Places To Eat In London: Ducksoup, Soho
I love new openings. They’re fresh and exciting, but sometimes you need to discover something new that has been doing fresh and exciting things for years. A friend who does restaurant PR (but not for this place) chose where we were meeting for lunch the other week, so I paid my first visit to Ducksoup in Soho. What followed was one of the most delicious and interesting meals I have had in a very long time, served in small plates made with the very best ingredients, made a little unusual by pairing them with the best of all natural wines.
In a city where restaurants are now designed for the benefit of Instagrammers it was refreshing how rough and ready the space was. We sat up at the bar, chose our drinks off of the walls and made our selections from the painstakingly hand written (and difficult to choose from) menus.
With our glasses of wine (they have a varied selection of by the glass orange wines which is unusual for, well, anywhere) we started with a delicious sourdough with a really good butter. And I’m saying this as someone who usually ignores any butter offered and eats my bread plain, and who won’t usually allow it in sandwiches.
The first plate that came out was one of my favourites (though all of our food was flawless) was the chanterelles served with buckwheat polenta and parmesan. So rich, so meaty, and we asked to keep the empty plate so we could mop up the rest of the juices on the plate with our sourdough. Also out of the starting gates we had this beautiful dish of shaved kohlrabi, crab, buttermilk, coriander and chilli. It was light, but also a bit rich and earthy, and the chilli gave it a wonderful kick at the end.
Something I don’t usually eat is lamb. This is well documented, but these delicate little lamb ribs, chargrilled and served with smoked ricotta, almonds and mint were perfect. So sweet, so succulent, and the light drizzle of olive oil, the cheese, the mint and the nuts all complimented each other, the meat, and stood out by themselves as bloody excellent ingredients. My date had already promised herself on a previous visit she’d order these again if they came up again, and now I know why.
Our final savoury plate is one I insisted on ordering: cuttlefish (a lesser loved favourite of mine which here was so tender it practically melted in my mouth – if you’re not careful it can get rubbery) served with roasted chickpeas (which were practically creamy, while still providing a bit of bite), rosemary and lardo, which had pretty much dissolved into delicious morsels clinging to the rest of the dish. This really shows how basic ingredients, thoughtful cooking techniques and unexpected pairings can really make a dish.
For our sweets we went for a slice of an excellent chocolate and stem ginger tart that was up on the counter (served with a dollop of creme fraiche – I now want stem ginger in everything chocolate I eat – and a plate of warm ricotta and fig parcels, drizzled with fragrant honey on a cloud of ricotta-enriched yogurt. A taste of Greece, these were a perfectly indulgent end to the meal.
Ducksoup was a special meal with some of the best and most skilled cooking I have had in a while, but it was also casual, informal. It was just a weekday catch up, late lunch with a friend, and is something you can do many, many times, rather than just saving it for special occasions. People were stopping in throughout our meal with the newspapers, just for a glass of wine. Ducksoup is also a rare neighbourhood joint in the middle of bustling Soho.