[London] - Ducksoup, Soho
Taking over the narrow space that was the vegetarian Zilli retaurant on Dean Street (next door to Cay Tre), Ducksoup quite literally exploded onto the scene a few weeks ago. Run by ex Staff from Hix, the place was positively buzzing when we arrived, and despite the no reservations policy we luckily managed to nab a table in the narrow bar/dining room.
There is so much I want to love about this place. Very bare, casual décor (think Morito meets St John). The hand scrawled menus the waitress hands you add a personal touch. A short selection of small and larger plates that all sound very appetizing. A broad list of well sourced biodynamic and organic wines, along with a lager called ‘F**king Hell’! . Cool, knowledgeable staff that at the same time are completely unpretentious and super friendly. The patrons are sophisticated to match. I was trying all throughout my meal work out if it was hip because of the food, or hip because it’s hip…
The food that came out was competent. I won’t go as far as to say it was mindblowing, but with all things considered, it was a very positive experience. We start with a selection of starters – fried baby squid in fennel seed and salt. A small portion, which was slightly under seasoned, rustically fried in a slightly greasy batter. Thinly sliced courgettes again encased in a robust batter, served with a very tasty tahini and yoghurt dip – very Turkish/Mediterranean tasting with a lemon zing. Excellent smoked anchovies –something that I’ve never had before, served on top of slices of beautiful beef tomatoes garnished with onions. A generous serving of foie gras on top of a thin slice of toast – very reminiscent of the version at St John B&W and equally tasty, although I do find the thicker toast at St John more satisfying.
Mains (all at £14) came in the form of a Frito Misto – decently fried pieces of mackerel (boy do I love mackerel and this was fantastic) Sea Bass (I think), squid and artichokes along with a home made mayonnaise. Nothing to write home about but it was simply a selection of very decent quality fresh ingredients on a plate. The other dish we chose was slow roast lamb served with braised fennel and salsa verde. Good flavours all round, heavy on the capers and the strong flavour of decent olive oil worked pretty well with the tender yet satisfying lamb. Dessert was a crème brulee – which sadly came as a disappointment . If we’re talking in tofu terms, a good crème brulee should in my mind be akin to the silken type. This was slightly overcooked and was more in the form of ‘firm’ variety. A slightly tough skin over the top sadly made it a flawed dessert.
This place is fast becoming one of the hottest joints in town right now, and it has all the elements for it to be a roaring success. A lot of thought has gone into all aspects of the concept, and I’m sure multiple visits will prove rewarding as the menus change daily.
Similar impression when I was there a couple months ago. Medium tender octopus slices, smoothen over with oil, brightened by lemon juice, spiced with paprika. Little squid fried in a crunchy batter, given a slight piquant note with chilli. Good creme caramel, smooth, elegantly textured, the caramel sauce light and dark gold.