Call me utterly biased, but you can’t beat Marylebone on a sunny evening. Elegant with a side of eccentricity, a few minutes walk from the chaos of Oxford Street, the quiet streets of Marylebone are alive with contented chatter and the occasional clink of glasses.
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of 108 Marylebone but my (very many) opinions
only ever my own, and proof is in the pudding (and the many, many times I have visited.)
Many of the lanes are ringed with period facades, leafy nooks and boutiques perfect for window shopping dreamily. We may have wandered through several of the above before arriving at our dinner date destination, The Marylebone Hotel, or more specifically the 108 Marylebone Brasserie.
The aging twosome that we are, we booked a super early table, and were
rewarded with a lovely corner table, perfect for people watching as the
early birds began to drift in.
#sigh, beautiful Marylebone terraces
Meaning to be well-behaved we were 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 waiter proudly told us
that the Guinness bread (a speciality hearkening from the
Irish ancestry of the Doyle Collection) and soda bread are made by hand in-house every day by
the chef. My personal favourite was the Guinness bread, sweet,
treacly and almost erring on the side of cake (perfect at any time of
the day) gave us ample time to choose.
My appetite fought with the urge to try something new, but like a comfortable scarf, I simply couldn’t resist the siren call of the roast rack of new season lamb with spring vegetables, a green garlic and Bosworth Ash goat’s cheese gratin plus a serving of the honey carrots, another favourite. Served pink, the lamb is everything you want it to be, delicate and flavorsome with a beautifully charred edge of fat. My date (the infamous) Mr Kiwi, went for the Marylebone Hamburger (you can take the boy out of Grimsby…) but wasn’t as impressed, finding the meat rather under seasoned.
If I had to describe 108 in 3 words, it would be elegant simple flavours. We both picked the monthly special (a brand new initiative) of Yorkshire Rhubarb and Custard, a perfect Spring dish if ever we tried one. Beautifully light, the delicate layers of rhubarb and custard layers melted in our mouths, paired with pickled rhubarb adding just the right level piquancy. Dressed with custard and a spiral of rhubarb waffle we couldn’t keep our forks still.
Whenever we visit, we are looked after so well that it’s hard to leave whether just having a tipple in the gorgeous bar or a more formal evening meal. In fact as we arrived slightly early, the staff were trying out the dish of the day in order to genuinely recommend it to customers – as someone who worked in a few lovely restaurants myself it makes such a difference. The executive head chef Russell Ford (with a CV including The Dorchester, Michelin starred Le Medirian and The Grove) is keeping one of my favourite restaurants just the way I love it – uncomplicated and delicious.
As I took my new camera out for a spin (with mixed results as it’s still early days yet) we mentally checked that ‘our’ window seat in 108 Pantry was ready for us to pop back for afternoon tea, reminisced over the girly dinners those walls have witnessed and the evenings testing the delicious Josper Grill that we need to re-live soon.
Oh, and a rare, cheeky mirror selfie because why not?
Simple, elegant luxury. Dinner date perfection.
Oh, did I mention the local churches that look like fairy-tale castles?
One happy Emma.