Quantus serves modern European food with the occasional hint of South America, with its chef (Juan Zuliani) being from Buenos Aires. It opened in early 2011, and is firmly aimed at a local clientele; it is almost opposite Michelin-starred La Trompette, and can seat around 40 diners at full capacity. As a nice touch, there is complimentary wi-fi for guests. The room is simply decorated but was quite smart, with white linen tablecloths and napkins. Three courses at lunch were priced at £19.50 (two courses £16.50), though a few dishes had supplements, and vegetables were extra at £3.50. There was a two page wine list with a few surprisingly ambitious bottles. The list began at £17, with wines such as Tempus Merlot Valle Centrale 2011 at £20 for a wine that you can find in the high street for around £8, Senorio de Sotilla Reserva 2006 at £35 for a wine that retails at around £16, and Gerard Seguin La Justice Gevrey Chambertin Cote De Nuit 2006 at £59.50 for a wine that will set you back around £20 in a shop. There were some grander wines, such as Albert Bichot Du Clos Frantin Grand Cru Echezeaux Flagey Cote De Nuit 2005 at £220 for a wine that costs £104, and even Chateau Lafite 1992 at £1,200 for a wine that will set you back about £554 to buy.
Tomato bread was made from scratch in the kitchen, which is admirable, but unfortunately was rather dried out (1/10). Scallops with broad bean puree were served with crushed Iberico chorizo and garnished with micro leaves. The scallops (supplied from a company called Coast Seafood in Poole) were correctly cooked, though not trimmed particularly well, and the scallops themselves lacked much sweetness. The broad bean puree also lacked flavour, but the chorizo was an interesting idea, though the overall effect was to add rather too much salt to the dish. Still, I have had much worse scallops (easily 2/10).
Duck (magret du canard) was served with asparagus, green beans, carrots, orange and mint with tamarind and shallot jus. The first version that appeared (despite my emphasising that I wanted it cooked pink when I ordered it) was no such thing, visibly, and obviously overcooked, so I asked the kitchen to try again. This time the duck came back pink, but the duck pieces were sinewy and very hard to cut, even with a sharp meat knife. The vegetables were cooked properly but the orange, in itself a reasonable idea, was too dominant a taste. The duck was pretty much inedible, and I gave up after trying to hack my way through a few of the slices. The duck was supplied by a local butcher Mackens, who are usually competent, so I am puzzled as to why this particular duck was so sinewy (0/10).
Dessert was on somewhat surer ground, with apple crumble with cinnamon, and what purported to be vanilla ice cream. The latter was evidently bought in rather than made, and entirely lacked vanilla taste. The crumble itself was reasonable, though there was little crumble so it was more of an apple compote; still, this was perfectly decent if a little on the mushy side (1/10).
The bill came to £26 including service for a three course lunch, with just mineral water to drink and no coffee. By comparison, at the time of writing La Trompette offered a lunch menu (every day except Sunday) for £27.50 for 3 courses and Hedone a three course lunch for £25, and with the best will in the world these restaurants are a world apart in cooking standard. The restaurant seems to be doing quite good business, at least in the evenings, and I suspect much of this is down to the charm of its manager, Leo, who was welcoming and seemed quite switched on, though a bit overtly commercial (his “favourite” dishes on the menu just happened to be the ones with supplements). I was also surprised that no effort was made to adjust the bill for the virtually untouched duck.