26-29 Dean Street, Soho W1 | http://www.quovadissoho.co.uk | ingested Friday Oct 9th ’09

Traipsing along Dean Street, its impossible to miss this timeless Soho landmark – still accessorized in its classic, vintage neon sign and original stained glass windows. Splendidly restored by the Hart brothers last year (who also happen to be the brainchild behind Barrafina and Fino), Quo Vadis is a little bit Mayfair Grill meets Soho but has just enough avant-garde to not feel out of place amongst its trendier surroundings. Jo booked this place for a £25 prix fixe deal as part of London Restaurant festival last week (and it did not disappoint!). Call it festival fever with a dash of TGIF syndrome… QV’s elegant dining room was absolutely buzzing on that Friday evening.

Pigs trottersPig’s trotters and Ceps on QV sourdough

In spite of the constraints of the set menu, QV’s food was spot on, living up to its billing of first-rate, modern British cuisine. Simple, seasonal, merging great flavour combinations, and letting the produce do the lead vocals. Jo’s starter of Pig’s trotters and Ceps on sourdough was comforting and hearty, bursting with wonderfully bold flavours. The plating was abstract yet immaculate, very much in tandem with the modern art pieces on exhibition. I kicked off with the other option: Scallops and Braised Ox Cheek, served with Pancetta and Jerusalem Artichoke Puree – a flawless symphony of sweet, meaty, savoury and rich which lingered on the palate in harmony as you worked through the multi-faceted textures.

ScallopsScallops and Braised Ox-cheek with pancetta and Jerusalem artichoke puree

In the spirit of food exploration, we usually never choose the same main course. But given the a choice of Lamb Sweetbread versus Dover Sole served with Langoustine Jelly, Chanterelle mushrooms and Salsify, forgive us for dropping the ball this one night – there was only ever going to be one winner here. Not only was the fish perfectly cooked, but there was what I can only describe as a moment of food nirvana as the langoustine jelly melted into a sauce and the earthy crunch from the salsify came into play.

Dover SoleDover Sole with Langoustine jelly, Chanterelles and Salsify

Its great to know that amidst soggy fish&chips and just average pies, there are institutions like QV which champion great British food, giving it the soul it needs to compete with its continental counterparts across the Channel. Mind you, with starters normally around a tenner and mains upwards from 20 quid, the Ala Carte menu here can itself instigate its own Credit Crisis. But if the food on a normal night is anywhere near the standard of the festival menu, its a decent investment. My sincere hope is that QV was not just dressed to impress for prom night. I’ll be back to see what she looks like without make-up on.

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