Gastronomic trend-seekers will be following the current 2-ingredient menu craze hitting London, with the likes of Duck and Waffle, Tramshed and Burger & Lobster leading the gourmet pack. If you’re trawling the streets of London looking for an inspired new take on the concept, look no further. Tucked away in Marylebone Village, 108 Marylebone Lane prides itself on produce sourced from local specialist Marylebone suppliers, and goes one brave step further with conceptual dining by combining the trademark duo of burger and lobster under one happy burger bun. You can try a luxurious spin on the combination with the option of either the aforementioned burger and lobster, or burger and foie gras.
Looking forward to the feast ahead, we settle in to the plush mirrored booth as some signature cocktails are speedily thrown together whilst we survey the scene. Heading the stairs up to the Marylebone Hotel is a tall silver medieval-style candelabra and bold burgundy lampshades, while smart banquettes are scattered with rustic patterned cushions, creating a sleek yet cosy space. The cocktails arrive and we’re given an enthusiastic rundown. Pleasingly dark and inviting, the black mojito has a treacley depth, as the mixologist explained that they use dark molasses instead of brown sugar. This is muddled with rum, fresh lime and mint, and topped with Coca Cola. A lighter choice, the Geisha’s Kiss cocktail was bursting with fresh, delicious lychees, and blended with vodka, pure lychee juice and a scarlet-red dash of grenadine.
After pondering over the brasserie-themed menu, the highly recommended starters arrived. Wrapped in salty parma ham, the rabbit ballotine was partnered against an earthy cardamom & raisin fruit chutney with subtle spice, and topped with a smattering of watercress and microherbs. Served with crunchy sourdough toast, the rabbit was light and delicious, whilst still substantial enough for a starter.
Duo of John Ross Scottish hot and cold smoked salmon with delicate pickled cucumber ribbons and rye bread toast was a clean, simple dish. A horseradish or tartare sauce would have been a welcome accompaniment to enhance the flavour of the salmon further.
Drawn to the grill section of the menu, we chose the trademark dishes which stood out from the crowd. The mammoth deluxe 108 burger should be partnered with either a hunk of meaty lobster or decadent pan fried foie gras but we asked for both for the selfless purposes of demonstration! A quirky take on the ubiquitous classic, and one that pays off. Once the sourdough bun is ceremoniously squidged, the slab of foie gras melts gorgeously into the soft white bread. The Ginger Pig burger is made from fillet steak and the hot, hand-cut straw French fries have the potato-ey sweetness that characterises good homemade chips.
Locally sourced steaks come courtesy of the exclusive Ginger Pig Butcher, just around the corner on Moxon Street, and the very same that supply steak giant Hawksmoor. Dry aged for 28 days, the chargrilled steak is sourced from a rare breed of Longhorn cattle, accompanied by either a creamy green peppercorn sauce or a tarragon-packed béarnaise sauce. A good, solid steak it was, although Hawksmoor must weave some other kind of magic for their abundantly flavourful steaks. Expertly chosen, matching wines accompanied the courses; from the Barossa Valley, the shiraz had a cherry-ruby richness while a zesty Chilean sauvignon had a floral, gooseberry tone.
After a much-needed pause, desserts are on the cards, and angling for a favourite dish, the trifle came highly recommended to us. Trifle? Hmm, not normally my bag, but feeling polite after an ardent recommendation, I thought I’d give it a whirl. Wow, this trifle was off the scale and a little bit special, nothing like an old fashioned pudding. Sugary-sweet baked Alaska topping and speckles of tart strawberry morsels make all the difference to the mix, whilst fresh strawberry compote nestles underneath, and a light, crumbly pistachio shortbread sits alongside. An achingly delicious combination.
We could then only manage a couple of spoonfuls of the hearty bread and butter pudding, served in a cute cast iron pot topped with cooling salted caramel ice cream. Crisp on top, the soft bread layers beneath revealed lovely dark chocolatey swirls, but defeat beckoned slowly.
From the esteemed La Fromagerie Cheese, the farmhouse cheese platter featured crumbly goat’s cheese, creamy brie and earthy stilton with tart tomato chutney, and was only very lightly grazed. A deep syrupy port accompanying the cheese platter made the perfect pairing.
By the time we left, the cosy restaurant space had filled up with in-the-know people, occupying the burgundy banquettes and candlelit mahogany tables. Special mention must also go to the fabulous 108 restaurant and bar team, whose friendly and clued-up service impressed us throughout the night. Those looking for a burger and steak fix on another level will be one step ahead after a visit to 108 Marylebone Lane.
108 Marylebone Lane
108 Marylebone Lane, London, W1U 2QE
Booking available here
Set Lunch and Pre Theatre menu: 2 courses for £13 or 3 courses for £17