Sunday, 25 March 2012

Quo Vadis: A Breath of Fresh Air

I have a problem.  I am addicted to the latest food trend.  While I sneer at those who change their wardrobes twice a year to match the latest from London, Milan and Paris, I follow religiously the "next big thing" in food.  I scour blogs, queue for hours and talk incessantly to anyone who will listen about where I want to go next. 

I heard about the revolution Jeremy Lee (formerly of the Blueprint Cafe at the Design Museum) was leading at Quo Vadis through the usual sources.  The blogs, the twitterosphere, reviews in the paper (Jay Rayner's is excellent).  But this is not my usual kind of place.  There is nothing new-fangled, secret or trendy about this place.  It is far more grown up than that.  And do you know what, I loved it.

You step through the door and are warmly welcomed by (at least two) staff who guide you to your seat.  The restaurant is all white linen tablecloths - often an indication that a place has spent more on their laundry bills than the food - but not here.

Previously the prices had been so daunting (150 for a rather average lunch, apparently) that I had not been tempted.  But since Jeremy Lee has taken over the kitchen, the prices have come down to a much more manageable 5-7 for starters 10-20 for mains.

I kicked off with the pork terrine.  Moist and well seasoned, this was delicious although the cornichons did seem somewhat of an afterthought.

For main I went for the ox liver, sage and onions - for some reason the challenge of offal and weird and wonderful cuts of meat always appeals to me, much to the Fashionista's concern - duck's tongue anyone?  This time, however, I was on the money.  Tender, rich and moist liver with sweet onions - this dish was an absolute joy.  Glad we ordered some greens on the side though.

My companions for the evening had the squid and wild garlic to start (very nice apparently), the skate, black butter (a traditional preserve made from apples) and capers - a well balanced dish, cooked well, and the roast sirloin with (fiery) horseradish sauce - nice beef and the sauce hit you like only horseradish can!

All in with a nice bottle of burgundy it worked out about 50 per head - not cheap, but a darn sight better value than a lot of other places I have been while chasing after the "latest thing".  And so we went off into the night (or rather to the bar at St John's Hotel for an Old Fashioned - they do them very well), bellys full and satisfied. There was no fanfare, nobody commented on the novel use of "sous-vide" cooking - there was no need to, this was just really good food, cooked in a traditional way, expertly.   

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