Last week I went to see the brilliant play Enron with my friends Lucy, Jo, Alice and Lindsay, necessitating a pre-theatre meal. None of us are the sort of girls who can survive waiting until 11pm, post theatre to eat dinner. Lucy did some research and came up with a few West end options with pre-theatre menus, but the best deal appeared to be Quo Vadis which offered two courses for £17.50 or three for £19.50. Another restaurant from the brothers behind Barrafina and Fino, Sam and Eddie Hart, Quo Vadis had been on my list of places to go for a while.
Arriving at 6pm the atmosphere was a little stifling as the formal setting and the lack of any background music left the impression that you had to talk in hushed tones. The whole place had a rather clubby feel to it with stained glass windows dimming the light, soft brown leather bench seating and starched linen clad tables. Our waitress did her best to liven things up and explained that at the height of service the bustle of the waiters, the sounds of the coffee machine and bar tender and the murmur of conversation meant the lack of music was not an issue. She promised to be as noisy as possible to compensate for the silence.
Poached brown egg
Our waitress brought over some bread and filtered water quickly, although annoyingly there was a cover charge of £2.50 a head for this which bumped up the price of our bargain menu slightly. The pre-theatre menu itself offered three choices for each course and cleverly suggested a matched glass of wine for each dish on offer. In the end we chose one of the selection, a chardonnay, and just ordered a bottle of it. The menu itself features, simple pared-back cooking of the sort which aims to let the quality of the ingredients shine. They certainly did in the vibrant orange gazpacho which was so thick and velvety that it tasted as if it had cream in it. Poached brown egg, anchovy and baby gem salad was in effect a mini Caesar salad minus the bacon. The egg was perfectly poached an arrived ensconsed in a curl of the baby gem lettuce which added some crispness to the classic dish.
A summer inspired dish of tagiatelle was dotted with cherry tomatoes, courgettes and ricotta making it as light as a pasta dish can get. Equally appealing was the lemon sole which was served as two grilled fillets draped over a small salad made up of multi coloured beetroot. However, the flavour of the beetroot slightly overwhelmed the delicate fish.
Given that the main courses were fairly light we decided dessert was also in order. A square of milk chocolate parfait was cleverly enlivened with sour cherries and cut a brilliant geometrical dash on the plate. Simpler, but equally tasty was a melon salad made from balls of watermelon, cantelope and gala melon and crowned with a scoop of lemon sorbet.
This was almost the perfect pre-theatre meal as it was light with portions that erred on the side of being too small for a normal, lengthy dinner, but were just right for our quick and early meal.
Our waitress did a sterling effort of making sure all courses arrived promptly so we could make it to the theatre on time. As a good pre-theatre meal should, our meal made me want to go back and sample Quo Vadis’ full menu and also experience the restaurant with a little more buzz about it. My only hesitancy would be the prices which are on the steep side if you are ordering from the main menu.
Details: 29 Dean Street, Soho W1D 3LL (Ph 020 7437 9585) Tube: Tottenham Court Road
Damage: Reasonable but pricey if you don’t get a pre-theatre or lunch deal.
If you liked this you can read about the good and the bad of other pre-theatre dining options at Noura and J Sheekey.
The winner of last week’s Gourmet Giveaway of a box of Godiva chocolates is @nelsonclaire. The winner was picked using random.org and @nelsonclaire won by virtue of being the third comment.