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If there's one thing that strikes you at Quo Vadis, it's the simplicity. The Soho restaurant has existed under many guises, but none of them could be considered understated. Now, with Jeremy Lee at the stove and Sam and Eddie Hart, owners of Barrafina and Fino, at the helm, the restaurant and club has been taken back to basics. The Hart brothers took over Quo Vadis four years ago, but recruited Lee at the end of last year, prising him away from the Blueprint Café at the Design Museum.
Lee has brought with him the relaxed and unfussy cooking style that won him plaudits at the Blueprint Café. Some exuberance is permitted, however, on the menu, which features illustrations from John Broadley to accompany the dishes. The menu itself changes daily, though regular features remain.
The approach may be modest - reflected in the plain-speaking menu - but by delicately treating produce sourced from many of his original suppliers, Lee's food delights without being showy.
A "theatre set" menu is offered all day, priced at £17.50 for two courses and £20 for three, offering real value. Elsewhere, the varied menu includes bites, featuring smoked cod roe (£3.50) and potted pork (£4), a pie of the day and a choice from the grills of onglet (£16.50), leg of mutton (£18.50) and rib of beef for two (£45).
Among the starters are dishes such as hare soup (£5.50), herring and potato salad and squid, fennel and puntarella (£6.50), while main courses include ox liver, onions and sage (£14) and skate, capers and black butter (£17).
Dessert favourites include almond tart, caramelised pears and vanilla ice-cream (£5.50) and lemon posset and rhubarb (£5.50). Like the other dishes on the menu, they showcase Lee's delicate, yet uncomplicated, style and the power of his produce, which is exactly what saw this year's judging panel agree unanimously that Quo Vadis was their winning menu, despite heavyweight competition.
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID
"The new Quo Vadis menu is a brilliant combination of well-priced, appealing dishes that are right on the button for contemporary tastes. Jeremy Lee's quirky but stylish interpretation of British classics offers something for everyone, whatever their appetite or budget."
Jennifer Sharp, Inside Out Luxury
"The originality and compilation of the content means there is something for everyone. I also like the way the menu works for the very established site."
Mark Askew, Cirrus Inns
"Quo Vadis has always been a Soho stalwart but Jeremy Lee has just put it into the super league of the London restaurant scene."
Jason Atherton, Pollen Street Social
â- Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London
â- Fraiche, Wirral
â- Nopi, London
â- Quo Vadis, London
The JudgesMark Askew, operations director, Cirrus Inns
Jason Atherton, chef-proprietor, Pollen Street Social
Rob Kirby, chef-director, Lexington Catering
David Moore, owner, Pied Á Terre and L'Autre Pied
Michael Raffael, food writer
Jennifer Sharp, editor in chief, Inside Out Luxury
Clare Smyth, head chef, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay