For me Soho in London has always been more of a touristy destination better known for its “entertainment” and late night antics. In the last 3 years there has been a most welcome gastronomic burst of new life to the scene, with restaurants from Russel Norman’s “Polpo” group paving the way for other new delights to prop up.
Ducksoup is an urban understated restaurant serving up modern European food, with a relaxed and genuine feel to it.
Unlike many of the other new places, we can actually book a table in advance, with half of the restaurant taking walk-in only guests.
The place is small and narrow with two levels. As you enter there is a vintage record player playing beautiful old skool vinyls, two little tables by the front window to people watch, and a bar to sit along. Our table is in the lower level, that also has a bar and small tables.
The menu is hand written and changed daily. We sit by a frame containing previous menus – just to entice you to come back in the hope that one of the beautiful options comes back.
I haven’t seen my friends A and K for months, so take a long time to decide on the wine as we’re busy chatting away. Our initial pick was is to have a bottle of white wine from Etna, in Italy, as both K and I are intrigued by the wine from a volcanic region. Our waitress being Italian, knows the wine kindly mentions that it has a very strong flavour due to the volcanic land and offers a tasting. The wine was very full bodied for a white wine, nice and interesting for a taste and an aperitif, but not what we were after to accompany our meal. Instead we opted for the safe, Sauvignon Blanc from Touraine (£30). This wine was nice and refreshing, with a hint of passionfruit, just what we were after. I must say that being able to taste the wine before committing yourself to a whole bottle is one of those extra nice touches that only certain establishments and special waiters will offer.
So onto the main the attraction. The fooooood. The menu is divided into “Bar”, “Small kitchen” and “Big kitchen”, and as we want to share we get a few of each after asking for a few recommendations from the waitress.
All three of us being Australian, always love a bit of beetroot. The beautiful sharp beetroot dip was slightly lumpy (in a nice bitey way) with dill and pistachio (£4). A lovely light summery dip to kick things off.
The deep fried courgette was beautiful light and crispy and served with a beautiful tahini.(£4) This was a recommendation by the waitress, and was delicious, but not one that I would necessarily rave (unlike the cheese!).
Next from the small Kitchen section we had the quail, chargrilled and served with burnt lemon, harissa and tahini yoghurt (£7). We actually had to wait a long time for this dish, but oh, was it worth it. The quail although small, was packed with charcoal flavour, and the burnt lemon had a sweet yet sour flavour – we could have had one each of these!
From the big kitchen section the red mullet was melt in your mouth buttery soft and sweet, cooked with saffron and accompanied by a gentle braised fennel and aioli (£14). I really loved this fish, but note the mullet is a bony fish (so not one if you’re on a date).
The spiced lamb was cooked in a saucy aubergine and broad beans sauce (£14). The flavour of the lamb was sweet with a gentle spice and could have been cooked a little rarer, but still was full in flavour.
Having had such a feast, we had to end on a sweet note and shared a deconstructed lemon cheesecake (£6.5). Soft Brillat Savarin cheese, a decadent luscious, creamy and slightly sour triple cream brie cheese served with a bitey lemon curd and crunchy crushed biscuit. This was delicious more-ish and creamy, and in hindsight, not something to be shared!
The dinner was thoroughly enjoyable, as we spent our entire evening delighting ourselves and never feeling rushed in the modern Italian food. We were also lucky enough to be served by the Italian waitress that gave us that extra special touch.
Ducksoup 41 Dean Street, London W1D 4PY