Since my earlier blogpost, I’ve been to Marcus Wareing twice. Yes, I am that spoilt. Fiddling whilst Europe burns. Or just making the most of it whilst I still can. The last time, it was sublime, this time not so much. On the last occasion, I had the vegetarian tasting menu and it was inventive, interesting and unusual. I’m not actually vegetarian, but often want to give myself a break from all things animal protein and it is a joy to find a serious restaurant which is happy to make that bit of effort for those of us who are not massive meat-eaters.
Having had such an interesting experience on the last occasion (including a kitchen visit – I am not worthy) I thought I would, again, go for the vegetarian à la carte. This time, it didn’t blow me away. This time, it didn’t seem worth the £80 for the three course à la carte menu. I mean, I can’t say it was bad, because it really wasn’t, but it wasn’t memorable and for £80, it should be.
I was, however, spectacularly pleased with the wine recommendation from the sommelier. I was trying to balance my overwhelming desire for a heavy Gewurztraminer with my husband’s wish for a more conventional Mersault. It was suggested that I try the Domaine Ostertag Riesling Muncheburg Vendages Tardives Grand Cru. Oh thank you sommelier. I now have a new favourite. You can buy it at Berry Bros. At a fraction of the price. I generally try not to look at the mark-ups as it’s just too depressing but I needed to find this.
Anyway it really did the job and had that floral and aromatic style that I look for, but without the oiliness that C wishes to avoid. I’ll be having that again. Quite a lot, I hope.
Look, I don’t want to be ungenerous and the desert was fabulous – simply billed as “Custard” it was a traditional but lighter-than-air custard tart, you know the type, with the nutmeg and cinnamon. Apparently, he’s made it for the Queen so it’s certainly good enough for a commoner like me. But – and there is a but – even though the meal was only two days ago I can’t really remember my starter – I know it had goat’s curd in it and caramelised onion, but it wasn’t sufficiently substantial or memorable to have left a food memory. And I really want to remember.
For the main course I had the herb pappardelle. I’ve had it before. It was good, visually stunning (the herbs are embedded within the pasta) but a little bland, even with the shaved truffles. I won’t be persuaded to order it again. However charming the waiter.
C had the grouse, which came with a wine reduction and with chopped kale . He did not like it. A bit sour, like his face when he was eating it. When asked by the maitre d whether he noticed anything different in the kitchen, he chose to say no, but it wasn’t true. There was a difference. I think we had the “B” team.
I know the dog days between Christmas and New Year are restaurant hell and no one should really judge a restaurant by what they put out on those days, but hey, the prices are the same. Maybe they should do the equivalent of a “soft opening” – it was clear that the restaurant wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Not only that, but when they started to steam iron the other tables ready for the evening service, I started to feel slightly unwelcome. To be fair, they did ask whether we minded, but it felt churlish to say yes. Perhaps it was effect of the wine.
And no slightly camp and sparkly sweetie trolley! – I love that sweetie trolley; I look forward to pretending not to be able to eat one more wafer-thin mint –I know they did bring a very delicious chocolatey square at the end of the meal and give me (not C) a bag of chocolates, but I do like that grossly over-the- top performance at the end of the meal where I force myself to fill my desert stomach with wholly unnecessary but utterly delicious home-made truffles. I asked where it was. They said (I think) that it had gone to be “serviced”. A trolley? Really?
Look, it really wasn’t bad. Superb service, great atmosphere and often sublime food. Just not playing at the very top of its game. I’m just glad this wasn’t my first visit, because I’m not sure I’d have rushed back. And if you haven’t been, do go. But perhaps not between Xmas and New Year. Or when Mr Wareing is playing away.