Quo Vadis

British·
££££
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Bronze Award
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SquareMeal Review of Quo Vadis

Bronze Award

Founded back in 1926, this quintessential Soho sanctuary has been a stalwart of Soho’s bohemian frivolity for nearly a century, hosting everything from drinks parties to raucous banquets along the way.

Quo Vadis isn’t drifting quietly into old age, far from it in fact; a 2023 refurb has given the restaurant a new lease of life, doubling the size of the dining room and brightening the old brown-leather banquettes to a rather more fetching ruby red. Still, this isn’t a total reinvention of a classic - QV still has all the cosy, wood-panelled charm as in previous years, and the jewel-like stained glass windows remain too, though they’ve been lightened a touch. Perhaps most importantly of all, the exuberant Jeremy Lee remains steadfastly behind the stoves, gently ushering lovely plates into the dining room.

Lee’s cooking has always been a joyful celebration of the seasons, and it’s no different now as it ever was. Our meal starts in time-honoured QV tradition with oysters and mignonette, crisp salsify batons loaded with an indulgent pile of Parmesan, and the famous smoked eel and horseradish sandwich - built with generosity rather than stability in mind with four big, meaty chunks of eel balanced precariously inside.

There’s so much more to appreciate on the menu as well. Beautifully-cooked guinea fowl arrives with juices dripping onto a bed of polenta, which itself has both fluffy innards and a lovely crisp exterior. We were also rather enamoured by a salad of cuttlefish, fennel, monksbeard and three-cornered leek, which sounds innocuous on paper, but came together in perfect harmony thanks to meaty, tender cuttlefish and a nice hit of black pepper, made all the better by a glass of buttery Chardonnay.

Any gripes were minor, limited to a touch of overseasoning here and there. All is forgotten when a piece of lemon tart arrives with a spoon of creme fraiche on the side. Sweet, sharp and with a pleasing density and bronzed pastry casing, it’s an ideal end to proceedings. The surroundings may be new, but Quo Vadis is still a slice of old-school Soho that everyone should experience.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Cuisines
British
Ambience
Cosy, Quiet conversation, Romantic, Traditional
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Alfresco And Views
Outside seating, Terrace
Special Features
Vegan options, Vegetarian options
People
Dates, Romantic, Special occasions

About

Once a brothel and a home to Karl Marx (though not at the same time), no restaurant embodies the frivolity of Soho quite like Quo Vadis. The restaurant has passed through various hands over the years - it was run in partnership by Marco Pierre White and Damien Hirst up until 2007, but since then has been under the watchful gaze of Sam and Eddie Hart, the brothers behind the phenomenally successful Barrafina restaurants, among others. 

One of the Hart Brothers' first moves was to bring in Jeremy Lee as head chef and in doing so, they kick-started a new era for the restaurant that has put it back on the map as one of London's most essential visits. Lee had built a reputation for pared-back British cooking at The Blueprint Cafe, and breathed new life into Quo Vadis with his rustic, generously-portioned British classics. Quo Vadis was right at the heart of an era where London fell back in love with classic British cooking. 

The old restaurant safekeeps a great deal of history, but it is bright and spacious with windows that look onto Dean Street and plush leather banquettes that remain comfortable for well over a two hour sitting. The restaurant is open to the public, but Quo Vadis has long been a private members club too, and you'll also find two bars and a litany of nooks and crannies hidden away in its labyrinthine passageways. 

The menu is seasonal, and sticks largely to great British and Mediterranean produce. Gentle, rustic dishes like rabbit with lardo, mustard, girolles, parsley and garlic, and griddled ox tongue with carrot, pumpkin beetroot and horseradish come and go on the menu alongside old favourites - Lee's famous smoked eel sandwich (served with plenty of fresh horseradish and pickled red onion) is always on the menu, as is a pie of the day. Cocktails are also excellent - Quo Vadis makes a famous negroni but arrive early to take advantage of a fantastic aperitivo selection.


FAQs

What does 'Quo Vadis' mean?

'Quo vadis' translates to 'Where are you going?'.

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Can I book a table?

Yes, we strongly recommend booking, which can be completed online or via phone.

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Does it offer vegetarian options?

Yes, Quo Vadis offers a range of vegetarian options.

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Location

26-29 Dean Street, Soho, London, W1D 3LL

020 7437 9585 020 7437 9585

Website

Opening Times

Lunch
Mon Closed
Tue 12:00-14:30
Wed 12:00-14:30
Thu 12:00-14:30
Fri 12:00-14:30
Sat 12:00-14:30
Sun Closed
Dinner
Mon Closed
Tue 17:30-22:00
Wed 17:30-22:00
Thu 17:30-22:00
Fri 17:30-22:00
Sat 17:30-22:00
Sun Closed

Reviews

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24 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Stephen O

03 January 2023  
Food & Drink 4.5
Service 4.5
Atmosphere 4.5
Value 4.5

A classic that will only be improved with the planned renovations.

Simon R

04 May 2017  
Eccentric but excellent menu - eccentric but excellent service. We always enjoy the visit.

Lynn W

23 February 2016  
Food & Drink 4
Service 4
Atmosphere 5
Value 4
Soho sanctuary
It's heaving in Soho on a Saturday evening, but step in here and all is calm and welcoming. The place is bigger than it looks with several interconnecting rooms but the beautiful flowers, mirrors and through-views keep it all together. The menu is quite brief, but there are plenty of things you want to eat. I had grilled squid with blood orange and fennel - the bitter orange making a nice foil for the fish with crunchy breadcrumbs sprinkled over. We expected our other starter of chickpea, artichoke and spinach to be a type of salad, but it turned out to be a pot of layered purees, good with the crisp baked flatbread that came with it. We both had cured salmon with a vibrant green herb sauce that arrived with a little pot of cucumber in mustard dill sauce as well, the salmon slowly cooked until soft and barely beyond translucent. Sides of pink fir potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli worked well with the sauces. Then we were off to see a comedy show so no time for dessert, but we'd had plenty. There's a lively atmosphere and quite a turnover on tables but it's all managed very well. Recommended.

