“I’d like to do something different this weekend,” George announced. It seems that he was bored with taking the dog out for a tramp in country. I had just been conducting a twitter chat with Jon Spiteri – he of front of house Quo Vadis fame. Apparently they had gull’s eggs on the menu. Oh, and he and Jeremy Lee (head chef and good mate of ours) were having a twitter argument about biscuits. Anyhow it put me in the mind of popping into QV for a glass of wine and a plate of something nice. Another foodie friend, Geoff Ho was persuaded to come along. Quo Vadis is a lovely, lovely place and I would really like to live there. Everything about it makes me feel happy, from the stained glass windows, the copper bar, the competent staff and the knowledgeable barman. Although elegant it has a relaxed feeling and the food is joyously uncomplicated. I was ready to settle in for the duration but Geoff had other ideas, so after a perfect crab starter, we decamped to the very different experience of Ducksoup, just a trot away down Dean Street. We left Jeremy and Jon to their biscuit tiff and left, very nearly escaping with Jeremy’s wallet, but that’s another story.
Ducksoup is sparse to say the least and not really very comfy. However the three of us were in gung-ho mood having escaped our mundane weekend duties and were prepared to enjoy everything. Firstly, this place is about wine, specialising in natural wines. The “menu” in keeping with the spartan surroundings was hand written on what looked like a bit of foolscap paper ripped from an exercise book. Difficult if your eyesight isn’t great. However the dishes on offer looked like our sort of food; on trend, unfussy and seasonal. We only sampled three of the dishes as Geoff had by now decided we also needed to visit Chinatown for some dim sum. The courgette flowers were perfect, the clams were plentiful and our third dish of pickled herrings with broad bean, lemon and dill was gobbled enthusiastically by George. The broad beans turned out to be a bean version of hummus which seems to be on the menus of many trendy restaurants at the moment. We stayed just long enough to chat to owner Rory McCoy about the non-hangover credentials of natural wines, before pressing onto yet another lunchtime venue. Rory was charming and has previously worked with Mark Hix and clearly knows all about wine. Another quirk of the place is the LP player perched precariously on a shelf near the front door. The food is good, and the menu changes daily and I am sure we’ll be back. However it does have the air of a pop-up about it and I am not sure that it is everyone’s idea of eating out. I have heard tales of people having to queue to get a seat during the week so if you fancy trying it, pick your time carefully. George, who can be fussy, liked the quirkiness of the place, so maybe we’ll do something different again next weekend. Poor dog.
41 Dean Street
London W1D 4PR