Located in the centre of Covent Garden market’s bustling North Hall is Buns & Buns which was first opened in Miami in 2014, brainchild of restauranteur Alexandre Zibi. The concept was trialled in Canary Wharf before opening in Covent Garden in November.
The stylish restaurant is housed in a glass box, absorbing the lively atmosphere of the market. I entered amidst a plume of smoke to lobsters on ice and steaming bao buns showcased along with the other fresh produce on a gleaming marble counter top. The restaurant has a diner feel to it with an open kitchen, booth seating and bar counters but with luxe touches. The warm tones and soft lighting were complimented by hues of jade and copper finishes, which was very inviting on a freezing cold January evening.
I was led to a booth table conveniently located next to the bar. Stringing out the festive period, I opted for a mulled wine to warm my bones. Other seasonal cocktails included the Mandarin Spritz combining mandarin juice with Aperol, prosecco and soda.
Buns, buns and more buns are currently taking over London however contrary to the name of the restaurant there are far more than bao buns on offer here. The motto ’bread is life’ is showcased throughout a menu that encompasses different types of breads from around the world. It’s the who’s who of cuisine from Italian pizzas to North American Lobster rolls and of course a few Taiwanese bao buns. Basically, anything you can think of wrapped in dough is available although there are lighter options with bread on the side.
We ordered an outrageous amount of food but it was hard not too with so much on offer. I have to admit I was slightly sceptical when I had perused the online menu before my visit, as I always am of any restaurant that offers a wide variety of cuisines. I was unsure how they would be able to execute each dish successfully. However I was wrong.
As is the trend now, the food comes when it’s ready as supposed to in courses. First up the prawn and pork belly bao buns which were instant winners. The pork belly with bourbon glaze and apple coleslaw melted in the mouth. The chilli Thai prawns were ridiculously garlicky, but in a good way. The buns had arrived with the Pao de quiejo basket (balls of bread with a centre of melted cheese!), that our waitress Sandra had insisted we try as they were from the Chef’s native Brazil.
We also sampled the half grilled lobster and organic rotisserie chicken with a tomato, avocado and cucumber salad which were all great. The stand out dish for me was the Chilean rib eye sandwich with shallots and aji panca sauce on ciabatta. This was hands down one of the best steak sandwiches I have had the pleasure of eating and I would go back to Buns & Buns for this dish alone.
I was absolutely full to the brim and could not even entertain the idea of dessert however there was a cheesecake on offer. I had heard about their seasonal doughnuts so might have to revisit to sample these as well as their carbonara pizza which looked unreal.
Whilst Buns & Buns is not the place for carb haters or the gluten intolerant, this ‘fine-casual restaurant’ is the perfect spot for group dining. There are too many items on the menu to get stuck into for a party of two. The portions are large and the service is super speedy. Our waitress Sandra was also amazing and on hand at all times. I will definitely be back, if not just to get a picture with the selfie clock.
Chilli Thai prawn bun with aioli, coriander and lime £7.50
Pork belly bun with bourbon glaze and apple coleslaw £7.50
Half grilled native lobster with ponzu beurre blanc, caramelised lemon and fries £28.00
Chilean rib eye sandwich with mixed leaves, crisp shallots, aji panca sauce ciabatta bread and French fries £18.00
Organic rotisserie chicken marinated with yoghurt and lime, chicken gravy, roasted carrots, broccolini and sourdough bread £19.00
Pao de queijo basket £5.00
Tomato, avocado and cucumber salad £5.00
Buns & Buns, 5C Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 8RA
0207 287 5335