Pleasure / April 2017

An Ode To Quo Vadis Soho, London

How does Quo Vadis measure up to Soho’s saturated streets of eateries? Max Olesker recalls why this is a place that has him returning time after time.

‘Quo Vadis’. Even the name is improbable. A silly, Wodehousian, Latinate name that surely prevents the place from ever reasonably becoming anyone’s local (“Shall we go for a quick pint at Quo?”). And yet for me, and countless others, a local – in the heart of Soho – is exactly what it’s become.

It’s a joyously impractical thing – part restaurant, part member’s club, set over three levels in three listed Soho townhouses (one the former residence of Karl Marx) – but somehow it works. I discovered it in 2012, and have been hooked ever since.

You could start with the drinks, if you wanted – they’re spectacularly good. The negronis are smooth and rounded, and the martinis are triumphant - none more so than their filthy vodka martini, which is so suffused with brine and olives that it resembles alcoholic seawater, and is one of my favourite drinks in the world.

And then there’s the setting of the club itself - light, airy, plush but not stuffy, and adorned with a lavish and perpetually-refreshed selection of flowers. The seating is comfortable, the lighting is warm, the service is friendly, and the menus are reprinted and amended daily, bearing the day’s temperature and weather (“bright sunshine 15°c”), and emblazoned with illustrations by the artist John Broadley, whose work also covers the walls. There’s enough space to work, or meet, or eat, or drink - or an evolving combination of all of the above – from breakfast time through to some unspecified point in the early morning.

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Max Olesker

Contributing Editor at Esquire, and Associate Editor of Esquire’s Big Black Book, Max has also written features for The Times, The Observer, and Harper’s Bazaar. He also performs across the world one as half of comedy double-act Max & Ivan (BBC Radio 4’s Casebook of Max & Ivan, BBC 2’s W1A).