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41 Dean Street
Imagine a land of small plates, stripped-back surrounds and would-be diners ready to pounce on your barstool the second you vacate it. Welcome to modern Soho. “Pretentious”, perhaps; hipster, certainly; but we still like the view from the bar at Ducksoup with a plate of pappardelle and rabbit ragù or crab with monk’s beard in front of us. The kitchen trusts its intuition and broadly serves what feels right at any given time of year. This effective approach speaks to lovers of blink-and-you-miss-them seasonal pleasures and gives the menu freedom to roam the globe. Spanish fideo noodles with clams, turmeric-spiced lamb riblets, vitello tonnato and Jewish chicken noodle soup all coexist perfectly peaceably here. To drink, expect a line-up of leftfield ‘natural’ wines in all their glory – well, sometimes anyway.
London's best restaurants and bars for dates
41 Dean Street
Leicester Square Tube Station 234m
Tottenham Court Road Tube Station 304m
Curzon Soho 33m
Old Compton Street 39m
Mon-Sat 12N-10.30pm Sun 1-6pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
In the language of Zero Dark Thirty, Ducksoup is a ‘black site’ of the hospitality industry that seems almost hostile to the normal laws of restaurants. If you arrive without a reservation (a certainty) and there are no tables free (highly likely) then you will have to stand for 15 minutes or more. There is nowhere for you to wait apart from in the doorway, nowhere to hang your coat or bag, and the only place to put your glass of aperitif is on the shelf next to the record player. The menu is a hand-written scrawl that offers no explanations (knowledge of fattoush, gnudi and queenies is assumed). About a third of the 30-odd covers in the place are seated round the small counter on hard metal stools. And the counter itself is so small that plates must constantly be shifted around to make room for new arrivals. To some diners, the whole experience would be akin to torture.
To the contemporary Soho-ite however, there’s nothing here to violate any UN resolutions. The casual, snacky format of the place lends itself to the variety of cuisines on offer. You don’t feel remotely guilty about ordering as much or as little as you fancy, given the size and informality of the joint. Prices are at the reasonable end of W1 levels, such as a generous slab of wonderfully rich pork terrine for £6, a big pile of fluffy sourdough for £2 or a £14 bowl of slow-cooked lamb stew that you just want to dive into. Fattoush was the one misfire price-wise: £7 against an ingredients cost of probably 48p, but the stunning dressing on the salad meant we could let this one go.
There are plenty of extras on the menu with which to treat yourself, including pre- and post-dinner cocktails, and staff gleefully collude in the process, prodding you to have a little bit more or try one more thing. When done with enthusiasm and a smile, it’s always welcome. So as a fun, casual, neighbourhood drop-in place, Ducksoup is definitely worth putting on the hit list.
I have visited Duck Soup on a couple of occasions and I am so glad I did not read the reviews beforehand, otherwise I would never have taken the chance to taste some excellent quality food, great wines with a fun and bubbly atmosphere,
I have discussed with others and really feel that the best dining experience is often when everyone gets the opportunity to share the plates, and this is what Duck soup does best, I have had some amazing dishes such as the pork belly, fritto misto, cod cheeks and best of all the Caponata which is wonderful.
The wine list is very interesting and offers something unique.
As for the staff, they could not be more helpful, this restaurant is not about pretence, where as so many restaurants simply about the image and fail to hit the mark.
A massive thumbs up to Ducksoup and would recommend to anyone if you want some great food with a fun atmosphere.
“I'd like to do something different this weekend,” George announced. It seems that he was bored with taking the dog out for a tramp in country. I had just been conducting a twitter chat with Jon Spiteri – he of front of house Quo Vadis fame. Apparently they had gull's eggs on the menu. Anyhow it put me in the mind of popping into QV for a glass of wine and a plate of something nice. Another food friend was persuaded to join us and we found him looking happily looked after in the bar. Quo Vadis is a lovely, lovely place and I would really like to live there. Everything about it is just right with it's elegant surroundings and joyously uncomplicated food. I was ready to settle in for the duration but Geoff had other ideas, so after a perfect crab starter and glass of wine, we decamped to the very different experience of Duck Soup just a trot away down Dean Street.
It is sparse to say the least and not really very comfy. However the three of us were in gung-ho mood having escaped more sensible weekend duties and were prepared to enjoy everything. First off this place is about wine, specialising in natural wines. The “menu” in keeping with the spartan surroundings was hand written on what looked like a bit of foolscap paper ripped from an exercise book. Difficult if your eyesight isn't great. However the dishes on offer looked like our sort of food; on trend, unfussy and seasonal. We only sampled three of the dishes as Geoff had by now decided we also needed to visit Chinatown for some dim sum. The courgette flowers were perfect, the clams were plentiful and our third dish of pickled herrings with broad bean, lemon and dill was gobbled enthusiastically by George. The broad beans turned out to be a bean version of hummus which seems to be on the menus of many trendy restaurants at the moment. We stayed just long enough to chat to owner Rory McCoy about the non-hangover credentials of natural wines, before pressing onto yet another lunchtime venue. Rory was charming and has previously worked at Mark Hix and clearly knows all about wine. Another quirk of the place is the LP player perched precariously on a shelf near the front door. The food is well executed and reasonable with good size portions. Since the menu changes daily I am sure we'll be back to sample some more tasty morsels. However it does have the air of a pop-up about it and I am not sure that it is everyone's cup of tea. I have heard tales of people having to queue to get a seat during the week so if you fancy trying it, pick your time carefully.
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