What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot if the London restaurant scene is anything to go by. Currently hosted on the circuit include names relating to particularly attractive aquamarine life, and a new joint requiring some asterisks to remove the profanity… And both of these, it’s fair to say, are particularly bold when it comes to their concept as well. So, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the M fleet, with their modest one letter name – sites in Bank, Victoria, and the newly launched Twickenham – were something of shrinking violets. But oh how wrong you’d be. Since opening their original M Threadneedle Street joint (our venue for the evening), back in 2014, they’ve taken the city by storm, and this solitary little letter has grown to have quite the clout on London’s food scene.
Headed up by Martin Williams, formerly of steak behemoth Gaucho, this restaurant vision is all about impressing. Whether it’s the glass meat vault filled with hunks of steak sourced from nations known for their meat sourcing, the expansive open kitchen, or the Tokyo-style lav that treats you to a heated seat, things certainly aren’t done by halves here. And commandeering the kitchen is Mike Reid, who you might have clocked on the likes of Great British Menu, Celebrity MasterChef and Sunday Brunch of late. So we knew we were in the safest of hands when visiting to sample their London Restaurant Festival menu (available until 31st October): a journey through 5 courses served with accompanying free-flowing champagne.
We arrive on a busy Thursday evening, where the teal leather booths are already filled with groups of celebratory glass-chinkers and intimate tables for two with date night folks. This is a high octane venue, where people come for the buzziness as much (though not quite as much) as the food. Our crystal flutes are promptly filled with chilled fizz, and are seamlessly topped up throughout the evening by charming, white-shirt-and-neckerchief-sporting waiting staff. And so we begin.
We start with a curl of puffed beef: almost like a lighter version of crackling, that’s gorgeously crunchy and meaty. This is topped with the luxuriously potent thwack of truffle foam.
Next arrived cured mackerel with a beautifully crisp, charred skin. The gorgeous natural flavours of the fish were complemented by traffic light-style blobs of contrasting flavours, with each one pairing dreamily with the fish. Earthiness of beetroot, mild and creamy buttermilk, and the tangy kick of yuzu.
Next up was the ‘main’ event: gorgeously juicy short rib, cooked medium, with charred spring onion purée and smoky garlic. Steak knives were provided but not a requirement: M KNOWS how to handle its meat, and this was a contender for dish of the night.
Next arrived another little mouth teaser: sweet dulce mousse with sweetcorn ice cream and bacon buckwheat. This golf ball-sized portion managed to pack it all in: smooth and salty and caramelly and crunchy. Kind of like if you were allowed to put ice cream on your favourite breakfast cereal.
Being much more of a savoury gal, it’s rare that dessert is a favourite dish. Though white chocolate ice cream with a soft and light olive oil sponge, little squares of pickled cucumber and olive oil sponge was knock-your-socks-off brilliant. Little shards of meringue were peeled away for the big reveal of the night’s wonder-dish.
With their adventurous menu, M is a must-catch this London Restaurant Festival: and with their 5 courses and free-flowing champagne priced at £46.50, has to be some of the best for your buck as well. It’s a destination with pizzazz, glamour and indulgence, not to mention the thing we’re all in pursuit of when it boils down to it: great plates of food. M does it all: and to the letter.
You can catch the London Restaurant Festival menu at M Victoria and M Threadneedle Street until the end of October.