Entering 108 Brasserie you are welcomed with festive cheer in the form of smiles from the bar, and a wonderfully humungous autumnal wreath adorned in oh so trendy right now copper highlights and leaves.
The aroma of the room is dominantly sweet, and I’m pretty certain the sugar and spice smell is emerging from the 108 Pantry adjacent to the restaurant, which deals in everything from sandwiches to scones, and gluten-free/low-sugar-healthy-feel-good options to sumptuous cake extravaganzas that just make you want to hit the f*** it button.
The decor contemporary, and a bit ritzy cliche – cream walls, marble tables, red leather seating, with walls studded in black & white photography. Ceilings are high and so are expectations.
To accompany our lovely, floral & fruity cocktail; The Marylebone (named after the hotel the restaurant is situated in)- which was made out of champagne, vodka, raspberry liquor, and elderflower, came a selection of homemade breads (from the 108 Pantry). I’ve never been a fan of bread before a meal, I find it far too filling. As my friend and began to discuss the bread, she told me a story she had heard of whenever Nicole Kidman is served bread at restaurants, she tips a glass of water over it, so she is not tempted by the captivating carb.
The Rye bread was so dense and far too heavy – Though I’ve never really understood rye bread that has not been toasted. Eager to try the guinness brown bread, we tucked in and it was absolutely delicious but it was so cake-like and sweet it felt like it was at the wrong point of the meal, what’s more, because it was sweet, we wanted to keep going back for more of it. The soda bread and pumpkin seed loaf was much lighter, and solidly savoury- this was just right.
Crispy Pig Cheeks with mustard creme fraiche, and an apple & raisin chutney (£8), caught my eye immediately on the starter menu (the menu in its entirety is full of tempting options, however those of you that are vegetarian/vegan may feel a little restricted with choices). Flakey and fleshy peppered pig cheeks in a light crispy batter were delicious and generous in portion, complimenting and working with watercress’ natural peppery pow. The only thing that let the dish down for me was the chutney, it just tasted like something mince pie, but the plate was still very enjoyable without eating the chutney.
Also coming as a starter, the Balmoral Estate Venison Capaccio (£11) – very french in its style and presentation. The venison, like red velvet draped on the plate, pretty against the pale green frisee salad it’s freckled with. The venison pretty much melts on your tongue, all buttery and rich, which is fantastic combined with the pickled walnuts on the plate, bringing something sharp and sweet. A very well designed plate of food.
Taking one for team vegetarian, I ordered the Spelt & Roasted Squash Risotto (£15). With it being the only main suitable for vegetarians (other than from the salad menu) it should have been a lot more than what it was. Texture wise the dish was on point, I love grains like spelt and pearl barley for their ridge down the middle that is just a treat on the tongue, as was the dishes creaminess. To look at the dish was underwhelming being basically beige. The dish could definitely handle more sage than just the one crispy leaf served, and way more black pepper.
Served in their shells, the Seared Isle of Skye Scallops (£16), wonderful colours with the scallops sat atop an amber dahl-like spiced lentil dollop, flavoured with fresh coriander. This was an unusual dish in terms of its flavour pairings, although every other table in the restaurant was eating the scallops (the portion size is generous too). My friend loved this dish, but for me I thought where scallops are sometimes susceptible to being gritty, it was odd serving with lentils.
For something light on the side we ordered a Superfood salad (£8), which I’m not really sure restaurants are allowed to put on the menu as “superfood”, unless it states specifically with scientific backup as to why it is superfood. It’s not just the name i would take off the menu, it would be the dish itself, as it just felt like a bunch of everything thats deemed “in” was put in a bowl and served; quinoa, pomegranate, edamame beans, raw broccoli. It had no flavour and too many textures.
Blaming bread and generous portions we were struggling with the idea of dessert so opted for something light to share in the form of the Josper Grilled Pineapple (£7) – the josper is a grill and an oven in one, there is also a josper menu for mains featuring fish, tiger prawns and steaks. Unfortunately the dessert did the josper no justice. The pineapple tasted limp as did its chilli and lime sauce. Expecting fire and sweet and it was just overly sweet and syrupy. Topped with a scoop of coconut sorbet which lacked flavour altogether, which was a real shame.
The end of the meal was sealed via a limoncello each, and some lovely small homemade chocolates (again from the 108 Pantry), large chocolate buttons topped with pistachio, cranberry and a bit of salt- they were delicious and had a great salty tang to them. The variations change daily.
The service throughout was amazing, the staff that looked after us are certainly a credit to the establishment. I just got the feeling that they really enjoy working in 108, they knew the menu really well, were proud of the ingredients when talking us through them and where they came from etc. The 108 Brasserie has a lovely vibe, if it hadn’t have been for an appointment i had to get to, we could have easily just mooched around soaking up the atmosphere, and probably be tempted to explore the fantastic cocktail menu too.
Reviewed by @Lohanjordan
ADDRESS: 108 Marylebone Lane, London, W1U 2QE, United Kingdom
PHONE: +44 (0) 207 969 3900
PRICE: ££££ (explained)
STAR: *** (explained)
TIPPING POLICY: http://108brasserie.com/location/
MAKE A RESERVATION: http://108brasserie.com/book-now/