I do love a deal, so when I saw a special fixed price meal at Duende through The Nudge, I jumped on board and made a booking. I mean I also love Spanish food, and the idea of a modern Spanish meal sounded like a great night out. But, before dinner, drinks are always in order (even though it seemed we’d be getting a good amount of booze with dinner), so we went to Rules Cocktail Bar across the street for a bit of a warm up as our booking also happened to fall on #AprilSnow.
My drink was served in something a bit strange and was kind of hard to drink, but the flavor was good, so I really can’t complain. They also do a mean Negroni. In all honesty, it’s probably my favorite cocktail bar in London as they usually don’t have sweet cocktails, and the decor is pretty fantastic. After we arrived at Duende, the first thing we noticed is that it’s REALLY SMALL. I think there’s maybe enough room for 20 people. Luckily, we were at the bar, so we actually had a reasonable amount of space, but I felt really sorry for the table of four that were clearly seated at a table for two. They seemed to take a lesson directly from Palomar Restaurant when they seated us (five people) at a table for three. Not cool. So just be warned that if you want to dine here, you may want to make it date night…
We were given a Negroni to start. Apparently they make it with a special Vermouth from Spain which gave it an interesting flavor. The ice balls were nice, but they always look better when they are clear, not cloudy. It was also nice sitting at the bar, as we could ask the bartenders questions, as well as watch some of the finishing touches that were being made on the food. They also started us off with some Cava to go with our first two courses: Salmon Roulade and Seaweed Salad.
Weirdly, even though there were two of us, things were served in threes. Which was just a bit strange. But we’re really good at sharing, so we always manage to split things well. The roulade was absolutely delicious. The salmon was nicely smoked, the crispy sweet potato hay in the middle added a nice crunch, and the sauce was delicious. The seaweed salad was good, but nothing amazing, and the sauce smelled wonderfully of picadillo peppers, but needed a bit more punch. My partner commented that the salad was very similar to things we used to be able to get in California (quite cheaply) and those were usually better, but it was nice as it is something you don’t often find in the UK. It was definitely a nice way to start the meal. They moved us onto white wine for the next two courses: Fried Oysters and Duck Egg.
The fried oysters had quite a nice flavor with the sauce, the spinach and the nuts, but unfortunately, all of that together kind of overwhelmed the oyster and that kind of got lost. As the dish is oysters, I kind of expected more of an oyster flavor, so that was disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, if it was just spinach with a white sauce and almonds, the dish would have been superb! Or perhaps with a stronger fish like prawns it would have been better. I did really love the presentation though. The truffle duck egg was pretty spectacular though. Runny inside and a nice truffle flavor running throughout. Definitely something I’ve had before, but this one was really well executed. We moved onto red wine for our final two savory courses: Quail stuffed with foie gras and lamb chops.
Both of these dishes were pretty spectacular. The quail was a bit hard to eat as the sauce was poured into a hollowed out quail egg, so dipping inside was a bit tricky. But the flavor was absolutely great. It was also weirdly served in a birds nest. To be fair, we did have small plates off to the side, but some of the plating of the dishes was quite creative. The lamb chops were perfectly cooked and falling off the bone. They were full of flavor and very enjoyable. We then moved on to dessert served with a Pedro Ximenez sherry.
Dessert was chocolate and almond ice cream sandwiches with a salted caramel filling. They were easy to pick up and eat and tasted fantastic. One of the best desserts I’ve had in quite a while! Then we finished up with a nice G&T (light on the T thank goodness) and headed home.
Duende was a nice treat on a weirdly snowy April evening (but not really, it didn’t stick). It’s definitely a tiny restaurant, which is a bit of a drawback for me, but the food was presented beautifully, and most of the dishes were really tasty. The service was really quite good, and everyone was very friendly and welcoming. I did see other tables eating dishes we didn’t have, and I felt very jealous of the couple sitting next to us eating Padron Peppers in some sort of dipping sauce. I may have to come back just to try those. For a set menu, they gave us a great selection of their food to try with really good wines to go with them.