When we “discovered” 10 Greek Street it was a minor revelation. Good food at very affordable prices, walking in from the street without booking – that works if you get your timing right! Someone once said that there are over 1,000 restaurants in Manhattan, so goodness knows how many there are in London and a great many of these are scattered around the streets of Soho. How do you choose? How do they ever make a living? What singles them out for better or worse? Well there’s this blog of course…but since it’s generally positive, that’s no guide to avoid the dodgy places and we haven’t got that much time, money and constitution to sample them all, even if we had the inclination. So we often rely upon reviews – Jay Rayner, Marina O’Loughlin…even Giles Coren if we must. We recently bought a friend Giles’s book “How to eat out”, which he ploughed through describing it as like Jeremy Clarkson talking about food – is that a recommendation? Probably not.
So flushed with anticipation we set out to try a restaurant from “the List” – a recommendation both from Marina, and from a local restauranteur for whom we have had respect for, well, forty years anyway. Duck Soup, your turn has come.
Wandering eagerly down Dean Street [home to the Pizza Express Jazz Club] we finally spy the place. Lots of restaurants here, mostly busy, some packed, local places and national names. We pause at L’eto, a branch of which we enjoyed in the Fulham Road. That one had no alcohol, this one only breakfast and cakes; no basis for a leisurely lunch. At first glance [and second and third] Duck Soup didn’t look inviting; a couple of blokes at the table in the window, and an electrician balanced on a pair of steps trying to feed some wiring through a hole. No-one else. A hand-written menu on the window that we could almost, but not quite, read. Mostly the space is taken up by the bar [and why not…ed]. Nice puns – “Duck Bills” where the bills hang waiting to be paid…
Finally inside – it was like negotiating the climate change treaty to get agreement to venture in and there was only two of us. We ordered a couple of glasses of wine, from a selection of two or three whites available by the glass. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised that the Pouilly Fumé on offer was the real thing, Unctious. Not some weedy re-badged sancerre. We could have had drinking vinegar. Local water, a couple of simple dishes – the chickpea dish of the day, and a pomegranate, fennel and labneh salad. Maybe a couple of coffees. £56, most of which was the wine. Now, this was a 50/50 success. One half would go back and back for the unusual and interesting organic [i.e. untreated?] wines. The other half would declare independence and go elsewhere. Take your pick.
Restaurant/wine bar Duck Soup Soho
Slightly cultish, perhaps, but it’s a cult that seems happy to welcome new members, young or old, ladies or gents. Or a little bit of both.