Tucked away from the Christmas chaos that permeates Oxford Street, is a beautiful brasserie just a moment from the hidden oasis of Marylebone High Street. One of my favourite villages in the centre of London, Marylebone has a quirky, old-fashioned charm that epitomises genteel London. With beautiful gingerbread mansion buildings, a cozy community feel and a gathering of boutique shops you forget that the hubbub of Oxford Street is just a 10 minute walk away.
Starting the evening with a pre-meal aperitif in the beautifully appointed 1920s-feel bar my dinner date (the infamous Mr Kiwi) and I caught up on the events of each others day and enjoyed the gentle hubbub of our fellow imbibers. An intriguing mix of business people and small groups, it was pleasantly busy even on a Tuesday evening. We chose a delicious New Zealand Sauvingnon Blanc which took us through to the end of the meal (and a cheekily refreshing Meantime beer).
Glasses finished we were smoothly seated in the Brasserie and tempted to began with a selection of their hand-carved bread – a bevy of sourdough, soda bread, Guinness brown bread – and their rich, salted butter whilst perusing the menu. Our sweet French waiter proudly told us that the sourdough and Guinness Bread (a speciality hearkening from the Irish ancestry of the Doyle Collection) were made by hand in house by the chef. My personal favourite was the Guinness bread, sweet, delightfully treacly and almost erring on the side of cake (perfect at any time of the day) gave us ample time to choose.
I decided to try my favourite – the Devonshire Crab Cocktail – whilst my better half sampled the soup of the day – Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato. Served with a touch of panache in a tall stemmed martini glass, the crab cocktail was a tasty combination of lightly dressed crab with a base of avocado and a surprising addition of complementary apple lightly match-sticked. It seems to be a popular selection – we saw a fair few wing their way to satisfied diners throughout the evening.
The Butternut Soup was declared delicious (the fact that he said it was even better than mine didn’t go unnoticed, but he defended his call even with the threat of spending the night on the sofa for it…) If you’re a sea-foodie the starter menu is perfect, but the only small trouble we had was my Mr Kiwi struggled a touch to choose a starter – he isn’t a fan of seafood, goats cheese, charcuterie or pig’s cheeks – and I have a few friends who would struggle with the same.
Our mains soon made their way to our table much to our delight from Chef Russell Ford’s bustling ‘modern British’ kitchen. I always swear I won’t, but can never resist the lamb at 108 Brasserie – living up to cultural stereotypes – because it’s always mouthwatering. The cut for our evening was the slow-cooked breast of Lamb, and it was divine. Delicate rounds of melt in your mouth morsels, with a beautifully crispy outer, it paired delectably with a green mint sauce, and creamy freshness of the celeriac remoulade – a classic dish beautifully executed.
Mr Kiwi chose his all-time favourite, a seared Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak – well done – which was pronounced perfect. Perfectly cooked and accompanied with horseradish, he enjoyed every morsel. We visited another restaurant the week before in the same price bracket, where he had ordered the same, only to receive a tough piece of gristley meat, so it had a lot to live up to.
We shared a selection of sides; perfectly creamed mashed potatoes, steamed spinach (not swimming in butter as many restaurants are wont to do) and a selection of heirloom carrots. Not only did the carrots look gorgeous presented in their small silver pots, but were perfectly seasoned with fresh herbs and a honey glaze.
With such rich and succulent mains, we both agreed a lighter dessert was in order. Ice-cream was on Mr Kiwi’s mind and presented with a dazzlingly long recited list of sorbets and ice-creams, he chose a lovely vanilla (always a good level to mark the standard with), a rich milk chocolate and cutting lime sorbet; combined on the spoon to evoke Chocolate Limes, his favourite sweets.
|The delectable cake selection available in the neighbouring Pantry where afternoon tea is served.|
I, on the other hand, was incredibly indecisive until our waiter heartily recommend the Josper grilled pineapple served with a chilli and lime glaze, and coconut sorbet. What a fabulously unusual dessert – light, sweet without cloying and a wonderful piquancy of chilli and lime. The service we received throughout the meal was perfect, attentive without being annoying, our glasses were quietly topped up and empty dishes vanished from the table only to be continually replaced at a perfect speed.
Having declined the offer of a post-meal tea or coffee (we couldn’t enjoy another bite) two cheeky morsels appeared on our table. An indulgent chocolate truffle coated in cocoa, Mr Kiwi tried his best to tell me I “wouldn’t like it” in order to snare my exquisite piece of chocolate heaven. Regardless to say it didn’t work.
We adore the Marylebone hotel – with a rather plain exterior it contains a careful selection of beautiful art d’objects – from the beautifully tiled hotel entrance to the unique French light fixtures, and each of the different rooms are perfect for whiling away a social evening with friends, colleagues and even a special night spending quality time with your cheeky other half.
We loved the airy, classy art deco touches of the newly refurbished brasserie, a luxurious palette of marble, rich maroon furnishings and perfectly accented fittings (though in the atmospherically subdued lighting my terrible camera doesn’t flatter them particularly).
All in all 108 Brasserie at the Marylebone Hotel serves a particularly delicious meal in beautiful surroundings, every single time. What more could you need?