By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Last year was a definite triumph for new openings in London, and one of the finest restaurants to launch in Mayfair, in 2015, was also one of the very last. Officially opened in December, just in time to reap an onslaught of acclaim in the coming year, 8 Mount Street is a new brasserie within the heart of one of the area’s most prominent original shopping streets.
What’s also impressive about 8 Mount Street is the fact that the uninventive name (which is almost arrogant) is considerably less pretentious than many of the other local restaurants to have followed the trend in recent years. In fact, the quintessential European brasserie menu created by Adrian Mellor makes 8 Mount Street one of the area’s most accessible restaurants – especially when taking the affluent postcode into consideration.
It seems that the main focus here is, in fact, upon the correct level of elegance. While upmarket enough to splash out and even show off, as was obviously the case of most of the diners on surrounding tables during our recent visit – brazenly boasting while giving the company credit card one last thrashing before Christmas. But there’s also nothing here that’s ludicrously lavish or completely over the top. The crisp white linen and leather blanquettes at each table lend the dining space a touch of formality, but its diluted slightly by the warm brass panelling that adorns the walls and leads into the polished metal flooring. Meanwhile a 30-foot marble bar acts as a prominent feature and includes seats for dining that’s a little more casual. There’s also a separate bar area – Bar Eight – situated downstairs.
As for the menu, the a la carte offering is exceptionally vast, making a single choice from each section almost impossible without the necessary use of some specially crafted chart as a means of decision making. Alternatively, one can always call on the waiter’s expertise for necessary guidance. To commence, a plate of grilled squid was perfectly cooked and served with subtly spiced tomato and onion, delivering an almost Asian flair to the dish. My beetroot salad, on the other hand was prettily-presented, with a colour spectrum of beetroot, orange segments, and pistachio nuts. Both the citrus of the orange and the vinegary dressing, alone, compliment the dish, but together there’s a little too much acidity. The best component of the dish, by far, is the breaded nuggets of fried goats cheese, but with the aforementioned acidity, the combination provides a slightly claggy mouth-feel. Fortunately, my main was much, much better. Given the choice of being served on or off of the bone, the Dover sole was provided alongside an armoury of tools – having opted for the former – to make the process of filleting incredibly easy and even a bit fun. Swamped in lemony brown butter and a heavy handed smattering of chives, the fish was cooked exceptionally, with the fillets practically falling from the bone. A definitive example of elegant simplicity at its best.
To finish, my companion’s lemon tart was sharp and pristine, working as a fine palate cleanser, served with gently cooked meringue. ‘Apple, apple, apple’, meanwhile, featured a celebration of the humble fruit. A shot-glass sized crumble was pleasant enough, alas the miniature tarte tatin would’ve benefitted from being soaked in less toffee. The apple mouse, however, light as a cloud was the standout of the experimental dish. Small quibbles aside, the food at 8 Mount Street is – for the most part – very good. However, it’s the fish in particular that’s most impressive, especially given the extremely local competition from the likes of Scott’s and recently opened Sexy Fish.
The restaurant can be found at 8 Mount Street, London, W1K 3NF.