Everyone’s favorite eponymous
soccer, ahem, football coach Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) is back! The long-awaited and highly anticipated third – and possibly final – season of the hit Apple TV+ series and Emmy darling finally debuted last month, bringing with it some major changes for our beloved AFC Richmonders! While the feelgood dramedy exudes the same upbeat heart and kind spirit as always, with the eternally optimistic Lasso enthusiastically leading his team through another year of ups and downs, new episodes chronicle the fallout of Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) and Keeley Jones’ (Juno Temple) breakup, Rebecca Welton’s (Hannah Waddingham) recruitment of star player Zava (Maximilian Osinski) and Jamie Tartt’s (Phil Dunster) disdain over no longer being the number one Greyhound. And, in what is perhaps the season’s most significant departure, midfielder Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh) is seen outside of the locker room operating in full restaurant mode while preparing to open his new Nigerian eatery, Ola’s, which he named in honor of his father, Ola Obisanya (Nonso Anozie).
Standing firm is “Lasso’s” British backdrop. Set and filmed in and around London, the series, currently ranking as Apple TV+’s “most popular show by far,” according to viewer stats compiled by JustWatch, continues to make use of several familiar spots from seasons past. The Crown & Anchor (which in reality is The Prince’s Head pub in Richmond) remains the preferred hangout of Ted and Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), as well as Greyhound fans citywide. And the SkyEx Community Stadium and Selhurst Park Stadium both still portray the AFC Richmond headquarters. Also making a reappearance as Ola’s is Daquise, one of London’s most historic establishments.
Located just a couple miles west of Central London at 20 Thurloe St. in South Kensington, the eatery was originally founded over seven decades ago and has the distinction of being the area’s oldest Polish restaurant.
Initially opened in 1947, the site’s unusual moniker came about thanks to founder Tomasz Dakowski, who, according to the Koffmann & Vines website, “conflated his name with that of his French wife, Louise.” To house his new eatery, Tomasz chose a charming corner spot wrapped in floor-to-ceiling windows that is previously said to have “served as a canteen to take the overflow from the nearby Polish Club (Ognisko Polskie) during the war.”
At the time of its inception, London was experiencing an influx of Polish soldiers relocating to the area as communist rule began to take hold of their homeland following the end of World War II. Daquise became a haven for those ex-pats hoping for a traditional meal, as well as many from the Government of the Republic of Poland in exile, aka the Polish government-in-exile, including its president Edward Raczyński, who, per the restaurant’s website, “anointed Daquise his unofficial headquarters and planned many campaigns to overthrow the Communist regime from our tables.” British model Christine Keeler and Soviet naval attaché Yevgeny Ivanov, who both figured prominently in the Profumo affair during the 1960s, were also known to frequent the place, as did director Roman Polanski while in town shooting his 1965 psychological horror film “Repulsion.”
Quaint, inviting and warmly lit, Daquise is a relic of London past, upholding “an almost monastic resistance to change” throughout its lifetime, as described by The Guardian. Case in point? When the place was gutted by a fire in 2006, the then-owners rebuilt it precisely as it formerly stood. By way of explanation, the manager told The Evening Standard, “Our customers don’t like change. At one point, we decided it would be nice to play a bit of classical music in the background, but one of our regulars got up a petition to complain about it and that was the end of that.”
Transition finally came courtesy of the Gessler family, a successful group of Polish restauranteurs who purchased the site in 2009 and proceeded to revamp the interior with a more upscale flair, swapping the linoleum and plastic tablecloths that once peppered the space with unfinished wide-plank wood flooring and white linens, respectively, a handsome line of velvet booths edging the main wall. The menu was also given a glow-up, as was the name, which was rebranded as “Gessler at Daquise.”
While loathe to change, the regulars continued to patronize the place until it shuttered unexpectedly in 2013. It was ultimately resurrected by the previous proprietors and is still going strong today. Despite the ownership shifts, Daquise’s “almost monastic resistance to change” charm remains firmly intact. Walking into the space, with its yellow-hued walls, shiny white tiling and historical photographs, feels like a step back in time.
Chock full of authentic Polish specialties, the menu is a throwback as well. In the attractive confines, Daquise guests can partake of such traditional offerings as borscht, beef goulash with brandy and buckwheat, marinated beetroot with horseradish sauce, and cheese, potato and onion pierogies, most prepared tableside. The Something Curated website notes, “Daquise certainly understands the importance of theatre when it comes to the experience of dining. Mains are assembled directly at the table from well-worn saucepans, carried by the chefs who lovingly prepared the dishes.”
Of the fare, culinary critic Robin Ashenden effused, it’s “some of the best [food] I’ve eaten in 30 years of dining out in London.” The site is also notably a favorite of The Times’ longtime former restaurant critic Jonathan Meades.
And in a fun twist, Ola’s is even getting some print love from reporter Trent Crimm (James Lance), aka “Trent Crimm – The Independent,” thanks to an amusing mockup review created by Reddit user u/uberfunction.
Daquise first pops up at the end of “Ted Lasso’s” second season. It is there that eccentric billionaire Edwin Akufo (Sam Richardson) takes Obisanya for a traditional West African meal in an attempt to woo him into joining his new football club in the penultimate episode, “Midnight Train to Royston.” When the soccer player notes that he never knew the eatery existed, Akufo replies, “It doesn’t. I had it created for us. Brought in my own chefs. I travel often and I know what it is like to miss the food from home.” Sam is later shown purchasing the vacant space to open an actual Nigerian eatery of his own in the finale, titled “Inventing the Pyramid of Success.”
The locale plays a far more significant role this season, with Obisanya dedicated to getting Ola’s off the ground and the exterior of Daquise making several appearances throughout.
While the real interior of Daquise was featured in “Midnight Train to Royston,” for season three, the space was re-created by production designer Paul Cripps on a soundstage at West London Film Studios in Hayes, which serves as the show’s home base. As Jimoh recently told TV Insider, “There’s a lot to come with the restaurant. It’s a really important and significant place for him.” So it is no surprise that the production team opted to build a set for the many scenes taking place there, as it is far easier and more convenient for cast and crew to shoot in a controlled environment than on location at a real, working eatery. (That’s the set pictured above from the episode titled “4-5-1.”)
Unlike The Crown & Anchor set, which was painstakingly modeled upon the interior of The Prince’s Head pub, the Ola’s re-creation, while inspired by Daquise, bears a few prominent differences, namely the addition of a rounded bar and an open concept kitchen in the rear portion of the restaurant.
In real life, that area of Daquise instead features table seating, an antique buffet and windows overlooking the street outside. Despite the alterations, visiting the eatery truly feels like stepping into Ola’s, surely a thrill for any “Ted Lasso” fan.