It was 7:15 on a Tuesday night. We arrived in town thinking we’d have our pick of places for dinner, but in the end we needed a big slice of luck to get into any of the places on our hit list (or should I say, pig list).
Our original plan was to pay a visit to Flat Iron, but dozens of people clearly had the same idea. After being told we’d have to wait in the bar for an hour and a half, we decided to look elsewhere. As we moved on though, we found that queues definitely weren’t limited to places serving £10 steak!
It was the same story at every notable place we passed; no room at the inn. Then we reached Ducksoup. Timing is the key to getting into these tiny, no-reservations places and this time we got massively lucky. No sooner had we stuck our head in the door, than were were shown through to a tiny table beside the bar. The decor is minimalist, it’s dimly lit and and a John Lee Hooker 12″ was playing in the background.
We ordered two small plates to start, followed by two large. The starters, quail with turmeric and fried red prawns were both delicious. The mention of turmeric on the menu made me assume that the quail would be spicy and curried, but there was really no reason to jump to that conclusion. It was perfectly cooked with juicy meat and a crispy skin and was a pleasure to eat with my hands. The accompanying garlic yoghurt (tasted like aioli) was a great addition, but it was really pungent, so maybe you should steer clear if you’re there on a first date.
The prawns smelled amazing and tasted of the sea, with a decent hint of spice from the chilli. We took off the heads and legs and ate the rest. The freshness and quality of the ingredients was clear.
For our main courses, we chose the pan fried duck breast with star anise and the seven hour lamb with chickpeas. The duck was served perfectly pink and succulent. It was well seasoned and the star anise gave it a distinct Asian flavour. We also went for a portion of boulangerie potatoes on the side and they were damn tasty! It’s little wonder that they sold out soon after we got our order in. You really do need to order a side or two with this, or it is quite literally just a plate of duck.
The 7 hour lamb had a real North African flavour; sweet, aromatic and well spiced. Although it wasn’t quite what we expected, I’d still give it a big thumbs up. The meat was fall-apart tender and it was a really well balanced dish. I was surprised to find two whole sticks of cinnamon in there, but it wasn’t overpowering. The Hog was a little perturbed by the fact that there were a few bone fragments lurking amongst the chickpeas, but we’ll forgive this as the food was great.
For dessert, we chose buttermilk pudding with rhubarb and a tiramisu. We weren’t sure what to expect from the buttermilk pudding, but were delighted when it came. It looked and tasted like a really good pannacota; not too set, not too sweet. The rhubarb batons did a great job of cutting through the richness and it was a very accomplished dessert. Likewise, the tiramisu was very enjoyable. The sweetness was well balanced, it was also soft, not too rich and not too boozy.
On the way home, we agreed that we were impressed by this little place and were glad we found our way there. Our only gripe was with the drink prices. Half a pint for £3.50 is pretty steep, even though the Vedett beer was really good. The cheapest bottle of wine was over £30 too and it was £5.80 for a small glass of house red. To be fair though, the food is reasonably priced, so we shouldn’t really complain and and the total bill represented good value.
We often spend a lot more than this and enjoy the food a lot less. If you’re in Soho looking for something tasty, stick your head in the door – you might get lucky too.
Three courses for two people including drinks approximately £87.
Address: 41 Dean St, London W1D 4PY
Phone: 020 7287 4599