Sometimes modernist cuisine can be very naff. Let’s be honest, in striving to create new flavours, and to boldly surprise diners, the new chefs can end up making food that’s totally preposterous. Exploded this and compressed that, such-and-such foam and dehydrated thingumy often go too far. Texture isn’t like that.
“Sometimes modernist cuisine can be very naff”
Modern Scandinavian cooking is on offer. But the idea isn’t to push ingredients beyond breaking point, but to show you what those ingredients really mean. So the quail is served pink and moist and oh-so tender, with a matchbox of breast and two lollipops (though I love that Americans call them ‘popsicles’) of leg. Sitting on a bed of sweetcorn, with corn jus and some spicy popped corn, this is actually a remarkably simple dish. Simple, but supremely delicious.
Quail can, obviously, taste quite gamey. And presumably it’s exactly this flavour that hanging and ageing meats is intended to develop. But this is so, so subtle, with a meaty, poultry taste that is gently aromatic, sweetly herby and almost salty-sour.
Would I try this again? Yes. And with staff that went so far beyond helpfulness after a confusion regarding the booking, I’d happily recommend the place!
You notice two things on entering Song Que. Firstly, the Vietnamese cafe is hardly an elegant, haute cuisine establishment with smart design where you might expect one of the best eating experiences in London. Secondly, the place is simply heaving with people, crammed close together around tightly-packed tables.
Having tried this dish, I can appreciate why they’ve all come.
“the place is simply heaving with people”
The quail, grilled and chopped into quarters was crisp and moist without being greasy. It has a fairly light spicing that adds bite, but with attention to not competing with the tender flavour of the bird. It’s definitely a fingers-affair, where I feel no guilt at nibbling round the bones to get every last morsel. Quails aren’t famed for the quantity of the meat on them, so I’d definitely advise one each if you want more than a taste, and it would be a massive shame to waste any by politely picking at the dish with cutlery.
Served with a perfunctory garnish of lettuce, this isn’t going to satisfy someone looking for a perfectly presented dish, or a balanced starter… but I wouldn’t return to the restaurant and fail to order it.