Hattie Lloyd 15/02/23
Quo Vadis | Iconic Soho Restaurant & Bar
Quo vadis is a question in Latin, and literally means ‘where are you going?’
The answer to which is also …Quo Vadis.
Well, it was the answer for one or two people at least, because Soho’s grande dame has been entertaining diners for the best part of a century now, and shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, she’s just had a fancy new facelift, almost doubling the size of her downstairs dining area, as well as amping up the menu.
Image credit: Greg Funnell
At this point it would be remiss of us not to dive into the history, and cast a glance at some of the shinier, more interesting moments – because there are a lot. It was once a brothel. Karl Marx wrote much of his major work while living there (not at the same time as the brothel thing). The original (bourgeois!) restaurateur bought the place in 1926 and named it after the number one movie at the time – it’s sort of like someone opening a bistro called Avatar: Way of the Water. The kitchen was once helmed by Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay called it his favourite restaurant, and current head chef Jeremy Lee made his near-legendary reputation there. Now, everyone from Fay Maschler to Giles Coren has evangelised about it. Basically, it’s as close as you can get to restaurant royalty in Soho.
Now, back to the refurb. Gone are the moody blue tones, and in are the handsome red Georgian-style dining sofas and the reclaimed Georgian wood floor. It’s also a lot bigger than it used to be, with enough space for forty diners when it’s buzzing. And buzzing with hubbub and merriment is almost its default state. And don’t worry, you’ll still find its customary crisp tablecloths, stained glass windows and sprightly flower arrangements.
Having a party? Then the law requires you to order this sharing pavolva.
The menu too has been given a nice zhoozh too, with thoroughly British additions like potted goose, skate terrines, and a hearty braised hare & mashed potato. And there are a few old favourites still kicking around too, including the famed smoked eel sandwich and ‘today’s pie’ which is, by massive coincidence, always delicious no matter what day it is.
And thus we come to the dessert menu. Here, French influences make a welcome cameo, with delights like crème caramel a l’orange, and ‘ile flotant’ with praline & custard. Of course you can always stick to more traditional ground with a little rice pudding & rhubarb, or a classic lemon tart & crème fraîche. But the king of them all is the st emilion au chocolat, which is essentially like a chocolate mousse made by god himself.
To wash it all down, they’ll shake you any number of classic cocktails, including their famed Martini, an Old Fashioned, a Brandy Alexander, or a simple glass of Poire Williams – a brandy-like spirit with an entire pear floating in the bottle.
Which is the answer to a great many questions.
NOTE: Quo Vadis is open Tuesday to Saturday. You can find out more, and make a booking by simply clicking here.
Quo Vadis | 26 – 29 Dean Street, W1D 3LL
Like dining in the area? Check out our guide to the Best Restaurants in Soho
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26 - 29 Dean Street, Soho, Central London, W1D 3LL
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020 7437 9585
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