Like Surry Hills in Sydney, or the Lower East Side in NYC; if you’re bouncing about London’s Soho, you won’t be hurting for good places to eat. 

In the past if you were  in the mood for a ‘no booking, roll up, have a glass of wine and nibble on some charcuterie and small plates’; then you had  the nearby options of Fernandez and Wells, Foxcroft and Ginger, and Spuntino to sort through.  Now the casual small plates/winebar Ducksoup has joined the throng of eating spots on Dean Street. It nudges up next to the solid Vietnamese spot; Cay Tre.  It bats its eyes at the comfort classics (and prickly prices) of the Dean Street Townhouse – and further along the street you can find the all you can eat cheese room at Bistro du Vin.

Like a shy guest at a party there’s currently little signage to advertise its presence. Inside there’s a long bar boasting a large bowl of chilled wines bottles of wine and a half carved jamon. There are small tables hugging up against the wall, or one out the front on the street that can seat up to six.

Here are some things to like about it.

It’s the product of chef Julian Biggs, with Clare Lattin and Rory McCoy. All three have worked with Mark Hix. When it comes to good produce, minimally mucked about with, they know their stuff.

To drink there’s Vedett, a Belgian lager on tap- and the beer by the bottle is a ‘Fucking Hell’ pilsner.  Cue an embarrassed flush if you’re ordering that in front of your Nan. But if she hasn’t joined the party, or has a sharp tongue, then go right ahead. Live large. Get two.

The wine list is written up on white tiles, both by the bottle and the glass (a naturally sparkling Loire rosé de sable proves perfect for a freakish 28 degree Saturday). Come winter, it would be very easy to tuck in with a bottle of gutsy red and watch the crowds stream past.

On to food. The menu changes daily and for the moment is hand written on  paper.

Bar nibbles will set you back around £3.50, starters are £7 and mains at £14.

Tomatoes with bread  (£3.50) wasn’t actually the Spanish tomato puree on griddled bread we expected- instead it’s more stew like in consistency, a slurry of bread sopped in fresh tomato puree.

It’s comforting, but not the most elegant thing to eat or share.

Saucisson sec is a good accompaniment, with muted spices and solid speckles of fat. Bellota ham (£16 for a plate) is a generous portion of meaty shards to rake your teeth across and chase after sweet threads of fat.

After those we order a slab of artery clogging brilliance in brillat savarin (£4.50) coupled with girolles. This is another dish that surprises. Rather than coming oozing and melted on bread, the mushrooms are cold and zesty with acidity. It’s an interesting pairing that plays nicely when smeared on rustic hunks of bread.

Some dishes prove a little unwieldy to eat. A frito misto (£14) of artichokes, sea bass, scallops and lemon has a light and gentle crust and a thick splodge of saffron infused aioli.

There’s a lot of unwrapping required to get to the meaty palatable bits of the artichoke. And while the scallops are sweetly cooked to perfection, the sea bass lost some of its structural integrity in the frying. It slips out of its  case when raised to your mouth, causing a cascading dribble of fish flesh.

Here are some more things I like about Ducksoup. They serve wine in proper glasses, rather than shabby tumblers, which make me feel like someone who can’t be trusted at the party with proper glassware.

And there’s their BYO vinyl policy. By the door there are turntables and a collection which includes both Nina Simone and vintage Fleetwood Mac.

A glass of sparkling pink, cured meat and nostalgic tunes…  all in all; a solid addition to an area where you’re already spoiled for choice.

But who ever said they didn’t like to be spoiled?
 
Ducksoup
(020) 7287 4599     
40-41 Dean Street, Soho
London, Gre W1D 4
ducksoupsoho.co.uk
Open Noon-10.30pm Monday-Saturday. 1-6pm Sunday

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