Quo Vadis (restaurant)

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Quo Vadis
Quo Vadis, Soho, W1 (2588280146).jpg
Restaurant information
Established 1926; 91 years ago (1926)
Current owner(s) Sam and Eddie Hart
Food type Modern British
Dress code None
Street address Dean Street, Soho
City London, W1
Country United Kingdom
Other information Nearest station:
London Underground Tottenham Court Road
Website quovadissoho.co.uk

Quo Vadis is a restaurant and private club in Soho, London. It primarily serves modern British food.[1] It was founded in 1926 by an Italian named Pepino Leoni and has passed through numerous owners since then, including celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, and is currently owned by Sam and Eddie Hart, also the owners of Barrafina.[2] The restaurant is named after the Latin phrase Quo vadis?, meaning "Where are you going?"[3]

History[edit]

Building[edit]

Blue plaque commemorating Karl Marx's residency at 28 Dean Street

The restaurant occupies numbers 26–29 Dean Street. Nos. 26–8 form a uniform group built in c. 1734 by the carpenter John Nolloth, of St James's, and No. 29 was built in c. 1692.[4] The sculptor Joseph Nollekens was born in the latter house in 1737; a later resident was the composer François-Hippolyte Barthélémon.[4] Karl Marx and his family lived in two small rooms at No. 28, described as an "old hovel", between 1851 and 1856;[4] his residency is commemorated by a London County Council blue plaque.[5] It was due to the association with Marx that numbers 26–28 were made a Grade I listed building on 14 January 1970.[5]

Restaurant[edit]

The restaurant was founded in 1926 by Pepino Leoni.[6] When Leoni originally opened Quo Vadis in 1926, it only occupied No. 27. He purchased the property, with the aid of a bank loan for £800. Its moniker was alighted on after Leoni saw a billboard in Leicester Square advertising a film of the same name. Quo Vadis is Latin for "Where art you going?". The cinematic epic, adapted from Henryk Sienkiewicz's classic 1896 novel Quo Vadis, was the highest-grossing film in 1951.[7]

In 1996, the restaurant was bought by Marco Pierre White and Damien Hirst, and featured paintings by the artist as well as a bar designed by him. The pair later parted company after a public falling out, following which White replaced Hirst's paintings with some of his own.[8][9]

In November 2007, head chef and owner Marco Pierre White sold the restaurant, along with two others, to restaurant group Conduit Street. Quo Vadis was then sold on again to Sam and Eddie Hart, who immediately closed it down. Both White and the Hart brothers endured criticism as Christmas bookings were cancelled.[10][11] The Hart brothers re-opened the restaurant in 2008 with head Chef Jean Philippe Patruno (previously at Fino) following extensive restoration work and, in 2009, it won Tatler magazine's Restaurant of the Year award.[12]

In July 2008, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay named Quo Vadis as his favourite restaurant, describing the Hart brothers as "restaurateurs in the fullest sense of the word". The Evening Standard characterised this praise as a "thinly veiled attack" on Marco Pierre White, with whom Ramsay has an antipathetic relationship.[13]

On the front-right of the restaurant is curious sight of a human nose. While rumors of connections to ancient Roman legends of traitors having their noses cut off and fed to animals have sprung up, it is one of several London Noses.

In January 2012 Jeremy Lee, formerly of London’s Blueprint Café, joined Sam & Eddie Hart as chef and partner at Quo Vadis. Upon Jeremy's arrival the restaurant underwent some cosmetic changes and the long-standing collaboration with artist John Broadley began, starting with the distinctive illustrated menus.

In September 2012 the QV Bakery was launched and a month later in October 2012 Quo Vadis began offering breakfast. Chef Jeremy Lee's menu of early morning favourites is "inspired by the iconic restaurant’s British and seasonal fare." [14]

Critical reception[edit]

Quo Vadis under its current ownership has received generally positive reviews. Tatler has listed it as one of its top 20 restaurants,[15] in July 2008 The Times reviewer Giles Coren gave the restaurant a score of 9 out of 10, describing the food as "all done beautifully"[16] and in June 2008 The Telegraph's reviewer, Jasper Gerard, gave it 8 out of 10 and said that visitors would "adore the cooking".[17]

Tracey MacLeod of The Independent was less positive, giving the restaurant 2 out of 5 for ambience and service, although 4 out of 5 for food. She described the waiters as "skittish" and said that the Hart brothers were "not natural hosts".[18]

In January 2012 Fay Maschler of the Evening Standard gave Quo Vadis four out of five stars, stating "The combination of lovely Jeremy Lee, the hard-working Hart brothers and "Spitz" is the dream team of which my nights are made."[19] In February 2013 Giles Coren reviewed Quo Vadis in the The Times Magazine, describing the menu as 'simple, perfect', the smoked eel and horseradish sandwich as a 'must-have' and the squid and fennel salad 'clean and dainty' [20] Also in February 2012 Nick Lander wrote a review of Quo Vadis in the Financial Times, calling the cooking "exciting, vibrant and fresh." [21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gill, AA (29 June 2008). "Restaurant review: AA Gill at Quo Vadis". The Times. 
  2. ^ Norman, Matthew (16 August 2008). "Restaurant review: Quo Vadis". The Guardian. 
  3. ^ Rose-Day, Christian (30 November 2009). "Quo Vadis". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c F. H. W. Sheppard (General Editor) (1966). "Dean Street Area: Portland Estate: Dean Street". Survey of London: volumes 33 and 34: St Anne Soho. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Historic England. "Quo Vadis Restaurant (1290584)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  6. ^ "about". Quo Vadis. 
  7. ^ Cheryl, Clarke. "Quo Vadis Soho". Nights Out: Life in Cosmopolitan London By Judith Walkowitz. London-History. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  8. ^ Spicer, Kate (8 June 2008). "Eddie and Sam Hart and Rollo Gabb of Quo Vadis". The Times. 
  9. ^ Blackhurst, Chris (4 June 2008). "Restoring status at Quo Vadis". Evening Standard. 
  10. ^ "MPW roasted over Quo Vadis closure". The First Post. 27 November 2007. 
  11. ^ Nugent, Helen (28 November 2007). "New owners ruin Christmas meals at Quo Vadis". The Times. 
  12. ^ Shaw, Lucky (21 January 2009). "Quo Vadis scoops top Tatler award". Decanter.com. 
  13. ^ Widdup, Ellen (9 July 2008). "Gordon Ramsey fires new salvo at Marco Pierre White". Evening Standard. 
  14. ^ "Breakfast Quo Vadis- lunch is for wimps". The Handbook. Oct 15, 2012.  External link in |work= (help)
  15. ^ "Quo Vadis". Tatler. 
  16. ^ Coren, Giles (12 July 2008). "Restaurant review: Giles Coren at Quo Vadis". The Times. 
  17. ^ Gerard, Jasper (6 June 2008). "Restaurant review:Quo Vadis". The Telegraph. 
  18. ^ MacLeod, Tracey (5 July 2008). "Lost in Soho:Quo Vadis". The Independent. 
  19. ^ "Fay Maschler reviews Quo Vadis". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2015-10-12. 
  20. ^ "Giles Coren reviews Quo Vadis | The Times". The Times. Retrieved 2015-10-12. 
  21. ^ Lander, Nicholas (2012-02-03). "Soho by the Mediterranean". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2015-10-12. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Quo Vadis (restaurant) at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 51°30′50″N 0°07′58″W / 51.51401°N 0.13264°W / 51.51401; -0.13264