Test Driving Kiln, must-visit Thai counter dining in Soho

noodles2Breaking into the glass noodles with Tamworth belly and brown crab meat. Yes it IS very good.

What can you tell us about Kiln?

Kiln is the next restaurant from Ben Chapman - the man behind the very popular Smoking Goat on Denmark Street. Like that, there's a focus on Thai food - but the focus here is on simplicity.

The main part of the restaurant is the upstairs counter - which surrounds the kitchen where all the action happens in plain sight. So think of Kiln as a similar experience to Barrafina or The Barbary - it's all about grabbing one of those seats at the bar.

And do they take reservations?

For the best seats in the house - the bar - they don't. BUT they will take your number and will call you when space frees up. And there's some space to have a drink while you wait.

skewersAged lamb and cumin skewers. You'll want a lot of these.

But you can book some seats?

If there are four or more of you - you can book downstairs, which is better for groups anyway. So there IS a way to plan and get a table without waiting.

Where is it?

In Soho, on Brewer Street, just a few doors down from Hix Soho.

Where can we meet for a drink first (or go while we're waiting for a table)?

The best pub bet is the Sun & 13 Cantons, just a few minutes away. And there's the aforementioned Hix, where we popped in for a post Kiln cocktail. In warmer times, the outside spot at the Ham Yard is a good place as is the bar at Zedel (but make sure you have phone reception down here so Kiln can call you if you're waiting for a table...). 

porkLong pepper and Tamworth shoulder curry. Spicy. VERY spicy.

And what should we order?

We did a little calculation for you. If you decided to order the ENTIRE menu, it would come out to under £90. That's way more than two people need and probably enough for three. So if you can (i.e. if you think your stomach can take it), just go for it. 

But if you do have to limit yourself - here's what we particularly recommend (with the caveat that it's an ever-changing menu, so some of these dishes may not be available):

  • All three of the snacks - but particularly the aged lamb and cumin skewers (£2.90, they come in pairs) and the smoked sausage with Tumeric (£6.50). When you see them preparing the skewers in front of you, you'll want to lean over and grab a handful more. Although don't do that, just ask your waiter...
  • The clay pot baked glass noodles with Tamworth belly and brown crab meat (£5.75). It seems likely the noodles will remain but the rest of the dish will shift. But definitely order it - you'll be scraping the pot clean by the end. And yes, crab and pork DO go well together. Useful to know. 
  • The fresh wild mushroom isaan salad (£6.50). We have no idea how they manage to get mushrooms to taste this good.

We were recommended the long pepper and Tamworth shoulder curry - but be warned that it is very spicy (although they will adjust that if you let them know). So if you can take it - then go for that. We preferred the ever-so-slightly milder wild ginger and short rib curry.

mushroomsFresh wild mushroom isaan salad. Another must-order, we feel. 

How about drinks?

As with the Smoking Goat, the ever-reliable Zeren Wilson is behind the wine list at Kiln, so you really can't go wrong. We went with the 2015 Espontanaeo, grenache Noir, Ludovic Engelvin from Languedoc at £35 - which went perfectly. Wines start at £19 for red (Tempranillo), £22 for white, and £31 for orange.


Kiln is the latest must-visit restaurant in Soho and every bit as good as - while remaining quite different from - The Smoking Goat. Another example of why it's quite hard to beat this type of counter dining, and well worth getting yourself on a waiting list for that counter asap. Highly recommended.

See our full Kiln gallery on Facebook.

Kiln is at 58 Brewer Street, London W1F 9TL. Find out more about Kiln