“It finally has the menu it deserves!” – “straightforward British food served with aplomb” – says one of the many fans of Jeremy Lee’s much-ballyhooed arrival at the Hart brothers’ “stylish” Soho landmark; not all reporters, though, are entirely convinced.
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Press Reviews (15)
Jay Rayner (11th March 2012)
Nowhere is a time-limit on eating in restaurants more depressing than at this recently relaunched classic, “because in every other way this place is a delight”. The chef Lee “is one of those rare phenomena in the London food world: a chap everyone agrees is a good thing” [everyone in the world of media luvvy food critics anyway, Ed]. The man has a “killer combination of French technique, an instinct to feed, and a love of the robust” and what’s more is “a god of pies”.
Zoe Williams (11th March 2012)
Post revamp the room looks “sleeker but fundamentally the same”. The meal’s conclusion – a “bizarre concoction of burnt shortcake” is the only “false note, though – the rest was lovely”.
John Lanchester (2nd March 2012)
Jeremy Lee “has breathed new life into this rather faded Soho institution” which nowadays has “the feeling of being an instant hit”. And the “clarity” of this cooking – with “an emphasis on simplicity and impact” – is “a good fit” for this relaunched Soho institution. “One downside [it’s] noisy”.
Matthew Norman (19th August 2008)
“The entire experience, from the warm and jolly greeting onwards, was pretty much perfect.” Reviews of the Hart brothers’ re-launch of the Soho legend seem to be getting better all the time.
Terry Durack (12th August 2008)
“Great restaurateurs were always well-mannered enough to be grateful for, and appreciative of, our custom”, says the critic. They are pretty rare these days but he gets a “glimmer” of this approach at the Hart brothers’ relaunch of this Soho classic, which turns out to be “pretty close to [his] ideal modern British restaurant”. The rating, though, does seem very generous for the meal the critic describes.
Jay Rayner (5th August 2008)
“The new incarnation of Quo Vadis in London’s Soho is a good restaurant”, says the critic. “The principle here is very simple: pornographically good ingredients, cooked to their best advantage in a selection of dishes that can't be argued with… It's grown-up, serious food, which proves that by not being flash.” It also turns out to be rather pricey.
Giles Coren (15th July 2008)
Tracey MacLeod (7th July 2008)
Food 4/5 stars, Ambience 2/5 stars, Service 2/5 stars
The critic visits this new Soho grill room, and was “curious to see how [the Hart brothers would] go about creating the more comfortable, cosseting atmosphere required for an elegant three-course meal, rather than a staccato flurry of tapas dishes [as at Barrafina]”. “The answer is: not very well. Quo Vadis gets many things right, including, crucially, the food. But a restaurant like this is about so much more than the food.” The brother “may be good restaurateurs”, she concludes, “but they're not natural hosts”.
AA Gill (1st July 2008)
The critic likes the menu at this relaunched Soho institution, finding it “short without being rude, and sort of new English without being too sclerotically John Bull-ish and Last Night of the Poms… it’s the best food list I’ve seen for ages”. And the results were “humdinging”, with the meat “particularly deliciously hung”. (Oh yes, and he finally gets a clitoris into one of his reviews. All to do with Jeremy Clarkson, apparently.)
Richard Vines (20th June 2008)
“Though it's early days, Quo Vadis has the elements in place to become a successful restaurant, serving unfussy seasonal dishes”, says the critic. Yet, as he sagely observes, “it's hard to get excited about Quo Vadis… If I wanted this sort of food, I'd head over to Hix, or to Maze Grill for steaks. If I wanted high-quality cooking in Soho, it would be hard to beat Arbutus for value.” While this is a “solid start”, he concludes, “it's not a wildly inspiring one”.
Guy Dimond (12th June 2008)
TO’s head reviewer likes the food at the Hart brothers’ relaunch of this Soho classic, but finds the first-week service “all over the place”. We particularly enjoyed his nomination of summer pudding as the “star dish” – that certainly ain’t what Ms Moir said last week.
Marina O'Loughlin (12th June 2008)
Ms O'Loughlin breaks her self-imposed last-with-the-news policy to bring us an earlyish review on the Hart brothers’ Soho relaunch. She doesn’t find much wrong with the service, and the cooking, from ex-Fino chef Jean Philippe Patruno, is “almost everything it should be”.
Jasper Gerard (9th June 2008)
The critic likes the air of “traditional elegance” at the Hart brothers’ relaunch of this Soho classic. “Think Harry's Bar, with a hint of J Sheekey: old frosted mirrors, polished silver and a ravishing peony on each square of white linen.” “There are no gastro-pyrotechnics; instead you are cosseted.” “Few restaurants”, he concludes, “would prove as gently romantic, nor as soothing for a much cherished elder relative.”
Jan Moir (5th June 2008)
The critic is not sure that the (half-Spanish) Hart brothers’ “relaunch of Quo Vadis as an English grill room is quite as sure-footed and winning as their other enterprises”. She finds the seating “sardine”-like, and complains (it seems to be a complaint) that the ‘British’ menu “boasts a number of dishes that fail to meet any of the stated criteria” (“crab spaghetti, sea bass carpaccio, pesto gnocchi and L’Ami Louis potatoes among them”).
Chris Blackhurst (5th June 2008)
Ms Maschler’s stand-in’s review proper begins with the rather dodgy proposition that “The Ivy, Scott’s, Le Café Anglais and indeed, The Wolseley, have all gone down the English brasserie route”: the Ivy and Scotts are in no obvious sense brasseries, and the Café Anglais and the Wolseley are not notably English. Anyway, he praises the Hart brothers’ decision “to stick to English” – which undoubtedly is the case – for their relaunch of this famous Soho restaurant. Without any irony, he goes on to note, apparently approvingly, that the head chef is Jean-Philippe Petruno (French) from Fino (Spanish).