Ducksoup is a hip, relaxed, high-quality restaurant right in the heart of Soho. It came recommended to me by multiple friends, and after one dinner there, I can see why. We booked ahead via email just a few days before, and secured a spot at their upstairs dinner bar. The restaurant has just a few tables, so the majority of the dining takes place at the long bars on each of the two levels.
When entering Ducksoup, you feel like you are transported into another country. The place is a little bare, and kind of dingy, like a small restaurant in Thailand. The windows are caged, the walls are uneven with layers and layers of paint on top of mixed surfaces, the doors are peeling, the floor is stained. This raw shell of a restaurant is filled with a simple bar, basic tables and stools. It’s minimalist vibe is offset, though, by glowing globe pendants, a pop of color here and there, decorative wine bottle displays, and quirky wall hangings. It’s a trendy place, reminding me also of a NYC basement.
I was seated on the ground level, so I did not get to see the downstairs, but what I can attest to upstairs, the place is pretty cool. From the doorway, you look down the long bar. This leads to a private room on the left side, tucked away from everything. It looked like it could seat about six people, which would be perfect for a group birthday party or any other occasion. The right side led to the open kitchen. While waiting for the bathroom, you become mesmerized watching the automatic motions of line cooks stir, prep, plate, and garnish small plate after small plate. The kitchen staff, and the rest of the workers for that matter, all seem to fit with the Ducksoup look. Simple aprons and chef whites made interesting with some facial hair, tattoos, or blue-green dyed hair. The bartender or manager with Mandarin collars or shaggy hair hustle around, not missing a beat. Ducksoup is just a cool place to observe, whether its watching the inner-workings of the kitchen and staff, or the young, sceney patrons bellying up to the bar.
Now, let me tell you about the food and drink. We had wine to drink. I had a nice dry white, but my husband felt daring and opted for the “In Duck We Trust.” This menu item allows the bartender to serve you the surprise wine of the day, that will later come with a story about the wine’s origin. It was a cool concept, that added a little adventure to our meal. The real adventure, though, was embarking on the seven items we had ordered. I would definitely have to say we over-ordered, which was probably my only negative feedback I have for the place. The server painted the menu as having smaller plates, which turned out not to be the case. I thought each appetizer, side, and entree was a full size, if not larger than expected. They were all delicious, though, so worth the purchase (that I ended up partially taking home in foil because they did not have any to-go containers.)
Our journey begun with a nice bread and butter, the braised pork skin, and the charred artichokes. Everything was fresh, flavorful, and inventive. The pork skin dish was a hearty stew which was a perfect dip for the bread. The plates come out staggered, as they’re prepared from the kitchen. This is perhaps the only thing that resembled tapas-style dining at Ducksoup to me. The next plate to come out was my asparagus and crab soup, which was absolutely amazing. It was rich and turned creamy once the beautiful dollop of saffron aioli was swirled into it. The last of our plates then came, which included the chargrilled poussin, spinach and burnt garlic, and the dittalini. This translates to chicken, creamed spinach, and macaroni and cheese. Everything was great, but the spinach was one of the best sides I have ever tasted. I am definitely going to try to replicate the dish at home, and excited to have another use for the oversized can of tahini that’s been lingering in my fridge.
In conclusion, Ducksoup is great. We had a lovely experience, enjoyed our meals and the ambience, and will be back again. The entire evening was less than £100 for two. That itself is impressive for London. Head to Ducksoup and enjoy gourmet food at reasonable prices.
41 Dean Street
London W1D 4PY