Sort of Parisian, very Soho, Ducksoup is to formal fine dining what Cat Power is to Der Rosenkavalier. It’s an artfully understated bistrot with counter seats and tables, bookable at lunch, mobbed in the evenings. The daily menu of good, simple, europhile food is hand-written, and only occasionally undecipherable. We sit at the counter, so there’s an element of ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ when you’re ordering, too.
What we love about Ducksoup is the homely reality, when you might be expecting something way cool. Service is friendly, and there are warm sounds coming from the vinyl turntable by the door (Carole King, since you wonder). One or two dishes are served from crocks or platters on the counter: courgettes with chilli, saffron and mint; purple sprouting broccoli with anchovies and ricotta. We order roast shallots with mint and goat’s curd, which are a revelation – so simple, so good – and lamb with sea purslane and lemon, lending Mediterranean brightness to a dour English day.
The wine list is written up on white tiles on the wall. It’s strong on low-intervention or ‘natural’ wines; there’s little we recognise, apart from the delicious Rosé des Sables fizz, so we depend on staff to help us avoid anything too cloudy or cidery. So far, so good. Each time we come here, we feel a bit more at home. There’s even a place at the counter we consider to be ours – not that we get it every time. Can you guess which it is?