Marylebone High Street is one of my favourite places in London. It is one of the few places in the city that still has that proper 'high street' feel (only Richmond also springs to mind), and is the home to some of my favourite shops and date night bars. Yesterday my Mummy and I were invited along to sample the lunch menu at the newly refurbished 108 Brasserie on Marylebone Lane, so we sandwiched it between cookbook browsing in Daunt Books and cookware gawking in the new Divermenti store, and a trip to the Selfridges Shoe Hall.
Hidden away from the hustle and bustle, 108 Marylebone Lane is an eatery in three parts. You have the Pantry, full of comfy armchairs, roaring fires and lots and lots of coffee and cake. They serve an afternoon tea, but they also have an all day menu which I should think is great to nibble on over meetings. I'll certainly be making it my meetings spot in the area. They also have a beautiful bar which I'll be heading back to for pre-dinner cocktails at the next opportunity; I've posted a few photos once we've had the chance to explore some of the food we enjoyed in the red leather, white marble and silver mirrored brasserie dining room.
I started with the Octopus Carpaccio with Tomato and Chilli Dressing. The dressing come salsa was bright and vibrant, and the octopus was perfectly tender. Any octopus fan will tell you that tough tendrils are the worst (last time I had octopus served like this was in San Sebastian, where only about half my pixos were chewable!) If you like your octopus, for the clean flavour as well as the texture, I'd really recommend this dish, though if you like your seafood but are not completely convinced by things with tentacles, I have another, if not more delicious option for you. Don't get me wrong, my starter was delicious, but I still had order envy.
Meet the Seared Tuna with a Soy and Ginger Dressing and Pickled Radishes. In all honestly, the pictures don't really do the one bite of brilliance I nabbed justice. The tuna was sweet and tender. The sauce was rich, umami and more-ish, and the radishes added that hint of heat and sourness the dish needed. Just order this.
London was even colder than Canterbury was yesterday, so I was really in an Autumnal mood. For me, this means that I order pheasant pretty much every time I see it on the menu. Not only done right is it one of my favourite game birds to have roasted, but it is very easy to dry out so a very good test of a restaurant. It was served with game chips (light and crunchy), a nice thin gravy, a bit of green and a little jug of bread sauce. The breast and leg were cooked to perfection and lovely and tender, and I honestly could not fault the dish. Well, okay. The bread sauce was completely smooth which I found strange considering how it is made, but chalk that one up to personal preference; I simply just like it with a bit of bite.
Mummy had the Seared Aberdeen Angus Sirloin Steak. You have two options to order a big or a small piece, which she really liked. She's only little (even shorter than me!) so when we go out for a three course lunch together she usually struggles to finish; the option of ordering a smaller, lighter size meant she could really enjoy her meal without feeling too full and bloated at the end of it. Her lovely, medium rare (the only way they'll cook it) steak came sliced on a horseradish sauce, and topped off with two crispy onion rings, watercress and a few shavings of parmesan. Beautiful presentation, and a good mingling of flavours.
For a side, we did toy with ordering fries or hand cut chips, but again, as it was seasonably chilly out we opted for a dish of red wine braised cabbage instead. I don't like to go overboard on my food descriptions if I can help it, so I'll just tell you it was just how it ought to be; crisp but not uncooked, and delicately spiced without being overwhelming. This was a good lesson in being more adventurous with my sides.
For dessert, my Mother ordered the one we both really wanted the most, the Autumn Spiced Fruit Crumble (made with apples, pears and plums) served with a good scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. It was perfect, and tasted just like one of the crumbles she makes, which is the highest of compliments. Good, comforting, simple English food on a chilly day. (You can find her crumble topping recipe here, if you're interested!)
I had the Josper Grilled Pineapple, served with a scoop of homemade coconut milk sorbet (which was light and refreshing, tasting exactly like coconut milk with nothing added or taken away) and some chilli and lime zest. Last time I ordered grilled pineapple in a restaurant it was a bit unripe and flavourless, but following on from the first two courses I was sure that it would be at least okay. Well, it was sweet, juicy and makes a perfect option if you're looking to finish your meal off with something a little bit lighter.
As promised, I'm going to leave you with a few pictures of their great looking bar that I will be heading back to visit. Don't 'The 108 Edition', the 'Kiwi Fizz' and 'Collin's Daughter' all sound like fantastic cocktails? (You can see the cocktail menu here) Also, I could see from my little photography mission that the bar snacks look wonderful and nibbly, too.
Have any of you been to 108 Brasserie before? I'd love to hear about any bar or Pantry experiences. Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram to stay updated with a few more of my restaurant adventures in London this week; on Saturday I'm off to Greenwich to sample a new bakery, and on Sunday I'm heading back to my old stomping ground of Shorditch to try out one of the newest places to get a gourmet version of that East London staple: fried chicken.