Let me talk to you about Guinness bread. I had some recently at 108 Brasserie on Marylebone Lane. It was amazing! It sat, dark and sultry, moodily looking out at me underneath the soda bread and pumpkin seed bread that accompanied it on the board our wonderful waiter brought out while we looked over the menu. It barely had the consistency of bread. It was doughy, rich, a little moist. It had so much flavour that I’ll never be able to go back to a normal loaf again without thinking about it. Guinness bread is the winner of bread.
I didn’t just eat bread there. We went to try the brasserie’s London Restaurant Festival menu, running throughout October. I started off the menu with some roasted organic baby beets served with goat’s curd, basil and balsamic over a bed of pesto. Beetroot is a recent favourite of mine, and the dish showed why, with some wonderful fresh flavours mixed together to create a well balanced dish.
We also opted for the Argyllshire smoked salmon, served with some more Guinness bread (did I mention this is good?) and a lemon tied up in a dinky lemon bag. The salmon was generously piled with a little seasoning, and with the sharpness of the lemon it was a simple, great starter.
For mains, we tried the Cornish pollock fillet with kale and a shellfish stew. A real mix of seafood flavours, the ingredients were well prepared, and the underlying stew infused some excellent flavour into everything, which worked especially well on the kale.
The slow-cooked Suffolk free-range pork shoulder comes with mustard-infused mashed potato and some crackling, as well as a little sauce. The meat tore apart very easily, always a good sign, and packed a full porky taste. A little sweet, a bit salty, very juicy, it was excellent pork served up with quality mash.
With time to indulge our sweet teeth, the dessert menu reared its friendly face. The spiced autumn fruit crumble, served in a pot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, was a real warm treat for a chilly evening. The combination of a warm sweet crumble with the calming ice cream influence is a classic combo, and this dish had those elements down to a tee.
While making my final dessert selection I looked down at the menu and… wait a second. Peanut butter ice cream? Did I read that right? Is that even a thing? I ordered it immediately. Of course, the headliner of the dish was the hot chocolate fondant, to which any normal ice cream would have merely served as a foil. The fondant was well heated (gooey in the middle) and lovely and all, but my thoughts were entirely on the ice cream. Peanut butter ice cream tastes of, well, peanut butter, and ice cream, which are both undeniably great apart, and even better together. It’s the second most unusual context I’ve had peanut butter in*, and like a trusty friend it didn’t let me down.
108 Brasserie really offers something more than your standard brasserie experience. The cocktail menu is full and enticing. The waiting staff were attentive, relaxed and friendly, and the food offers some really excellent twists on classic dishes. And of course, good things come to those who eat Guinness bread.
108 Marylebone Lane, London, W1U 2QE