portion is generous, served deep-fried, crispy, and with a miniature pot of mayonnaise although a little lacking in the lime name-checked on the menu, while asparagus is char-grilled and served on a bed of quinoa and pickled mushrooms. For mains, we opt for seared tuna and fried chicken, with sides of mac and cheese and green beans. They’re well cooked without being standout dishes, but dessert here is the clear highlight: picture saccharine sweet, stick-to-the-roof of your mouth New York cheesecake, topped with oodles of whipped cream and icing sugar – very extra but all the more exquisite for it. The towering lemon meringue is also great: biting, bitter and served in a portion as big as your head. Yes, there are more specialist destinations nearby for great cocktails, fried chicken or brunch food, but you can’t go too far wrong here for a pre-theatre meal, lively brunch or a few drinks in a buzzy atmosphere – head for the entertainment factor and to boast that you’ve stopped by for a drink under a Death Star-sized disco ball, if nothing else.
Mains from £10, wine from £6.50 by the glass. 56 Wardour St, Soho, W1D 4JG; marthassoho.co.uk.