By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
“Well at least Michel Roux came to greet us,” one ageing gentleman bellows from a few tables away, adapting the audacity of a dated Town Crier. Unfortunately Marcus Wareing isn’t present at his mother ship restaurant at The Berkeley Hotel but he can be forgiven the day off, especially due to an injury that he’s currently recovering from, as was explained on our earlier tour of the surprisingly calm kitchen. In fact, if that’s the restaurant’s only flaw, then that really does say it all in regards to what’s on offer at Marcus. When a restaurant has been awarded with one prestigious Michelin Star, the customer’s expectations do tend to soar through the roof, so to speak. Thus when an institution is one of only nine restaurants within London to hold two stars, the expectancy rate excels to heights that are almost unimaginable.
Thankfully, our recent lunchtime visit to Marcus at The Berkeley was incredibly difficult to find serious fault with. Choosing from the A La Carte menu with Wareing’s trademark simplicity when it comes to description (instead listing the key ingredients), spoiling us for choice with four starters that sound so delicious we’d happily have settled for one of each to make up our four course feast. Made up of Orkney Scallops, Veal Sweetbreads, Wood Pigeon and the controversial, yet delicious, choice of Foie Gras. Opting for the latter two, between the two of us, the Pigeon breast was cooked to perfection, yet it was the breaded Confit leg that stole our attention. Meanwhile, the Foie Gras was offered in two different ways: either pan-fried or as a Terrine. Upon finding out that a slice of toasted Brioche would accompany, the Terrine was impossible to resist, featuring a trio of Blood Orange accompaniments with a refreshing citric acidity to cut the richness of the liver.
Moving on to the “Middle” course, Marcus’ crack team of accomplished chefs were still blessed with plenty of time to disappoint. Fortunately the comfortable sized fillet of Halibut with Sweet Potato was marvellous. Coated in a Langoustine and Saffron sauce, featuring so much of the expensive spice that the sauce had taken on a vibrant shade of terracotta. By the time we’d moved on to our main courses, we’d become quite comfortably full, yet the high standards that we’d already experienced would manage to appeal to any food enthusiast’s inner glutton. Suckling Pig with a Cider jus is always a welcome menu accompaniment when executed properly as is a perfectly cooked Duck breast, albeit ever so slightly overcooked for one’s personal preference. Served with a treat of Pomme Purée, expensive at £10 but the amount of Truffle shavings on top does perhaps account for the double figure price tag. In fact, the slightly pretentious topping does become unnecessary, to be honest, especially when the creamy Potato’s smoothness is on par with Bill Withers.
“A posh Snickers bar” (as the chef himself describes it) is for dessert. A spread of Toffee, topped with peanut and indulgent chocolate. The master chef, himself, may have been absent, but the food on offer at Marcus provides an ultimate reminder of Michelin’s reasoning for regarding the dining experience as one of the finest on offer within our capital.
Marcus can be found at The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7RL