Having been out of the country for 3 months at the end of last year, I'm trying to catch up on all the new restaurant openings that I missed. I'm usually pretty lame where this is concerned and it takes me a while to get to such places but I did make it to Ducksoup in early Jan a mere 3 months after it opened, woo! Head chef Julian Biggs and his team met whilst working at Mark Hix's Oyster and Chop House and have joined forces and gone it alone.
Things I loved before I even got there, they post the handwritten menu online (almost) every day, they have a natural wine list drawn on on the wall and I was going with my friend Emily, who I'd not seen since June.
We got slightly carried away and ordered more than we could eat, starting with cavolo nero with lemon and chilli (£3.50), rabbit rillette with cornichons (£5) and potato and celeriac gratin (£3.50).
The greens were great, sprinkled with cumin and a really lovely start. The rabbit was good too, we were offered some bread to have with it but the gratin was overly runny with a lot of fairly flavourless stock.
Next dish to arrive was the roast turbot with salsify (£14). This was brilliant, the fish delicate and almost creamy against the crunchy salsify, all topped with guanciale, a pig cheek bacon. My favourite dish of the night.
Last up were the lentils with wild mushrooms and more cavelo nero and another favourite of the night, bollito misto, a sort of stew with brisket, toulouse sausage, tongue and cock (both £14)! The latter was served with braised shallots and came topped with a tangy gremolata which made the dish.
We were getting pretty full by this point and agreed we would order 1 less large plate next time. The lentils were unnecessary and forgettable.
We had a couple of cocktails each and paid just over £40 each, worth it, I think, as most dishes - lentils and gratin aside - were excellent. Bottled tap water comes at £1 a bottle. With no room for pud or cheese, we hit the road but I'm looking forward to my next visit, perhaps at lunch when they offer a main dish and a glass of wine for £12.
I really enjoyed the evening, the mostly bar style seating is relaxed and convivial, the guys working here are all friendly and helpful and the menu is interesting and constantly changing, depending on what's in season and in the fridges. We had no trouble getting a seat at 6:30ish on a Monday but it can get really busy so be wise and go early or late.
40 Dean St