Restaurant Review: The 108 Brasserie in Marylebone, London
During a stay at London’s The Marylebone Hotel I was invited to dine at the adjoining 108 Brasserie with my guest Stacey. Matching Marylebone’s creative and vibrant nature, 108 Brasserie puts its own twist on a traditional French monochrome decor, whilst serving British influenced dishes.
Greeted by the friendly and personable waiting staff we were led to our table in the corner of the brasserie, enabling us to take in the decor on our route. Low lit subtle lighting, including candlelight and small gas lamps, combined with upbeat music, subtly fed across the brasserie, created the vibrancy of an inner city restaurant, whilst also being secluded with a touch of elegance.
We began our dining experience with a glass of Rose Prosecco accompanied with a taster of Irish soda bread, sourdough and Guinness bread. Our waiter, Matyas, had an impeccable knowledge of each bread and their ingredients, with our appetites truly whet by the Guinness bread. Both myself and Stacey were dubious before trying it, as neither of us are particular Guinness fans, however, after taking our first bites, we were immediately converted. Applying a thin layer of the hand churned, salted butter each bite began with the crunch of a crisp outer layer of cracked wheat followed by the moist and smooth texture of the bread with all of the textures complementing each other.
Our starters shortly followed; my choice of starter was the Dorset crab on toast and, when presented with the dish, the colours were immediately striking. Fresh, and light in colour, crab thickly layered on a chunky bed of Guinness bread accompanied by the luscious greens of the watercress and apple and citrus burst of lemon; visually I was impressed. Sourcing local produce is a key theme throughout the menu at 108 Brasserie and it definitely delivered an added element of freshness to the dish. The cold, smooth crab on the slightly warmed bed made for a delicious taste and smooth texture, which then combined with the crunch of the apple and watercress, created a beautifully tasting dish. The added citrus element with a squeeze of the half lemon provided another taste layer, which supplemented the dish well but is not necessarily needed.
Stacey had opted for the Soup of the Day, recommended by Matyas, which consisted of cauliflower and spiced lentils. The use of ginger, paprika, garlic and a dash of cream brought another taste and colour layer to the soup, which Stacey thoroughly enjoyed. Its thick, creamy and hearty texture was “just how soup should be” which after a fresh winter’s day in the heart of London was welcomed with open arms.
In between courses, over a glass of Spanish Rose, we had the opportunity to observe the mixture of guests dining with us, ranging from young couples to a small group celebrating a big birthday, all of whom left with smiles on their faces. The team of waiting staff, I have to say, were very friendly, accommodating to every request and the attention given to each table was impressive making the overall experience one to remember.
The pause between dishes also enabled us to further take in the decor and atmosphere of the restaurant and the bar that sat on a slightly lowered level from the restaurant seating. Also known for its variety of cocktails and drinks, the elegant, dark oak bar was continually flowing with visitors. The slightly more casual area oozes glamour with prominent red leather seating and accentuated dark oak furniture, making it a destination for social drinks in addition to the slightly separated dining area. Unlike some dining experiences featuring a busy bar, it was easy to lose the noise and bustle to enjoy the slightly more elegant and Parisian feel in the restaurant.
Onto our main courses and I had opted for the grilled, off the bone whole lemon sole with a side dish of honey glazed heritage carrots. Golden in colour, the lemon sole not only looked appetising but the flavour was incredible. Biting into the fish it fell apart succulently, with the added texture of grilled skin, which, with the smooth addition of the parsley butter, made sure every bite was as enjoyable as the first. The al-dente honey glazed carrots added extra texture and contrasted well with the soft and delicate texture of the lemon sole, creating a dish that I will definitely look to order again at 108 Brasserie.
Stacey had chosen the namesake burger, The Marylebone, which before even tasting, looked to fit to burst both in filling and flavour. Encased in a toasted, yet soft, bun were layers of cheese, bacon, red onion, gherkins, tomato and lettuce, which added traditional flavours and variation in textures. Most importantly of all, the burger itself was tender but bursting with hearty meaty flavours. With a side portion of fries presented in a small metal bucket, the dish was Stacey’s favourite of the evening, despite the portion maybe being a little on the large side of favourable, with all of the layers together creating a wonderful mix for all the senses.
The deliberation that followed the main courses came courtesy of the extensive choice of desserts, with the choice a difficult one to make, especially for those like me who have a liking for sweet dishes. The signature and highly recommended desserts included a brown bread ice cream (using the Guinness bread sampled earlier) with caramelised walnuts and honeycomb or a Coconut rice pudding with mango and passion fruit. However, after opting for heavier dishes in our starters and main courses, we opted for smaller dishes. I requested the warm chocolate fondant with peanut butter ice cream while Stacey chose the lemon tart.
The deliciously rich dark chocolate fondant, when added with the bold taste of the peanut butter ice cream, certainly soothed my sweet tooth. The small in size, yet striking in flavour, fondant held its structure well with a crunch to the bite, whilst encapsulating the smooth and runny interior, marrying both textures well. Stacey’s lemon tart hinted to the spring season around the corner with vibrant citrus scent and eye catching colour. The addition of a selection of raspberries and sugar frosting created a well balanced citrus yet sweet dish housed on a soft, melt in the mouth pastry case.
Upon completion of our desserts, we were offered drinks in the bar, but after three rich courses of food and wine we instead opted for a latte. Accompanied with a selection of delicate dark chocolates presented on a slate, this small dish boosted the brasserie’s attention to detail shown throughout the restaurant and the delicate nature of presentation. With three varieties of dark chocolate discs featuring almond, apricots and white chocolate, it sealed our experience at 108 Brasserie with a truly deserved, satisfied table.
Whilst paying to homage to the history of a brasserie with the French decor, the environment created at 108 Brasserie is vibrant and bustling, reflecting its location of central London. The locally sourced produce and traditional British dishes were immaculately presented with powerful and well balanced tastes, textures and aromas. 108 Brasserie is a great addition to The Marylebone Hotel and promises to be a highlight of a hotel stay or a dining experience in its own credit. Both myself and my guest, Stacey thoroughly enjoyed our visit and would look to visit again with the view of additionally trying the extensive range of drinks at the bar.
Address: 47 Welbeck Street, London, W1G 8DN / 020 7969 3904