By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor @TLE_Food
Having first opened its doors in November, M is the relatively new, debut solo venture from Gaucho’s Managing Director Martin Williams. Located just a stones throw from The Royal Exchange, on Threadneedle Street, the restaurant’s downstairs is split into two contrasting dining concepts, while the upstairs features a range of private areas as well as a well equipped cocktail bar. The most popular of the two M restaurants – Grill – specialises in high-end steaks, (as would be expected from the former Gaucho man’s new venture) with a menu that ranges from an Onglet Hanger Steak for less than £20, all the way up to a tiny fillet of luxurious Kobe Beef at a whopping £150, all of which is aged on site. The other restaurant onsite is the slightly menacing, at first, M Raw, with its focus on Sashimi, Tartar, Tiradito, Cured and Smoked meat and fish.
And following the recent trend of adventurously dining upon all things uncooked, I decided to head along to the Raw side of the restaurant. Beginning with a delicious American Dandy cocktail (Woodford Reserve Whiskey, dry vermouth, cherry liqueur, Ratafia, chocolate syrup) in the upstairs bar, before heading downstairs, soundtracked by some reassuring 1980s pop gems and surrounded by suited city workers enjoying a swift post-work beverage. After a while of pondering the raw treats on the menu, we opted to order two more sensational cocktails “Ocean Drive” (Bacardi Gold, Blackwell dark rum, Falernum liqueur, dry curaçao, lime, orange, pineapple juice) and “Secret Geisha” (Tanqueray gin, melon liqueur, lychee, lime juice and Aperol), both of which provided a refreshing accompaniment to the starters. The Rainbow Trout Tiradito was delicious, married with wafer thin slices of yellow fin Tuna, trout and scallop, while the scallop and bacon dish was satisfactory; featuring finely sliced raw scallop, sweet apple compote and a rich bacon crumb, yet an extra element of crunch wouldn’t have been remiss.
Soon followed by two huge bowls of Ramen, each filled with a concoction of thin noodles, spring onion, Bird’s Eye chilies, bamboo shoots, nori, mushrooms and a slow cooked egg. One with pork belly as the main attraction, and Black Cod in the other, delivered to the table with a pot of broth poured into the bowls by the waiter. A tasty dish with impressive flaky Black Cod with the runny egg yolk complimenting the broth deliciously, yet the moisture absorbing mushrooms provided a rather unwelcome supplement to the otherwise enjoyable main course, and a little more spice to accompany the cocktail of flavours would’ve been favourable. Also joined by a taste tantalising crispy potato salad served with crunchy bacon. Meanwhile, my partner’s dessert was an interesting finale – a ginger Tocino served with granola as well as a scoop of raspberry sorbet, while this writer’s palate yearned for the refreshing trio of sorbets, featuring three flavours: passion fruit, strawberry and a delicious blackberry.
While the food on offer at Raw does showcase a fine display of culinary finesse, it’s the extensive cocktail list that came as the most impressive of the restaurant’s features. Fussy eaters beware, but the experience at Raw is a must for diners looking to keep up with the recent trend for adventurously prepared proteins.
M Raw can be found at 2 & 3 Threadneedle Walk, 60 Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8HP.