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Restaurant Review: Marcus at The Berkeley, Knightsbridge in London

strawberry-pistachio

Named after one of Britain’s most celebrated chefs, the two Michelin starred eatery, Marcus, in Knightsbridge’s The Berkeley Hotel is a force to be reckoned with on London’s fine dining scene.

Mr. Wareing had and still has his fingers in many pies including running two other restaurants, regularly appearing on BBC’s Great British Menu and MasterChef; The Professionals, acting as consultant chef on Hollywood movie, Burnt (2015), as well as cooking for the Queen.

Heading up the kitchen here is 23 year old, Jake White, who has been working here for 5 years, taking on the role of head chef at the beginning of 2016. The young, overly confident (well, wouldn’t you be?) chef describes his style of cooking as classic and simplistic in terms of having fewer quality led ingredients on the plate and letting them speak for themselves. The menu changes twice a season and he is looking to put his stamp on the place in a few ways including introducing signature dishes that can evolve with the changing seasons.

My visit to Marcus took place in the middle of summer and I sampled the tasting menu – ‘Taste of summer.’ I had a lunchtime booking and, upon arrival to the five star hotel with my guest, Nick, was shown to a table by a window. A curved shared long leather seat aside an oval table faced into the room, meaning we could fully take in the décor as well as the action in the room. We were well distanced from the other tables and the ambience was very elegant, refined and relaxed. We didn’t feel it was at all stuffy, we weren’t afraid to talk and laugh and it was busy with chatter but not loud or disruptive.

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Marcus holds two coveted Michelin stars

Dark wood effect walls hold mirrored archways, which frame the tall windows and doorways and there are plenty of wall and ceiling lights to keep the room aglow. Dark glittered pillars and wall panels, which hold small framed artwork add a touch of glamour and varying table shapes sit on a carpeted floor. Refurbished in 2014 to shake off the stuffiness and bring in flexible, relaxed dining, the restaurant really does the trick offering a comfortable, yet classy dining space.

A glass of rose Champagne was swiftly brought our way along with a selection of canapés consisting of crab with a lime dressing, mozzarella in a light crumb with a pesto sauce and a confit lamb beignet, which had juicy meat inside with a crispy outer. Canapés done and we were brought a small loaf of potato and fennel bread, which was very crispy – I might have wanted a mini selection if I was feeling picky.

Course one of the tasting menu arrived and it consisted of Burrata, heirloom tomato and apricot. This was served with a glass of white wine (Muller Thurgau, Cantina Andrian, Trentino Alto-Adige, Italy 2015) to lift the salty cheese and to complement the sweet fruits. The cheese had a stringy, almost marshmallowy, texture and was well paired with the sweet apricot and juicy plump tomato. It was a great way to start the meal with a colourful, refreshing, juicy salad – delicious.

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The À la carte menu offers you the flexibility to choose from 3, 4 or 5 courses and is priced from £85 per guest and is available from Monday to Friday

Course two was ‘roasted baby gem, girolle, truffle honey’ and was served with glass of Chardonnay (“Gran Reserva” Viu Manent, Valle de Casablanca, Chile 2013). The plate was littered with thinly sliced (Australian, I was told) truffle and was a gorgeous dish. I didn’t think it was possible to like lettuce this much, I mean, I’ll eat a salad if I have to but this had been chargrilled and the smell and taste was far superior to anything I’ve had at home. It is an impressive skill to take an everyday ingredient and elevate it to such a level with the truffle (of which there was plenty) and sweet honey, which came through at the end of a bite. The combination of creamy (sauce), spongy (mushrooms), bitty (truffle) and semi crunchy (lettuce) were great and the flavours were divine. Nick described the wine pairing as a “crisp, clean wine that goes down a treat” and he absolutely loved it. I adored this dish, it was one one of my favourites overall – a ten out of ten for me.

Course three of cod, Italian beans and lettuce smelled wonderful and looked very fresh and summery with the green and off white ingredients sitting on a white plate. The cod was wonderful, falling apart on my fork and melting delicately in my mouth. It was paired nicely with the green, earthy beans and lettuce and the flavour of the lobster stock, in which it was cooked, came through gently.

Each dish so far offered something different in terms of taste and originality. You are not rushed at all, in fact there is a good amount of time between each course for you to relax and the staff are all very much on the ball and well informed about the food and wines. The service was impeccable and the staff were smartly dressed with plenty of them to keep the restaurant running with ease.

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The 8 course Taste menu starts at £120, and allows guests to experience all of Marcus’s favourite seasonal dishes, hand-picked and prepared by Chef on the day

We could choose from two options for the ‘main’ course – number four – so we opted for one each. I had the 60 day aged sirloin with Cornish new potatoes and a Bois Boudrin dressing, while Nick went for the chargrilled Cumbrian veal neck with beetroot and Tropea onion. Both were served with a glass of red (Friuli Colli Orientali, “Ribolla Nera”, Ronchi di Cialla, Friuli, Italy 2012) and, when poured, was talked of it not only complementing the flavours in the dishes but also the textures.

My dish held a great quality piece of beef, which was juicy and tender, for the most part. Some of it took a bit of sawing through and was therefore impossible to chew but most of it was divine, especially with the warming, spicy sauce and potatoes. Overall there were gorgeous, full, rich flavours aided beautifully by the sumptuous wine, which I found soothing and could have consumed all day long! Nick described his dish as having lovely sweet, smoky and sharp flavours with a really good piece of meat, which fell apart with its tenderness. Pickled gherkins added crunch and flavour, while the sweet, sharp, fruity beetroot really complemented the juicy, flavoursome veal.

We were offered an extra course of cheeses, which we both eagerly accepted. Ten (yes, ten!) cheeses from England, Ireland, France, Germany and Switzerland were laid out on a plate and were a glorious mixture of soft, hard and blues from goats, ewes and cows. A pineapple and chilli chutney was there to complement as well as a fantastic selection of breads, oatcakes and crackers. Great cheesy aromas were emanating from the plate and we loved every choice.

Marcus at The Berkeley
Marcus is located in The Berkeley, Knightsbridge

Course six of poached peach, pain perdu and elderflower was simple in presentation with tantalising flavours. Smooth elderflower ice cream sat on top of a piece of airy, warm pain perdu and the juicy, delicate sweet peach had a lovely syrup poured over, the taste reminding me of childhood flans. The three ingredients were simple alone but delicious together. Three flavours, textures and temperatures worked in unison to create a perfect summer dish – another ten out of ten from me!

The final course of ‘nutmeg and custard’ was a delicate tart with a thin pastry base, chunk of custard with a great wobble and a harder nutmeg flavoured top. A fruity berry coulis on the side elevated the simple flavours and it was a creamy and delicious end to the meal. Before we headed off we enjoyed some petit fours and a hot drink – probably a good idea as the wine had had a very positive effect on us both. A dark chocolate with a smooth bergamot inner, a coconut nougat and a mini cappuccino with little textures were the sweet offerings, which we polished off with ease. We certainly didn’t leave full to the brim, which I can’t decide is a good thing or not, but we did leave with rather big smiles on our faces.

In a nutshell
The meal was a wonderful showcase of summery flavours and ingredients with sweet, savoury, rich and delicate all coming together to create a pretty excellent meal and experience.

Address: The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RL / +44 (0)20 7235 6000