Dinner at Quo Vadis, Soho

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Quo Vadis has been on my (extremely long) to-eat-list for quite a while and last weekend I finally got the opportunity to go there. My friend from home, Linus, was visiting and as he happened to have two colleagues in town we thought we’d meet up for dinner somewhere central and my friend Laura was up for coming along too.

We met at Soho diner for a few drinks before our dinner and it was so warm we could sit outside.

As we had quite a late dinner we decided to go for both starters and mains and I just had to have the baked salsify I’ve seen Simon Hopkinson rave about on TV. They were gorgeous; crispy on the outside, not too soft on the inside and tasted absolutely lovely with the grated parmesan.

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Our waiter thought one portion of the salsify was not enough as a starter so I had another snack, the duck rillette which was nice too.

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Louise had exactly the same starter as I and Linus and Jacob both had the spinach and Alexanders (a new acquaintance for us all) soup. Laura had the squid above and was pretty much in food heaven she said.

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Jacob and Laura both had the salt cod with soft boiled egg, anchovies and salad which they really enjoyed.

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Louise and Linus had the onglet with horseradish and pickled walnut (it’s hiding behind the horseradish) and some roast potatoes and steamed vegetables to share. photo 42

I had probably the healthiest maincourse I’ve ever had. Brill in a vegetable broth with mussels, broadbeans and leek. I really enjoyed it but when I read it on the menu I actually expected more of a creamy broth.

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Somehow we all managed pudding as well. Laura and Jacob had the same again; poached pear and winter fruits with Jersey cream which was quite heavy but nice.

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Louise, Linus and I all had the crème brulee and it was a very good version. The custard was not too sweet and quite runny and velvety.

Quo Vadis, 26-29 Dean Street, London W1D 3LL

Dinner at Mele e Pere, Soho (revisited)

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Mele e Pere in the midst of vibrant Soho (we saw two people getting arrested just after dinner) is a real gem. It’s very relaxed, usually crowded and they have prosecco on tap!

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I had dinner with my ex-flatmate Nick here a few weeks ago and since we were both starving after a hard day at he office we started with a few things to share and then moved on to a pasta dish each. To share we had a bread basket (with lovely focaccia), sweet green olives, calamari with smoky mayo and a parmigiana with pesto and rocket. All very tasty!

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Nick had a large portion of their beef ragù to finish and it was very proper. I’m sure it had been cooked for several hours.

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I chose probably the richest pasta dish in the universe but it was utterly amazing. Fluffy pillows of gnocchi with a very buttery sauce and shavings of black truffle. So lush!

Mele e Pere, 46 Brewer St, London W1F 9TF

Lunch at Flat Iron, Soho

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I love the rustle and bustle in Soho and that there is such an eclectic mix of restaurants. A new-ish restaurant I tried a couple of weeks ago has a very limited menu but offers, as the name suggests, flatiron steak. One of my favourite cuts; quite grainy fibers but very tender meat.

Like a lot of Soho’s restaurant, this is a first come, first serve type place with no table reservations. Arriving in the middle of the lunch rush we were lucky to nab the last two seats at one of the communal tables.

As soon as we sat down water and a bowl of popcorn appeared at the table. Awesome!

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The menu is sparse with only the flatiron steak and sides or today’s special; a slowcooked beef stew. My colleague and I both went for the steak, cooked medium-rare as suggested by the waitress with chips, bearnaise sauce and a side of creamed spinach to share.

The steak was really nice and the chips crispy. The bearnaise sauce (which I am extremely picky with) got my approval, although it had a tad too much vinegar in it.

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I really like this place. It’s unpretentious and what you see is what you get. And the food is well-prepared, very tasty and not expensive at all. It makes perfect sense to start this type of restaurant in recession. Good steak restaurants in London are, let’s face it, quite expensive and so many places offers very disappointing steak although for a better price.

To instead specialize in just one cut (but a great and affordable one) to keep the costs down is in my opinion, brilliant.

Flat Iron, 17 Beak St, Soho, London W1F 9RW

Dinner at Randall & Aubin, Soho

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London has plenty of cosy restaurants and one is certainly Randall & Aubin, bang in the middle of bustling Soho.

Randall & Aubin is a French brasserie with a lot of seafood on the menu. It is relaxed yet still a little bit decadent with oysters and shellfish plateaus on the menu. It is first come first served and usually packed with people, but if you get here around 6pm you usually don’t have to wait too long. Alternatively show up for a late supper when the crowd has petered out.

I came here with a group of girls celebrating an engagement. Luckily we got a table straight away and had a relaxed supper with a few bottles of cava, some nibbles and a main course each.

