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Tuesday, 13 December 2011
At a bloggers lunch a few weeks ago, the other foodies at the table discussed the newest, hottest eateries on the London streets. Ducksoup was mentioned- a cute and atmospheric restaurant in Soho, serving up good quality, interesting food.
Wandering round Soho with two friends the other night for a catch up dinner, we were amazed by the amount of restaurants and quirky cafes to choose from. Initially we were intent on trying Polpo or Polpetto, two restaurants I have been meaning to write about for ages, but with long waiting lists at both we moved on to try and satisfy our hunger elsewhere. Ducksoup appeared and remembering the foodies' advice, we went in crossing our fingers that a table for three might be available. They were extremely accommodating, and worked hard and fast to clear a suitable space for us.
Ducksoup is the brainwave of chef Julian Biggs, helped by Clare Lattin and Rory McCoy, who at times have all worked with Mark Hix. The food is stylish but understated - they don't need to make it obvious through showy cooking... Ducksoup is cool, thoughtful and completely unpretentious. The decoration, or lack of it, may suggest carelessness... but this artfully unbothered look mimics the hip eateries in New York.
Sitting round the bar directly behind the lively musicians playing that night, it was very loud and felt just like dining in a buzzing Parisian bistro. The wine list is scrawled across the wall and menus are individually written out each day for the constantly evolving list of dishes available. Bar snacks, small plates and larger main meals are featured, we chose to order smaller dishes to share tapas style. I was just disappointed to see no duck soup on the menu!
Our waitress was very efficient and informative and, though the restaurant was completely full, brought out all our food promptly. She discussed the wine list with expertise, and advised us what we might prefer. We ordered a bottle of the very individual house white that has a very cloudy appearance and has a taste a little akin to cider, it was surprisingly delicious.
Some of the food was exceptional: the whole grilled quail with burnt lemon and tahini yoghurt was wonderfully crisp and caramelised with tender meat and a contrasting salty yoghurt dip. We loved the quail so much we dismantled it and devoured it, not leaving a scrap of meat remaining. The roast shallots with ricotta were delicious and comforting and the Fleurette cheese with fresh crusty bread was to die for, very creamy soft cheese with a mild but distinctive flavour. My friends seemed to love the braised cuttlefish with chorizo, that arrived black as night in a white bowl.
I was disappointed with the artichokes that arrived very dry, rather bland and under-seasoned; but aside from this the food was unusual and delicious, prepared and presented with care and attention. We paid £65 for a filling meal with wine for three and left wholly satisfied with everything about the dining experience at Ducksoup.