I was a fussy eater as a child. I liked ham sandwiches, cheese pasties, spaghetti, and not a lot else. Luckily for me, my parents were never going to stand for those shenanigans and I soon learned to cherish every single food in existence. Except sprouts. I say luckily, because when I arrived at Marco Grill to discover I was there to try out their Mystery Menu, I couldn’t have been more excited.
The evening started out with a card. We got to pick a preferred theme, name a food we disliked and say one thing to the chef. Naturally, I wanted the chef to go all Heston on me, and I tried to subtly make that point.
So, what kind of wild delight was in store for me? It could have been anything. It was bread.
Don’t worry, the bread was just to tide me over until the first real surprise. Along came a mozzarella ball with pistachio dressing, a combo I certainly wasn’t expecting. The ball appeared to have screeched to a halt along its dressing on the plate, which was a clever touch. The friction from this abrupt stop is presumably what led to the wonderful almost liquid cheese interior, which made for a perfect counterpoint to the breaded wonder.
We were also served scallops with rocket and a pea purée dressing. Presented on an earthy plate, the dressing added a sharp twist to the fleshy, seared texture of the scallops.
The game was also on: pigeon breast, served with a mustard dressing on a bed of fresh salad. The taste was more on terms with my expectations – rare enough to bring some real excitement to the table, with a dressing sharp enough to count as its tux.
For our first main, 2 breasts of roast partridge served with a potato fondant. The partridge had been roasted excellently, and the dish came with just enough gravy to keep my northern mouth happy.
A fillet steak may not sound like much of a mystery, but served with a courgette purée and broccoli it was certainly a tasty surprise. I’m a lover of a well cooked (not welldone) steak, and the chef clearly understood how to cook his meat. The side added a nice layer of health to the fillet, and created a bit of a treat.
So, how would Marco finish off our menu? Well, an apricot soufflé with pistachio ice cream wasn’t a bad start. The soufflé was bursting out of its pot, and the ice cream alongside it was ready to smooth out the sharp taste.
The mysteriously named fruit with cream was also an effective dessert. Three figs split open with cream on top. Sweet and succulent.
The idea of a mystery menu appeals to me enormously. Two words to essentially say you don’t know what you’re getting add an enormous amount of intrigue, excitement and suspense to an otherwise perfectly peaceful dinner. I’m surprised more restaurants don’t try this. Luckily Marco Grill do.
Stamford Bridge, Fulham Road, London, SW6 1HS