A couple of weeks ago, my good friend Claire and I met up for a catch-up. She asked me where I wanted to eat and I suggested Ducksoup on Dean Street, Soho.
I’ve been once, but just briefly while I was waiting for another friend to go on elsewhere. I really wanted to try it out properly.
Ducksoup, which opened late last year, is the brainwave of chef Julian Biggs, helped by Clare Lattin and Rory McCoy, all hailing from Mark Hix’s Oyster & Chop House.
This is a cool little restaurant. Most of the seating is around the bar with a few tables along the wall. Everyone pretty much sits on top of one another so don’t expect too much privacy! Personally I quite like this. It adds to the atmosphere of the place and more often that not, I usually end up meeting really interesting people this way.
I arrived at 6.30pm and just managed to nab the very last table for two. They don’t take bookings (I can’t remember the last time I was able to book a table in a restaurant!) so you need to get there early. It was a roasting hot day so they had the windows open into the street.
Ducksoup was buzzing with noise, energy and atmosphere as I walked in. That could be because us Brits are always incredibly excited when the sun comes out. The restaurant was packed with people perched at the bar and the tables inside and out were full.
The decor inside is simple and unpretentious. The wine list (all natural wines) is scrawled across the white tiled walls.
As you walk through the door you pass a turn-table and a stack of records. The restaurant has a BYO policy - bring your own vinyl! Fantastic idea.
The menu is updated every day which I like. I love that you know you’re getting seasonal, fresh ingredients each time. It also keeps you on your toes and it makes you keep coming back. The hand-written menu is divided into sections…small ‘bar’ plates and more substantial ‘kitchen’ plates.
As I was waiting for Claire to turn up, I ordered a cold, crisp glass of white wine and the salami toscano (£6)…
The salami was delicious. It melted in your mouth. But for £1 per slice, it seemed a tad overpriced!
When Claire arrived we decided to order a few plates to share. The chopped pancetta on rosemary toast (£6) jumped out at us.
I loved this. Crunchy sourdough toast topped with fried onions and pancetta and lots of rosemary. Strong, punchy flavours. Delicious.
Next to arrive, the grilled sardines and pine nut tarator (£7)….
Claire loved these. I don’t mind sardines, I just don’t like fiddling with my food, checking it for bones etc. I’m too impatient. They were very nice, I just wouldn’t normally order them. The pine nut tarator was wonderful though.
Next up, beautiful fresh, in season asparagus, topped with Guanciale and a poached egg (£7)…
Finally, quail on fried bread, onions and a brandy sauce.
I loved this, although the quail looked rather too much like a women laid back with her legs crossed! She tasted delicious though! The quail was juicy and tender, the sweetness and the softness of the onions was beautiful against the crunchy toast while the brandy sauce brought it all together. Gorgeous.
I ummed and ahhed at having a pudding. They had Torta di Nonna on the menu which is one of my favourite desserts, but we decided to order some more wine instead. Next time…
I liked Ducksoup a lot. Its busy, crowded, full of atmosphere, the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and they offer up great food. The turn table delivered us some classic Joe Cocker and Stevie Wonder the night we were there but that will obviously change day to day. And with their ever-changing menu, I know i’ll definitely be back.
Ducksoup, 41 Dean Street, London, W1D 4PY
Tel: 020 72874599
The menu is printed on Tumblr every day - http://ducksoupsoho.tumblr.com/