The second major positive was how knowledgeable and friendly the service was. While the menu provides generally clear instruction, we nevertheless had some questions. What for example is the 'QV summer salad'? And the 'smoked trout, seaweed & cucumber sandwich', is that an avant garde afternoon tea nibble or a starter that fits into a dinner's normal running order. Whatever the question, our waitress not only had the answer but delivered it in a way to make everything sound lovely and in doing so, impress upon us that she was a trusted authority on the menu. This warm glow transfers then more broadly to the institution as her capability leaves you thinking, yes, this i how restaurants should be run (but rarely are).
And of course the third major positive is that we loved the food. It is now well known that Jeremy Lee has brought his own special magic to this most venerable of London restaurants and what he really demonstrated on the plate today was how enjoyable clean presentation and clean flavours are when good ingredients are cooked well.
While starters included some Mediterranean sun kissed offerings such as sardines, seaweed, samphire & green beams, or young garlic, olives, peas and mint, a whole artichoke in their 'artichoke vinaigrette' is so seldom offered in restaurants, it seemed a must. Alongside that, the simple freshness of crab mayonnaise also appealed. For sure there's a little work for the diner to do with the artichoke, but you're amply rewarded for this. For the crab, it is the kitchen that has done all the hard work, and there's a lot of it too, in fact, we can't remember feeling better rewarded when ordering a crab starter and even spreading it generously on the toast, you'll need a few journeys with a piled high fork to work your way to the bottom of the bowl.
Fish has an automatic appeal in hot weather (for us at least) and whole grilled mackerel, hake and cured sea trout are all on offer on the mains. But it seems like ages since we last had pork and there are two tempting presentations of it on the menu and as well as being what we want, it seems fun to compare. The middlewhite pork, girolles, green beans and garlic is a rich dance of colour as the bed of pork is fully crisscrossed with mushrooms and beans, and a side order of chips now seems somewhat unnecessary despite the fact that like everything else today, they're very good. The pork belly comes with potatoes, peas, lettuce and mint, which is presented separately at the table leaving the pork belly to grab your attention as it arrive at the table with a single garnish that instantly has you diving for your knife and fork. The knife is almost redundant however as the meat pulls apart so easily and is a real treat to me as someone who regularly orders pork in restaurants but is regularly disappointed also. This is pork worth having while the peas and mint and lettuce brings a lovely freshness to the dish so that the summer feeling is never lost.
One cheese with honey and cherries and one 'st emilion au chocolate', a lovely chocolate slice with a bit of French liqueur thrown in were told (but not I must say readily noticeable). The cheese and cherries is a nice variant on crackers and grapes (and we adore cheese and honey and wonder why so few serve it that way), while the chocolate slice hits the right notes so that we're both appropriately full and suitably impressed with summer food that you really want to eat.
Top marks then for Quo Vadis and little wonder that QV has once again become a destination for food lovers in Soho. And with the front of house delivering the enthusiasm and friendly professionalism that seems so easy but is in reality so hard to actually achieve, Quo Vadis is undoubtedly the full package.