Just a stone’s throw from the busy shopping hub of Bond Street in the exclusive neighbourhood of Mayfair, lies the lively yet relaxing basement restaurant Mayfair Exchange. Part of the Balls Brothers brand, which has existed since way back in 1860, Mayfair Exchange has an interior reminiscent of a chic gastropub, with a beautiful bar along one wall, and intimate tables in the areas surrounding. As we walked down the stairs from the entrance small enough to miss if you aren’t aware it’s there, and arrived in the warmly lit bar, a live pianist was playing versions of some well-known songs, creating an atmosphere of an underground speakeasy.
As the sound of the piano drifted through the restaurant, we were drawn to so many dishes on the menu that we struggled to choose! Comforting British food features heavily, and were a pull even on a warm day! Finally happy with our choices, we ordered our starters of a steak sandwich, and a baked camembert.
Unfortunately, the restaurant had been busy and disappointedly told us that they were out of ciabatta bread, but kindly went out of their way to make arrangements for alternative options for us, so that we could still have our chosen starters. These starters doubled up as ‘light bites’ on the menu, and we felt naughtily greedy yet delighted, when 2 generous portions of food arrived at our table!
The steak sandwich was jam-packed with pink and tender steak. Strong flavours of tomato and sweet onions came through to accompany the meat, and created a fantastic and luxurious sandwich.
A whole baked camembert was ambitious for one as a starter, but it didn’t feel heavy as expected. The cheese was warm and gooey to perfection, and oozed a wonderfully punchy flavour. We had to stop ourselves from eating the entire thing, so as to save space for the upcoming courses!
Luckily, we saved ourselves room for mains, which included a very healthy nicoise salad. Featuring the traditional boiled egg and new potatoes, the salad had an extra special surprise of a delicious grilled tuna steak. The steak was beautifully cooked to flaking, with a strong flame-grilled and peppered flavour.
The second main we tried was a completely delicious dish of chicken schnitzel with mashed potato and cabbage. The smoothest of mashed potatoes, topped with huge pieces of crispy schnitzel, was drizzled in a creamy mushroom and bacon sauce. It was totally comforting and indulgent, with a perfect mix of textures throughout.
Finishing the evening, we moved on to our selection of desserts. One was a lemon tart, the other an apple crumble. The lemon tart was sharp and smooth, with an unexpected base of sweet biscuit, which you’d normally expect to find on a cheesecake. A very pleasant end to a lovely meal.
Consisting of warm chunks of sweet apple topped with crumble in a pastry case, the apple crumble was not wholly traditional. However, the pastry was crisp and sweet, and a sprinkling of cinnamon brought the juicy apple to life!
A wonderfully laid back restaurant, just off Bond Street, Mayfair Exchange is a great place to relax and enjoy hearty British food after a hard day’s shopping. With the Balls Brother’s motto of ‘quality first’, you can be sure that the top notch ingredients in both your food and drinks will be prepared and served with care and passion.
34 Brook Street, London, W1K 5DN