The smell of spaghetti bolognese and rosemary potatoes is occasionally permeated with the smell of tobacco or hand sanitizer.
For Londoners, it was one last adventure before level 3 restrictions took effect for the capital.
Diana and her boyfriend Raouf haven’t been able to see each other much since the start of the pandemic. They find a table away from the crowds for a quiet coffee.
“I missed socializing, seeing people, but I was nervous that it was crowded, because it’s the last night of freedom,” says Diana.
“That’s why we sat on this kind of island,” says Raouf. “We try to be careful, but we also like to go out. ”
But not everyone is here for a quiet night.
University students Taslima, Samia and Sumaya – and their eye-catching false eyelashes – are enjoying one last night of freedom.
“We’re just trying to make the most of the last day before we got into level 3. We were all home doing our tests and we were like, ‘You know what, we’ll be spontaneous’, so we we just jumped, ”Taslima said before being interrupted.
“We didn’t realize it was the last day, so we just thought we should make the most of it,” Samia says as she takes a selfie with her friends.
Sumaya says the party is a perfect ‘send off’ before the Christmas holidays, but that poses problems.
“There are a lot of people here, so I’m a little afraid of catching coronavirus,” she said, before Samia interrupted me again.
“A cough and we are all gone, but it’s worth the risk. ”
Sumaya turns to her friend. “Is it worth the risk? ”
“The schools are open,” Samia replies. “So why can’t we go out?
Soho is abuzz with people saying goodbye before level 3 shutdown. Not many people admit they’re willing to break lockdown rules to see their friends and family over Christmas.
Dominic Chevida is an Indian athlete who trains for the Olympics. Having recovered from COVID-19 just over a month ago, his concerns appear to be as slight as he claims.
“I know what the virus is and how bad it can be,” he says. “It was pretty sweet for me and I think the numbers we’re seeing are tricky. There is so much fear and anxiety around. ”
Outside the Sondheim Theater, a small crowd swells at exactly 10:10 p.m.
Members of the public on the way home stop to chat while waiting for taxis. Most of them seem to have enjoyed what could be the last performance of the year from the famous Les Misérables du West End.
Many dressed for the occasion – one last chance to party before the West End goes quiet.