Paul F

24 October 2014  
Food & Drink 5
Service 4.5
Atmosphere 5
Value 4.5
One of my favourites
This has become one of my favourite restaurants because it does everything well. The food is the sort of thing you wish you could make at home; relatively unfussy but immaculately prepared with first class ingredients, typified by one dish we had, the mackerel. Very fresh (which this fish in particular has to be), simply, but perfectly cooked. Cooking fish looks easy but to get it spot on is a skill. The building makes for a great dining space and the staff are well chosen. Very friendly, knowledgeable and engaging but efficient at the same time. The menu is limited but that is this place's modus operandi, so if you want a choice of 30 or 40 dishes go elsewhere, and it does change at least once a day. Considering how popular this restaurant is and where it's located, the prices are very reasonable. Clearly some people have had a few disappointing experiences but all I can say is that I haven't. I'll be back shortly for the fourth time in the past few months.

Roland S

08 August 2014  
Food & Drink 4
Service 5
Atmosphere 4.5
Value 4.5
We took my mother to Quo Vadis for a birthday dinner last night and, after informing the staff of the occasion, they pulled out all the stops on making it a special night. A couple of generous complimentary items, together with the excellent and friendly service, provided a master class in front of house skills. The food was reliably excellent and staff were able to knowledgably discuss the provenance of both the ingredients and our wine choice. A delightful venue to celebrate a special occasion.

gowsia H

10 May 2014  
Food & Drink 5
Service 4.5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5
Busy place and attentive service. Lamb sweetbread was delicious!

Alice G

10 March 2014  
Food & Drink 3
Service 1.5
Atmosphere 2
Value 2
It started with our white wine order; the waitress told us it wasn't very chilled so she would leave it in the ice bucket for a bit, there was no offer to find an alternative bottle despite our complaints. One member of our party ordered a steak asked for it to be cooked medium to well done (she was pregnant), the waitress instantly turned her nose up and said that was not the way it should be cooked ! We kept having to get up throughout the meal to find a waiter/ waitress to order more wine, we waited a good 15 minutes for a new bottle to arrive at one point. Overall the food was tasty but overpriced, the service poor, the atmosphere was a bit fussy and it was very bright in the restaurant so not good if you are on a date! We did not pay the service charge but in hindsight we should have complained at the beginning of the meal when we had the wine problems.

14 February 2014  
Food & Drink 4
Service 4
Atmosphere 5
Value 3.5
We ordered the Theatre set meal, which had a couple of choices on each course. All courses were tasty: crab soup, lamb, almond tart and very well presented. Service was very good: there when wanted but not fussing around. Art deco interior is attractive although a bit baffling when you're trying to find the loo surrounded by mirrors!

Jo B

23 September 2013  
Food & Drink 4
Service 3
Atmosphere 4
Value 4
Great Soho Restaurant
Although the menu and service seem to have changed since our last visit we had a lovely evening at Quo Vadis. I found the menu a bit restrictive – would have loved another choice of fish on the menu. But, what we had was great. There's a lovely buzz to the restaurant although the waiting staff seemed a little stretched.

Rich M

05 July 2013  
Food & Drink 3.5
Service 3.5
Atmosphere 3
Value 3.5
My, haven't you aged well?
It's been a while now since new chef Jeremy Lee took over at Soho institution Quo Vadis, and even longer since the Hart brothers refurbishment that brought it back onto foodie radars after a decade of sliding standards. The space gives the impression of being bigger than it is. Room after room of fresh, clean and chic off-whites and brasses open up as you penetrate deeper while thick white table linens mute the noise from tightly packed neighbours, the majority of them the loud and jolly old boys of the advertising type I thought had abandoned Soho altogether. The little touches from the staff are delicately assured. There's still or sparkling filtered water, a banter if you need, an efficiency of clear and serve if you're obviously otherwise engaged and an eye for attention matched by some of the seasonal dishes on the well turned out rustic menu. And it's from that short menu that we grab a short but perfectly formed lunch. I wistfully but worthily skirt a chicken and guinea fowl pie, but suffer agonies when it turns up centimetres away on the neighbouring table, huge and gleaming, its buttery smell wafting over the slim divide between the tables. I'm also deeply envious of a huge hunk of bleeding ruby hued onglet steak that arrives next to it, served up with golden railway sleeper-like triple cooked chips. Thankfully, I get to sample some of those chips with one of the other substantial mains on offer. Coqulet isn't a bird you often see on restaurant menus. In these days of tightly managed animal husbandry too few young roosters, like their bovine equivalents, get out of early infancy. This one made a great case for them to hit more tables though. A hefty half bird was served simply roasted, with gloriously garlicky herb butter squashed into every crevice. Packed with taste, soft, supple and meaty, the bird is more than a match for its stuffing. Alongside that, there were two simple but effective fishy salads, both ostensibly starters, that worked well to create a combined main course. Young garlic shoots, crushed olives, peas and mint came together well, though the mint was a little overpowering. Beautifully cooked squid with asparagus was much better, a lovely mix of flavours and textures. It's an accomplished restaurant experience, as you'd expect from two of the capital's more accomplished restaurateurs, and has a quirky but polished charm that should ensure it retains its place near the top of the London dining pile this time round.
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020 7437 9585 020 7437 9585

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