Friday, 7 September 2012

Duck Soup: Aloof, but Still Good

Duck Soup is a good restaurant. It is typically Soho-esque, the food is simple and good and it's in a great location. I walked past a few times and I noticed it hasn't been so busy, and it's not being talked about as much. But perhaps it's just full a normal amount after the initial flurry of interest. A restaurant doesn't need huge queues every night to be a success. Still though, it would be nice to see it a little busier sometimes. They're not very active on social media but perhaps that's the way they want to keep it.

I hadn't been to Duck Soup since it opened so when I took a visiting friend to dinner, it seemed like a good place to revisit and to show her a bit of Soho.

Queues. After standing behind two people who it transpired were having a conversation in the doorway and not queuing at all for five minutes, we got a seat straight away. It remained moderately busy all night.

Service. Our assigned waiter, whilst being polite, had a rather brusque manner about him, (crescendoing by his huffily clearing away not our empty plates but our napkins).

Wine. We asked for the 'house white' (read: the cheapest wine. Payday is not yet in reach). He replied, 'They're kind of all our house whites.' He recommended one that was 'just a couple of pounds more' for something that would be 'better suited' to us (somewhat patronisingly). We agreed because despite the cheeky upsell, the £25 bottle sounded a bit too complicated for our unsophisticated palates (though surely the cheapest wine should be accessible, right? Maybe it's a natural wine thing, as Duck Soup provides itself on having an all-natural wines menu). Anyway, it was nice wine, and for £30 (I balked) I would hope so.

Bread. They've obviously taken note of people complaining about the two weedy pieces of sourdough they gave me last time because there was a decent-size portion. I still can't quite agree with restaurants charging for bread, though. It's mean and it's the kind of thing you can get from a similar place (such as 10 Greek Street) and you're given automatically.*

Figs with Lardo & mozzarella

Food. The food was good. High points included the mozzarella, lardo and figs. It was deliciously sweet, salty and soft at the same time. I could have eaten dozens. They also didn't skimp on size of salami slices, which were what salami should be, complete with big fatty bits throughout. The low point was the shallots, goat's cheese and mint. The cheese overpowered the shallot and the toast was a bit more burned than I'd like. The dessert was a greengage tart with various spices, which was ok. Nothing to write home about.

Seating & decor. I actually preferred sitting at the bar, because you could see what was going on, and it didn't feel like you were boxed off next to the wall (though my clumsy dining companion continually elbowed her neighbour due to lack of space). It's a tiny, tiny space but it works (if you're small. If you have pointy elbows or long legs, you won't enjoy it as much). It's got the classic Soho exposed lightbulbs and it's shabby chic. It works. My visiting friend commented (without irony) 'Their wine list is on tiles! That's so different!' I envied her for not knowing any different.

So instead of saturating the new restaurants (you'll have to queue, or book 3 months in advance anyway and they really don't need the business), visit restaurants like Duck Soup which had a flurry of excitement which has now quietened down considerably. Because they're still good. It's just the Twitterati have stopped talking about them so much. But I'll continue to go back there.

A sample of the day's menu

Ducksoup on Urbanspoon Square Meal

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