The photo above shows how hungry we all were; reaching out for the food as soon as it was placed on the table. That’s my girls! :)  We shared a half pint of shell-on prawns to peel and dip in mayo (that’s how we do it in Sweden too) and a few servings of their zucchini frites with basil mayo that are a-ma-zing!

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Gaby and I were seduced by the specials on the black board and both thoroughly enjoyed the lobster roll in broiche with skinny frites. So fresh and juicy!

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Laura chose the bouillabaisse traditionally served with croûtons and rouille.

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And Jenny had the crab and lemon risotto that looked fab, although the portion was rather small…

We had a great evening here with wine, good food and plenty of fun chat. It is quiet enough to be able to carry a conversation but still bustling enough inside to remind you that you’re in Soho. I would recommend Randall and Aubin for a date, dinner with other couples or just a group of friends.

Randall & Aubin, 14-16 Brewer Street, London W1F 0SG

(Birthday)Dinner at Mele e Pere, Soho

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I wanted to celebrate my birthday with my girls around nice but unpretentious food just having a good time. And Mele e Pere offered just that. And  they had decent prosecco on tap! Amazing!

One of my friends can’t eat wheat and the staff were really sweet trying to amend the dishes to suit her.

We started off with some prosecco and rosé at a table in the bar before sitting down in the restaurant sharing lots of starters.

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We had two burratas (one with a tomato sauce containing bread and one with just cherry tomatoes and olive oil), ricotta with peas and broad beans, octopus scewer with potatoes, melon and San Daniele ham, vitello tonnao and gnocchi with speck and parmesan.

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Octopus scewer with potato and a lovely purée

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Ricotta with peas and broad beans

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Min plate with all the different dishes

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After all that we were quite happy to order small portions of our mains, which were just the right size. The different take on spaghetti carbonara with ravioli (above) looked delicious and I can’t wait to try that next time.

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This time I had the lobster risotto which was amazing too! Absolutely loved it!

I really enjoyed our dinner here. It was quite spacious so you could just sit and talk about whatever without feeling like the table next to you can hear every word. The staff was friendly, utterly helpful and efficient and the atmosphere is laid back and relaxed. Can’t wait to go back. Soon. Very soon.

46 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 9TF

Dinner at Copita, Soho

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I met my friends Laura and Jess at Copita in Soho the other night for a belated birthday dinner. Sadly Jess was unwell and only had bread while Laura and I shared a selection of dishes.

Copita is a sister restauran to Barrica and although they both serve tapas style small plates, the vibe in the two restaurants are quite different. Copita is more buzzing and feels like a wine bar with very nice snacks where as Barrica has some proper tables and serves more traditional tapas, making it feel more like a restaurant.

I like both, however and food wise they are quite different to compare as their menus differ a lot.

The scallops (above) with broad beans and a creamy sauce were probably my favourite dish of the evening. Very pretty too, but just lovely in taste.

 

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Almost as nice were the mushroom croquetas with oozing mushroom bechamel in the middle and a nice and crisp shell keeping it in place.

 

 

 

 

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The aubergine with harissa and mint was nice, but not extraordinary.

 

 

 

 

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The octopus with paella style rice I really enjoyed but it was pretty sparse with the fish.

 

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Gnocchi with saffron, butternut squash and almonds was a nice and fresh dish, although I wanted another dimension with different textures. The almond slivers didn’t quite to the trick, maybe some crisp breadcrumbs or chopped hazelnuts would have worked butter. Otherwise great in flavour!

 

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The duck breast with beetroots, apple and raisins was probably my least favourite, but only because I have a fobia for raisins in food so I couldn’t fully enjoy it. The meat was lovely and rich in flavour though and super moist and the thin apple slices worked well with it.

Drink wise I was really tempted by a proper G&T with Hendrick’s gin, but we decided on wine instead and had a caraffe of what they called super fresh, which we thought was quite funny. It was indeed a fresh wine and it worked well with the different dishes.

Copita, 26-27 d’Arblay Street, London W1F 8EP

Gelupo Gelato, Soho

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Across the road from Bocca di Lupo is Gelupo Gelato, a gelateria from the team behind the restaurant.

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The interior is cosy and feels a bit Mediterranean with white wooden floors and simple decor.

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And the ice cream?! Absolutely wonderful! I tried the pistachio ice cream which was divine tasting and a luscious green in colour. But the salt caramel ice cream with pecans was even better – just extraordinarily tasty! I could see myself trying every flavour and loving them all (well, maybe except for my nemesis the coconut).

Gelupo Gelato, 7 Archer Street, London W1D 7AU

Lunch at Bocca di Lupo, Soho

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My colleague Caroline and I can talk about restaurants for hours and during once such conversation we realised that a) neither of us had been to Bocca di Lupo and b) that we were both dying to go. So we pencilled in a lunch and went last week.

