QUO VADIS REDUX
It's a total biosphere
The farm in the back
(Cabaret Voltaire Remix)
I suppose it was inevitable that those days, where my most pressing issue was where to go for lunch, would come to an end and I would be thrown back into the savage world of wage slavery that is the modern workplace. Or in my case treading the boards again: in rep at a small theatre under the Tinsley Viaduct, playing the part of Pale in a new production of Lanford Wilson's Burn This (“Goddamn this fuckin' place”).
By way of celebration I needed no coercing in returning for lunch at my favourite table of the moment: the Hart Brother’s Quo Vadis in Soho. I’d written about it a couple of weeks ago and how it pushed all the right buttons as far as I was concerned: good ingredients, precisely cooked; on the ball service, comfortable dining room. Attention to all details, in other words.
Lunch on this day started off with some Sea Urchin or its gonads to be more precise. Sea Urchin is up there with Caviar and Percebes in terms of its price and also how it divides people into those who ‘get it’ and those who don’t. Like all seafood it needs to be extremely fresh.
This example was excellent: creamy, rich and briny with a slight sweetness. It didn’t need any accompaniment. I was transported back several years to a meal with the younger Hermano at Sushi Yasuda in NYC, considered by many the best place for Sushi in the US. We were sitting at the corner of the bar - Yasuda-san’s station - and because we had expressed a love of Uni, at the end of a tremendous Omakase he comped us big spoonfuls of the stuff. He explained , with a wink, that they were “for the weekend”. Yes, he did know HS was my brother (I think).
Whitebait was the exemplar of this dish. Fresh little fish had been lightly coated in the harina especial para freir or special flour that the Spanish use for preparing fish for frying. It’s USP is that it doesn’t suck up the oil. This fact combined with good technique meant that the coating was crisp and grease free.
The kitchen at Quo Vadis really has a knack with their timing of meat and fish dishes. My Veal Cutlet was cooked so the flesh had just the barest trace of pink. Covered in a little well-judged sage jus, it was of notably good quality. It sat on a small blob of smooth, creamy pommes puree.
On the side were some more of those great chips – although they weren’t quite up to standard of the first batch I’d eaten – and a fresh, simple salad of shaved fennel and heirloom tomatoes.
A pud of Profiteroles could only have been improved by serving the little jug of dark, bitter, Chocolate sauce hot instead of lukewarm. It needed to provide a better contrast with the cold Vanilla ice cream inside the choux pastry buns.
Afterwards, I had a double espresso and rued the absence of the homemade Pacharán or artisanal Orujo Blanco that the Hart’s serve at Barrafina.
So, four different dishes to last time and I’m very happy to report it’s still all good. Keep up the fine work, boys.
Anyway, I’m off now to get in character and brew myself a pot of that nice orange pekoe tea.