A fair few years ago, I was taken to a little bar come restaurant by the name of Bar du Marché (I believe). Fresh off the plane after a tour of Afghanistan, one of my oldest friends was prepping himself to do what he did best, drink and meet women. First stop, lubrication with me in tow. We walked in and the tiny place centred around a large wooden bar lined with stools, with seemingly fancy men and women sloshing back wine and pecking at food. Suffice to say, what transpired next is not entirely relevant (and probably appropriate for this blog) but when I walked into Duck Soup, I couldn’t help but draw a few parallels. Firstly, the small room is dominated once again by that central wooden bar, stretching almost the entire length of the restaurant. People casually chatting, drinking and eating, the atmosphere is laid back and jovial. As the years have passed, my focus has been less on debauchery and more on getting fed well, and even though they have a pretty decent looking wine selection scrawled on the tiles, I veer towards a fresh cocktail of fresh apple, quince and vodka. Tart yet sweet and very appropriate for the recent sunny weather.
The food selection of the day is carefully hand written on individual pieces of cardboard, clearly not by someone who has spent the last 10 years agnostic to the belief that a pen rules a keyboard. Split into groups ascending in price, we sit and chat, enveloped in the laidback atmosphere and almost forgetting that we are here for food. The menu is assembled daily and so much appeals that we struggle to reach a compromise on what we can and can’t have, but I reckon you would struggle to pick a bad meal should you just close your eyes and pick randomly.
So much of what we eat is comforting, straightforward and lovely. The quail is cooked perfectly, with juicy flesh and crispy skin, and if you throw in the piquant yoghurt blob and burnt lemon, it all goes very nicely together. Chipirones, or deep fried baby squids, are crunchy and aggressively yet not unpleasantly seasoned. A wonderful little bit of food to keep you going.
The main event was a large bowl of unctuous hare ragu tagliatelle. Hare has on occasion been rather too gamy for me, and after my initial taste, I was a little sceptical if I was enjoying this. But what surprised me is that I kept on going and each mouthful of springy pasta mingling with delightfully rich hare ragu was definitely growing on me. By the end of the bowl, I was struggling hard to offer up the last few scraps to my companion.
There were a few bum notes, such as a rather drab onion and ricotta dish, but I was on the whole rather surprised. With the main doors opened out to welcome in the springtime sun, I couldn’t think of anywhere I would have rather spent my dinner time. There will of course be comparisons with 10 Greek Street a mere 2 streets away, after all, the ethic and the food are very similar in both establishments, but Duck Soup comes out on top for me. Not only did I enjoy the food more, but my clothes weren’t even tarnished with a suggestion of grease. I wandered off to Gelupo to make the most of our delightful evening. This is London after all, it might be pissing down tomorrow.
Duck Soup - 41 Dean Street, London W1D 4PY