Bocca di Lupo is a well known Italian restaurant in Soho with its own gelato place across the road. The chef patron Jacob Kenedy is also the author of my pasta bible; The Geometry of Pasta. It is a mystery why I haven’t been here before. And after this fabulous lunch I realised how much I have been missing out by not going, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I start going all the time now to make up for not going in the past…

The menu is quite extensive and I could literally eat everything on it, but in the end we managed to settle for a great spread. As well as a short description of each dish the menu also features the region of origin for the dish, which I thought very interesting.

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We started off with some bread of course, and lovely buttery olives. The foccacia with caramelised onions was my favourite.

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The raw Sicilian red prawns were lovely and sweet and flavoured lightly with orange zest. Absolutely gorgeous! And the portion was very generous too.

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I can never resist stuffed courgette flowers and these with mozzarella and anchovies was an utter delight. Crisp on the outside and not too gooey on the inside with lovely robust flavours.

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Thinly sliced courgette with chilli, garlic and parsley was a fresh addition. Hotter than expected but full of flavour.

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Barbecued lamb sweetbreads and artichoke with olive oil and lemon was also amazing. The sweetbreads were tender and melt-in-the-mouth delicious and the artichokes made a great contrast with its charred flavours.

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Another lovely dish was the linguine with dark crab meat and tomato. It was creamy yet light and absolutely divine.

I was really impressed with Bocca di Lupo; the food was excellent, the staff friendly and efficient and the atmosphere great and bustling.

Bocca di Lupo, 12 Archer Street, London W1D 7BB

Lunch at Bone Daddies Ramen Bar, Soho

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Last week I dragged my colleague Max through Soho to try Bone Daddies Ramen Bar. We try to go out for lunch at least once a month and try different places within walking distance to the office as there is so many nice places all around us. The benefit of working in Central London.

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On a small Soho side street, not far from the gay bars, you find this little Japanese ramen bar. Max immediately commented on the vibe of the place, and it is a bit hipster with a cool wall painting, loud music, tables with stools and a young crowd, but you still don’t feel out of place if you’re not hipster (like us).

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The menu is quite sparse with just a few snacks to share and different types of ramen, but I like when a place does that; focus on perfecting a few dishes instead of having a sprawling menu.

We shared two of the snacks. Amazing soft shell crab with a lovely tangy dip and fried chicken that was even better. The chicken was crisp on the outside without a hint of grease and utterly succulent and tender in the middle. Divine!

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I had the tonkotsu ramen as my main and received a huge bowl of pork broth with noodles, bamboo, pork meat, tea stained eggs with amazing creamy yolk and peanuts. One part of the bowl had the nuts and the other side the fried pork mince so you got two very different flavours in the same bowl – loved that. And the eggs were stunning with the utterly creamy yolk. It was incredibly rich though, and I could barely finish half the bowl.

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Max’s tantanmen, also with pork was a lot milder in flavour and not as filling, so I have to try that next time. It was also served with the amazing eggs, spring onion and fried onion. bd2

With homemade soft serve icecream there is no need for any other puds. This one with yuzu was delicious after the warm (and in my case; spicy) noodles.

Bone Daddies Ramen Bar, 31 Peter Street, London W1F 0AR

Pierre Victoire, Soho

I seem to hang out a lot in Soho at the moment, and on Saturday I found myself there once again. This time I met up with Laura for an early supper at the French bistro, Pierre Victorie, on Dean Street.

This is a restaurant that I kind of liked, but it could be so much better if just the waiting staff were nicer. The food is hearty and well cooked and the prices are very reasonable (read cheap) and yet as a costumer you are not exactly blown away. And the reason for that is merely the staff. We were asked if we were ready to order by 4 different staff members in less than 4 minutes. That’s just stressy.

After enough interruptions we were ready to order and the food arrived efficiently.

Both of us went for soup as a starter, above is Laura’s French onion soup that was really good. Below is my potato and leek soup. It was nice and rustic and almost tasted homemade.

I went for a simple steak frites with garlic and herb butter and although it wasn’t very expensive, the steak was good quality and perfectly cooked. The fries on the other hand were a bit too pale and therefore less crunchy. A shame since it is so easily fixed with a few minutes more in the fryer.

Laura’s seabass with potatoes, fennel and gremolata looked beautiful and she thoroughly enjoyed it.

So there was defintiely noting wrong with the food (apart from the pale fries), but once we finished eating and wanted to sit for a few more minutes the staff resumed to being rude and it felt like they were kicking us out only so they could relay the table and make more money. But that is not the way a costumer wants to be treated, regardless of the quality of the food. A real shame.

Pierre Victoire
5 Dean Street
London
W1D 3RQ