There’s something extremely Christmassy about the narrow roads that lead up to Marylebone from Bond Street, with wrapped-up-warm diners eating al fresco outside cosy restaurants and twinkling lights that have infinitely more festive cheer than the tasteless illuminations of Oxford Street dazzling from above. With a warm, wintery feeling inside, it was comforting to know that we’d be eating at 108 Marylebone Lane; Hg2 has eaten there before in a non-professional capacity, and remembered it being a ‘quintessential neighbourhood restaurant’ – as described by the venue itself – serving the kind of hearty fare that is craved when the nights draw in and it’s a bit brisk outside.
Found at the back of The Marylebone Hotel – which, it has to be said, is a fabulous entity in itself – the restaurant’s interiors have an earthy vibe about them with a rich colour palette of warm reds, burnt oranges and chocolatey browns. The space itself is split into two sections; on the left is a bar area flanked by after-work suits in search of after-work tipples to take the edge off; on the right is a buzzing brasserie-style dining room, which is filled with the same suits but with ties loosened, top buttons undone and jackets on the back of chairs. Indeed, if the Passion 108 – a mix of Bacardi, fresh passion fruit, caramel syrup and lime – can’t help you unwind after a long day at the office, then nothing will.
After a drink (or three!) in the bar we moved into the restaurant where we were shown to the best seats in the house beside a floor-to-ceiling-window (people-watching on all sides). Olga, the extremely charming and charismatic maître’ d, made sure that we were kept in the manner to which we’ve become accustomed with friendly banter, informed recommendations and genuine charisma; after being served rather crisp glasses of chablis (again, Olga’s suggestion), we were left to peruse the menu. With an emphasis on fresh local produce, the food is simple British cuisine done well and presented with French flare.
For starters we indulged in a dish of John Ross Scottish Smoked Salmon served with Fennel Salad, Caper and Red Onion Dressing followed by a Salad of Smoked Gressingham Duck Breast with Glazed Figs and Quince Dressing. Both were lovely and light on the stomach, but the salmon pipped the duck to the palette post with a zesty taste that reminded us instantly of Christmas. While the main courses that appear on the menu span everything from monkfish to sausages, there are two undisputed highlights; the Roast Rack of New Season Cornish Lamb served with Ratatouille Cous Cous and Rosemary Sauce and the Honey-Mustard Glazed Suffolk Pork Belly with Cider and Apple Sauce and Sage Polenta Chips. With both plates being served all around us we couldn’t resist, and would have licked the plates clean if it was socially acceptable (or indeed, professional). The lamb fell off the bone and was arguably one of the most tender racks we’d ever head the pleasure of getting our teeth around, while the pork was suitably rich and heartwarming. Wrapping things up nicely were a couple of decadent (read; unnecessary) desserts; the White Chocolate Cup and Bailey’s Mousse with Warm Orange Madeline and the Warm Chocolate Brownie with Rum-Caramelised Banana.
As one of London’s most underrated restaurants, 108 Marylebone proved its culinary credentials once again; it has oodles of charm, lashings of style and the kind of food you’re served at a Michelin-star restaurant without the price tag to make you feel queasy afterwards. In short, a winning formula.
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