Zucca

Zucca is located right in the heart of foodie’s heaven on Bermondsey Street, just a five minute walk from both Maltby Street and Borough Market. It offers quality authentic Italian cooking without the high-end prices. Sitting up at the bar overlooking the open kitchen, the food is cooked and presented with the minimum amount of fuss. It is clean and precise, with the focus firmly being on the main ingredient of each dish. If a piece of meat only requires a little salt and squeeze of lemon, then that’s all that it will get.

A starter of venison, beetroot and parmesan (around £8). was a simple marriage of flavours and textures. A slice of aubergine lasagne (£7) was lovely and rich but such a tiny portion that it left us wishing it was twice the size.

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On the waiter’s recommendation my partner went for the tagliatelle with guinea fowl (£15). More meat wouldn’t have gone a miss, but the pasta was perfect and what little sauce there was had a great flavour. A veal chop with spinach and lemon (£18.50) with a side of cannellini beans (£4.25) was a great example of how little needs to be done to a dish to make it taste as good as it possibly can. A succulent grilled chop served bang-on medium-rare, and bed of spinach laced in fresh lemon juice. It was probably the best chop of any kind that I have ever eaten.

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With a glass of red wine (£7.45), two bottles of San Pelligrino and a couple of strong Italian coffees, the bill came to £85 after service. The staff were friendly and extremely informative, and it was great sitting up at the bar watching the chefs at work. There’s a great buzz in the modern and chic dining room and it’s the perfect place for a casual Saturday lunch or simple dinner.

8/10 (£££)

184 Bermondsey St, London

Zucca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ducksoup

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Right in the heart of Soho, Ducksoup offers decent grub for around £20 a head. As with many little joints in Soho it doesn’t take evening bookings, but it’s not the type of place you sit for a couple of hours so the turnaround rate on seats is fairly sharp. The room itself isn’t much more than bare white walls (painted to look scruffy) and a bar area where everybody, apart from the couple of window seats, is perched up on stools. The cooking reflects the no-nonsense decor. It’s simple but stylish.

The menu is European influenced with more of a nod towards Spain, and changes daily, but expect veg to make up a good proportion of the small plates, all around £6 each. The kale came with a lemon and chilli dressing, and was the second best kale dish I’ve had in London behind the one at Barrafina. Just as tasty was a small plate of colourful beetroot that was really lifted by a fresh mint and sour cream dip. There was a potted goose with mini gherkins and sourdough that needed more salt and failed to excite. And quail that was nicely grilled and served with a lovely nutty olive oil and tangy lemon dressing but as tends to be the case with quail you spend more time picking at bones than finding any meat.

What really makes the dishes sing are the ingredients. They’re well sourced and that comes through in the flavour. Ingredients like this are often best done simply, and it takes a good chef to pull it off. Ducksoup isn’t going to change the way you think about food, but it’s affordable and the small plates lets you try a few things. It’s worth chancing that there’s a couple of seats being free next time you find yourself wandering through Soho with too many choice on your hands.

Ducksoup, 41 Dean St

6/10

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