Posh Lunch Club: Quo Vadis
Posh Lunch Club this week was slightly hampered. It was preceded by an intense mozarella session, a promised tasting, but in the end, a wolf in sheeps clothing. Instead of the expected tasting,we were presented with an online conference where over 20 countries indulged in lengthy cheese chatter while we watched in rows, asking questions like how the locals enjoyed mozarella in Madrid. Moldova, how about you? Do Moldovans enjoy mozarella? There’s no doubting it, from Madrid to Moldova, they love the mozarella. I do too, but I don’t need constant affirmation of the fact via a web conference.
Eventually it ended and there was an opportunity to try some. Starved and slightly stressed following the monstrous and unexpected cheesey conference, I wolfed some down before running to Soho to meet Helen (World Foodie Guide) at Quo Vadis.
Quo Vadis is owned by Sam and Eddie Hart, who also own the acclaimed Fino & Barrafina. They recently restored and reopened the Soho stalwart, a restaurant originally opened in 1926, it to its former glory. It was a pleasure to see both Hart brothers manning the floor attentively, rarely do you see retaurateurs with several restaurants so involved.
The restaurant is a bright airy room, with lots of business clientele. Understated, yet elegant, furnished simply but to a high standard. I spied Helen, patient and smiling as ever, at a softly lit corner table, perusing the menu. There was a very generous three choices for each of three courses, very well priced at £17.50 for two courses or £19.50 for three courses. There is also a cover charge to include homemade sourdough bread and unlimited eau de vie still or sparkling filtered water for £2 per person.
Flooded with adrenaline, and hot on the heels of my quick cheesey snack, I viewed the menu. I went with the ham hock terrine to start. It was very good, with a mustard flecked jelly holding large chunks of salty hock together, but I think I prefer the lighter style that I had at Arbutus the previous week. It was too heavy and sturdy for me, and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. This could of course have been down to the quick scoffing of the mozarella. I could see that I would enjoy this as an independent bite, but not as a course in a 3 course meal. It was too big. Helen had the brown shrimp on sourdough which she really enjoyed and found the perfect size for a starter.
For mains, I had confit halibut with capers and leek vinaigrette. Confit fish is gracing several menus at the moment, and I was looking forward to checking it out. It was a stellar main, deceptively simple and perfectly executed. The confit halibut was tender, with the appearance of cooked egg white, and fantastically delicate both in flavour and texture. The caper and leek vinaigrette was a perfect accompaniment, soft and piquant, and a great partner to each forkful of fish. A crisp and buttery fish skin lay atop, like a thin slice of crisp buttery toffee. It was perfect, I adored every mouthful.
Helen ordered the crisp pork belly, with jerusalem artichoke and apple sauce. I had to have a taste and found it gorgeous and tender, with flesh that pulled with the lightest touch of a fork. Exactly as I like it to be, a succulent slow roast with great crispy crackling.
On the a la carte menu, the starters are £8, and the mains £19.50, so this really is a fantastic bargain, and a great way to sample the restaurants offerings. Despite my issues with the terrine, overall it really impressed and I’ll certainly be going again. The set menu is available for reservations between 12 and 2.30pm and 5.30pm and 6pm. Give it a try, I don’t think you will regret it.