Ducksoup is one of those properly romantic Soho restaurant-wine bar hybrids. Hidden from the street by heavy, deep-blue curtains, it’s candlelit and lovely, with just a few small tables along the wall and a small bar that acts as a dining counter. If there’s more than two of you, you can book ahead. If not, be prepared to be seated at the busy counter (and wait for your space on it).
The menu is seasonal and scrawled (almost illegibly) onto a plain white sheet of paper every day (the natural wine list is written on chalkboards above the bar). Our visit started off spectacularly – with crunchy, warm sourdough, fresh from the oven – and standards never dropped. After some supremely fresh oysters with lemon, there was a plate of charred celeriac flecked with salty ricotta and chunks of walnut, then some perfectly al dente fettuccine doused in cavolo nero and pecorino. Finally, a hanger steak, perfectly rare, served with soft, bitter Italian winter greens and salty cubes of pancetta for balance.
There were about ten people squeezed onto the counter on my visit. I was sandwiched between two couples – so close we knocked elbows buttering sourdough – and as the night went on, I could literally hear them whispering sweet nothings to each other. Normally, this would be annoying. But the atmosphere at Ducksoup is so great I forgot about my neighbours almost as soon as I started eating, too absorbed in the food, the wine, and thinking about how great wine bars can be when everything’s done well.
Ducksoup isn’t necessarily ground-breaking, but it’s a solid London restaurant that should continue to stand the test of time. It's all gone swimmingly, so far.