When I visited: January 2015, January 2016, February 2016, September 2016, January 2017
Location: London, near Bank (also now near Victoria)
Team: Jarad McCarroll (founder), Michael Reid (Executive Chef), Francesco Cappucci (maitre d’), Zack Charilaou (Head Sommelier)
Rating in the Michelin Guide: Not rated
What to wear: Men – jeans or nice trousers and a shirt; women – jeans and a smart top or a smart dress / workwear
Ambience: Smart/casual, quite big
Course of the meal: Kobe fillet steak / Honey cake
If I could change one thing: More consistent service
It was a cold, long January day at the end of a cold, long January week when I decided to descend and rest my talons for a Friday evening at M. Its location, near Bank station, was a challenge; not only was it tucked away and hard to spot but it took up a big site which was difficult to fill, especially as it was right opposite the much-loved Le Relais de Venise. However, from what I saw and tasted, M could rise to the challenge.
The menu had great choices of both a seafood variety and that pinnacle of beef, Kobe. After my partner Owl ordered the Kobe (on the basis that you rarely get to eat it outside Japan or the Steve Wynn Steakhouse in Vegas), the head chef (Jarad McCarroll from the celebrity hotspot Chiltern Firehouse) came out to check how it was. The waiter that looked after us (Stefan) was also charismatic and enthusiastic, which is always great to see.
We had the dinner a la carte menu and started with a ‘Lemon’ cocktail (Que Che lemon and almond with herbal watermelon, Tanqueray gin, amaretto, Salvatore Liquore di Limone and watermelon mousse), followed by an Australian Viognier wine to accompany dinner. Our starters were raw scallops with cooked apple and bacon, and yellowfin tuna sashimi. I do love the combination of fruit with savoury starters and it worked particularly well here. I then had the sumptuous pumpkin risotto while my partner Owl had the aforementioned Kobe fillet steak – 150mg, medium, with special ‘M’ triple cooked chips, creamed spinach and anchovy butter. Our shared dessert was a Cape Malay Malva pudding (a cake with marmalade inside it), with vanilla ice cream and dried raspberries, followed by Argentinian mate tea.
I was excited to return to M with my partner Owl on another cold January day. The menu was perhaps even better, to the extent where I wanted them to introduce a tasting menu so that more of the dishes could be sampled in smaller sizes. The menu was split into different sections including ‘raw’ and ‘grilled’, with a bar upstairs and cocktails offered as specials, and classical piano music in the toilets (an incongruous but fun touch against the smooth ‘Vegas club’ feel of the rest of the restaurant).
We also learned on this visit that M had opened a new branch in Victoria – I was glad to see it doing well, even if it didn’t seem to have been recognised by the Michelin Guide yet (which I thought it absolutely should be).
We selected a bottle of red Malbec with some help from the waiter and were given pieces of soft seedy bread with an unusual chicken spread and crispy chicken pieces. We chose starters from the ‘raw’ menu: grilled octopus with tomatoes (which was perfectly cooked) and cured trout (which was good if a little small).
For a main, my partner Owl couldn’t resist going for the Kobe beef again with ‘M chips’ (triple cooked) and spinach with garlic and lemon, while I had the cauliflower risotto with black truffle supplement (which was a good winter dish, but the truffle flavour was not quite potent enough).
The desserts had to be singled out as my honey cake with mandarin and yoghurt was exceptional – I don’t even normally like warm puddings but it was amazing. My partner Owl’s white chocolate ice cream with lemon meringue, cucumber and olive oil sponge cake was also great and quite reminiscent of Texture‘s old white Valrhona chocolate classic dessert.
I visited M again with some friends for a birthday party. They catered well for a group and handled late arrivals and a range of requirements smoothly. They made a couple of mistakes with bringing dishes late but the set menu’s excellent value made up for this.
However, on my most recent visit, the service really wasn’t great – the people taking our orders were distracted, had to come back a few times to check what we had ordered, and the food was slow to arrive. The quality of the food was still pretty good, though.
I would generally recommend M as a post-work destination, or even for a working lunch or a group dinner with friends. However, on my last couple of visits the service has been less than great, which isn’t really acceptable when they charge high prices. I hope that this improves so that I look forward to going again.