Disclaimer: I was invited to review the below venue and our meal was complimentary but all opinions and photos are mine.
Buns and Buns had been popping into my Instagram radar fairly regularly so my curiosity was well piqued about this new London opening. An invite from their Marketing team to review the food seemed an opportune moment to see what the hype was all about.
Buns & Buns first opened in Miami in 2015. Founded by Alexandre Zibi, they are a sister company to Sushisamba. B&B eventually opened their London site in November 2018 at a site which was previously Boho. It is located smack in the middle of Covent Garden’s North Hall, right next to the Apple Market. From the outside it looks like an illuminated glass box.
Inside, they have a theatre-style open kitchen, as well as a basement prep kitchen and everything is freshly made on site.
The menu is a fairly eclectic affair, predominantly centred around showcasing the world’s best breads. So at one end of the spectrum we have Asian inflections in form of the fluffy buns, whilst Italian representation comes from Romano-style pizzas.
We kicked off with some colourful cocktails. The Raspberry Wine Spritzer had a simple presentation but beautiful colours. Being nice, cold and refreshing, it was very summer appropriate. Kris ordered the Mandarin Spritz. True to its name, it had a citrusy burst which complimented as well as contrasted the bitterness of the Aperol very well.
In terms of food, everything arrived as it was prepared. First to make an appearance was the Pork Belly Bun | Bourbon Glaze | Apple Coleslaw. The pork belly itself was superb, deliciously doused in that bourbon sauce. The off-menu Fried Chicken Bun was a confident take on the KFC (the Korean Fried version, not the chain). Overall, the bao buns were soft, spongy and easily gobbled up in two or three bites, so perfect as a light starter.
My favourite though was the Truffle Burrata | Heritage Tomato, Charred Squash, Shaved Truffle and Sourdough. The burrata was pretty good quality; creamy and lush and I could always do with more truffle shavings! The only issue with this dish was that the tomatoes were slightly lacking in flavour and could have done with a punch of something.
For our mains, I opted for the Organic Rotisserie Chicken | Marinated with Yoghurt and Lime, Chicken Gravy, Roasted Carrots, Broccolini and Sourdough.
It was generously portioned; the chicken soft, well-cooked and flavoursome with a beautiful crisped skin on top. I particularly liked the fiery sauce that lifted the whole dish up. Again, the vegetables failed to impress; I felt it just needed some flavour and a thwack of something to bring the whole dish together and elevate it, rather than being side acts.
Kris thoroughly enjoyed his Lobster Brioche Roll | Japanese Dressing, Chives and Fries. The brioche was soft and buttery, holding all that sweet, silky lobster assemblage. The ultra thin shoestring fries (the ones you pick a bunch and gobble at a time) were a good accompaniment. It was one of their standout dishes.
I cannot fault the food or the concept at Buns and Buns. Everything is pretty pitch-perfect here. This place undoubtedly gets a lots of footfall from the tourists visiting Covent Garden. The good news is that for a place that looks touristy, it is not a tourist trap at all.
However, the problem lies in the restaurant design itself. It seems like the venue was designed in Miami and deployed in London (which are two very different climates). Being open air, the wind blasts through the restaurant and the piazza so the food doesn’t stay warm. Nor do the diners. We had to wear our coats whilst having dinner. Perhaps more strategically placed heat lamps can help combat the situation. On a positive note, this place will do roaring business in summer! Some people might also not appreciate the noise coming from the nearby street performers (although I quite liked the buzzy vibes it created).
Another interesting thing to note was the unusually high number of staff on the ground. The manager Aziz was really lovely and looked after us well. Some of the staff were really switched on and on the ball but some were hard to attract attention! As a result, the service was a bit inconsistent.
Overall, this place is a highly convenient Central London venue for a leisurely gathering with family or friends. This place is perfect if you are in a group of people with different food preferences, as everyone will find something on the menu that floats their boat. It could even be an option for business lunches. Prices are steepish so will suit the moneyed clientele better. Still, a fashionable place to meet and greet with some great crowd-pleasing dishes on offer in a London location as central as it can be.
Location : 5 Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 8RA