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Quo Vadis (Restaurant, Club)

Picture of Quo Vadis in Soho, London

26-29 Dean Street, Soho, london, W1D 3LL
Cuisine: Italian
Tel: 020 7437 9585 | Email to Quo Vadis | Transport: Tottenham Court Road | Write review

Quo Vadis Review

There’s a girl grinning at me inanely as though it’s her birthday or something. Luckily for me, a sizable chunk of table lies between us. Luckily for her, she has friends like me to grin at when they take her out for her birthday.

And grin she should, because this is Quo Vadis, not only a massive scorer in a ‘loose rules’ version of Scrabble, but also the 37th best restaurant in London (oooh), according to Restaurant Magazine. AND it was ‘nominated’ for the Best New Bar Award by Class Magazine (who?). AND it won the 2009 London Restaurant Festival Award for Best Two-Course Festival Lunch Menu for £15 (snappy!). OK, these are entirely convincing accolades, but it is very popular with ViewLondon (what isn’t?!) and Tatler magazine. Basically, posh people love it, especially as the restaurant has QV embossed on all the plates.

There’s no denying QV produces several outstanding requiems of flavour, but before we launch ourselves into that delicious pool, there’s one niggling issue that needs red flagging: the decor.

History is interesting. History adds character. Without History, we’d be nothing. But it’s one thing to admire History, and another to remain stuck in it. The literal translation of ‘Quo Vadis’ is ‘Where are you going?’ This works quite nicely if “...with this interior design...” is slapped on as an addendum.

From the pooh brown softness of the couches, to the subdued caramel cream worn by the walls; from the scuffed-by-dignitaries parquet floor to the entirely ill-conditioned opus of mirror that usurps an entire wall: this is cosy, modern and chic (for 1980. Eeeuch!). If the riff-raff on Dean Street were to sneak a peak through the kaleidoscopic stained glass windows, half obscured by blinds that might as well be fallen awnings, they would witness a homage to traditionalism. Even the abstract modern art is dated. There’s no clever lighting, no garish colours, and certainly nothing pertaining to Tomorrow-ville’s sexiness. That said, Quo Vadis does have its own authentic revolving wooden entrance; always a feature to be proud of.

So, the food. Thank goodness for the food. The large menu is a slightly cluttered mélange of words - like braised, purée, and confit leading to much delightful indecisive chin-stroking. This is further complicated by the menu then changing daily, hourly and probably by the minute given the chance. Don’t be fooled into thinking a glimpse at the wine list will help to decide what to eat, either. It’s a wannabe sommelier’s bible, filled with verse after verse of transcendental enlightenment. Novice simpletons will take solace in the condensed ‘What We’re Drinking’ recommendations page, though, ranging from the low 20s (£s, not years) to the Zimbabwean inflation height of silly money. Thankfully, the leathery, cigar box aromas of the Domaine Leon Barral Faugères 2006 Grenache go well with almost everything. Thus pleasing the grinning girl.

The starters were magnificently presented. And quick. So darn quick the grinning girl didn’t really have time to discern any lasting flavours, apparently. Which could be interpreted as a sign of how good the scallops with pancetta and ox cheek really were. The whitebait, meanwhile, was plentiful, meaning the grinner had to wait.

No sooner had the plates disappeared when the mains came flying out the door, delivered by one of the small army of waitresses who were beating the waiters hands down thanks to their alacritous knowledge tickled by note of charm. The chaps just seemed to lurk, creep, and pour too often.

Although the pork belly looked diminutive amongst the fresh purple broccoli, the Jerusalem artichoke draping, and the potatoes too creamy for their own good, it was surprisingly filling. The more I ate, the more it delivered. And presentation was once again a highlight (separate pork scratching on top). The grinner mentioned something about a ‘large chunk of veal for a lady’ but I have to admit, I was too absorbed in my affair with the pork.

And then came the desserts, proving the evolvement of delectation. All that had come before was merely a precursor to the main event. Quo Vadis excels at desserts, and thankfully, we were given adamant amount of time to prepare ourselves. The crunchy layered caramel parfait and apple millefeuille was the pick of the bunch; perfectly weighted and reason enough to move to Soho.

This £120 quick-quick-slow ascent into happiness was punctuated by a disparity in ambience: whilst the candlelight was subdued, the clientele were certainly not. Considering there were only 30-odd conversing diners (and some were very odd indeed), they displayed a shameless gusto for listening to their own voices, which actually bought some much-needed spectacle to the room.

As we left, the grinning birthday girl offered a very poignant summary of Quo Vadis:

“I liked the massive book of wine, the large tables, the erudite and reserved English style of service, and I loved the fact that the menu had a modern British feel to it with things like rabbit, pigeon, grouse, and triple cooked chips.”

Overall, positively lovely. Surely the best restaurant in London beginning with the letter Q. more

Customer Reviews for Quo Vadis

Average (based on 4 votes): 4 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Quo Vadis.

“Good hearty english cuisine, amazing wine list and a cozy atmosphere - although little lost in 1980's glass work. Definitely a recommendation.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
alice, Tooting Bec (11 years 3 months 12 days ago)

“While the food was amazing - (i would certainly go back for the crab linguine which was divine and the chocolate fondant which was delish), the service was not. It's a pricey restaurant and for that i expect great food and even greater service. Apart from messing up my friend's main course by bringing the wrong dish out, the waiter decided to clean the table's crumbs straight onto our laps. why he did this we will never know as the restuarant clearly has one of those 'fancy'' crumb sweepers but he did and it annoyed us no end. The crowd is also a little stuffy which is a shame because the food is something i'd want to go back for.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
fluid, london (11 years 3 months 13 days ago)

“Considering the cost, the food is not completely out of this world amazing. However, the standard is still very high (especially recommend the pork belly). Good points: the fantastic service, the large tables, the buzzy atmosphere and the gargantuan wine list. Downside? the decor. WTF?!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Leigh, tooting (11 years 5 months 19 days ago)

Show all user reviews for Quo Vadis

“Actually, Karl Marx didn't write Das Capital here, he wrote it in 1 Modena Villa which has since been demolished. He wrote the Communist Party Manifesto here!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Big Stew, [ Unknown ] (17 years 1 months 3 days ago)

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