After almost four months of forced closure, M Restaurants strategised its re-opening on Saturday 4th July. Before opening, the restaurants underwent a vigorous decontamination and sterilisation process, which continues to be carried out at regular intervals; hand sanitiser stations are available at reception and washrooms, with foot pedals; one-way systems are operated; doors are left open where possible to avoid ‘touch pad contamination’; and dining room capacity has been reduced by 30 percent to facilitate social distancing. It’s all been carefully thought out, with guest and staff safety taken into consideration.
As more of us return to eating out, following the colossal success of August’s ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme, M Restaurants has also introduced a brand new menu. Devised by Executive Chef Mike Reid, the new menu’s dishes revolved around categories including ‘Ice’, ‘Coal’, ‘Smoke’, ‘Wood’, and ‘Beef’. The aim is to take inspiration from the finest foods found in countries globally renowned for their unique cuisine, using traditional cooking methods alongside technology “to heighten the dining experience for guests.”
On the launch of the new menu, Executive Chef Mike Reid said: “After the long few months we all had without restaurants I wanted this menu above all else to be fun. I wanted to spread a bit of theatre throughout, so that the dining room becomes our gastro playground. Each dish should be thought provoking in a playful way but above all else just be super tasty and leave you wanting to come back again and again.”
Opened in 2014, M Restaurants’ Threadneedle Street branch was the first of the three restaurant openings, followed by a multifaceted venue on Victoria Street, and M Bar and Grill in Twickenham, which opened in 2017. Founded by Martin Williams and Chef Michael Reid, M Restaurants joined with Gaucho restaurants in 2019, now both led by CEO Martin Williams.
Split into a main restaurant, upstairs bar area, members’ lounge and private dining rooms, the Threadneedle Street restaurant was quieter than expected during a recent late week visit, perhaps due to the fact that many of the city’s offices remain empty (something worth taking advantage of at the moment, when it comes to visiting some of the Square Mile’s best restaurants). Although glamorous, the space is fairly comfortable. Highlights from the new menu included the likes of Native scallop, thinly sliced and served raw, complete with a gorgeous symphony of fig leaf oil, pickled cucumber slivers, cherry blossom vinegar, salmon mousse and grapes, which brought surprising depth to the overall dish featuring bold, often unorthodox flavours, none of which bullied or fell into insignificance. This was expertly matched with a flinty Chablis with good acidity from the restaurant’s extensive by-the-glass selection.
The new menu’s miso mushroom dish, available in two sizes, featured a similarly extensive list of components: King Oyster mushroom, miso, fermented chilli glaze, and mushroom ketchup, all contributing to a profoundly umami flavour profile, while panko breadcrumbs flecked with lemon lent textural depth. A considered vegetarian dish. The same can also be said for the burnt sweet potato, also available in two sizes. An ideal side dish, with the root vegetable’s caramelisation balanced by smoked yoghurt, toasted almonds and chimichurri rife with chilli and vinegar.
A tartare of Wagyu beef arrived at the table under a glass cloche, lifted to reveal a cloud of aromatic smoke and an elegantly presented slab of finely-chopped beef, rampant with horseradish, crowned with slivers of compressed apple and a confit egg yolk. A very well-executed take on the classic dish. Added at the table, the grating of frozen foie gras brought very little to the dish, in regard to taste, nonetheless.
More beef followed, with two steaks highly recommended. Since opening, M Restaurants has developed a reputation for its beef, with a focus on sourcing and ageing on site using Himalayan salt chambers. Kitchens are also specifically designed to handle and cook cuts from different breeds of cattle and countries of origin. Favouring cattle reared on the 289,000 square-mile Las Pampas prairie in Argentina, M Restaurants’ ribeye was cooked over charcoal. Deeply marbled with relatively high fat content, which naturally bastes the steak as it cooks, the result had a mineral quality imparted from the grass eaten by the cows on the plains of Las Pampas, with buttery texture. The kitchen’s onions cooked in full-bodied Malbec are an essential extra, as is the rich beef dripping jus (more of a gravy).
An inside skirt steak, on the other hand, showcased Wagyu beef from Blackmore Wagyu in Australia. Producing 100 percent fullblood Wagyu beef, Blackmore’s supply chain takes four years to complete. The breeding program selects the best genetics to suit Australian conditions, combining Japan’s three most famous Wagyu bloodlines: Itozakura, Kikumidoi, and Okudoi. Exclusive to Blackmore Wagyu, the Okudoi is from the Tajima cow family, a descendant of the only 100 percent Tajima cow ever to be exported from Japan. Blackmore Wagyu’s unique farming methods contribute to the improvement in both the meat and the quality of the animals’ lives, which is reflected in the final product.
Championing an under-loved cut, the use of skirt steak was refreshing compared to restaurants only serving fillet, sirloin, rump, ribeye and occasional larger steaks intended for sharing. Typically tougher than the outside skirt, the Blackmore Wagyu inside skirt benefited from complex marbling, high fat content, and expert cooking. Further proof that when prepared properly, from farm-to-fork, the often under-appreciated cuts are generally the most flavoursome, with potential to be the most desirable by far.
M Restaurants Threadneedle Street can be found at 2-3, 60 Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8HP.