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May 17, 2013 03:16 AM

London - Quo Vadis @ Soho, an oldie but *not* a goodie

It's been nearly 2 decades since I was last at Quo Vadis, one of the names which many would regard as synonymous with Soho's gourmet scene. Back there again last night, and it's packed as ever. Some dishes we had:

- Kickshaws: crisp, deep-fried pastries with creamy chicken filling. Nice, though it felt fairly pedestrian.

- Seabass, asparagus, aioli and potatoes: Fresh fillets and relatively bland-ish sauce.

- Onglet, asparagus & horseradish: Pepper-encrusted grilled beef, served rare, with asparagus spears and a pickled walnut (interesting) on the side. Chewy meat, very plain.

- Chicken pie and mash: creamy chicken filling, tasted almost like the kickshaw filling. Chicken fillet pieces were nice and tender, but the dish overall was also a bit plain/bland.

- Chips: very fat, thumb-sized pieces served here. Tasted pretty heavy.

I liked the idea of being back at an old Soho dining institution. Just wasn't exactly bowled over by the food, which very much felt like school canteen fare.

Address details
26-29 Dean Street
Soho, London W1D 3LL
+44 20 7437 9585

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  1. Do you eat out this much when you're home in Singapore, or just because you're traveling?

    I think I'd be bored of restaurants at your rate!

    1 Reply
    1. re: brokentelephone

      I'd have liked to say "no" but, unfortunately, it's a "yes". It's hard trying to lose weight and control my cholesterol level, and yet have a hobby which made me eat out 5 times a week.

    2. I had a brilliant meal here a few years ago before Jeremy Lee took over the kitchen, then a fairly average lunch there last year. Seems to be inconsistent which is a shame for such an institution.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pj26

        Agreed - I heard quite a bit about Jeremy Lee taking over the kitchen, which was why I ended up there last night. I think Marco Pierre White was cooking there the last time I ate there in the 1996/97 thereabouts.

      2. We were due to eat at Quo Vadis just after Lee took over, but ended up elsewhere.. can't remember why. I'm surprised the menu and food isn't more exciting and memorable.

        We had his menu at the Blueprint Cafe before he left (maybe he rues the day?), and that was a fairly decent meal but fairly ordinary as I recall. Maybe some of these chefs are over-hyped.

        From your photos, I wouldn't say the presentation is fine-dining style, but we all know how photos lie. :-)

        3 Replies
        1. re: zuriga1

          Quo Vadis paid absolutely *no* attention to plating, as you can see from the pics.
          The menu's pretty basic as you can see below:

          1. re: klyeoh

            Your comments make me wonder why Jeremy Lee is chosen to be a judge on one of our cooking programmes here. Maybe he's lost his mojo over the years.

            1. re: zuriga1

              'Celebrity TV chefs' - we just can't live without them, eh? Many had become restaurateurs rather than chefs.

        2. I am a little surprised. Quo Vadis has gotten some nice reviews elsewhere and made Nicolas Lander's list of the "best restaurants of 2012."

          1 Reply
          1. re: DavidT

            It's the "halo effect", I guess.

            I, too, had perhaps unrealistic expectations when I walked in there last night. I love dining in Soho, I really liked the nostalgic feel which enveloped me just by being in Quo Vadis again yesterday evening. But the food - gawd, no.

          2. I had a similar experience at a recent meal at the Quality Chop House. A highly anticipated meal at a restaurant with a pedigree and a much lauded new team at the helm. Well reviewed in the papers and the blogosphere, however I struggled to find much of interest on the menu and what I chose was pretty ordinary. Nicely cooked but still very ordinary. Good PR over substance seems to be a contouring trend especially in media savvy London.