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The number 108 doesn’t really have a ring to it… but throw in a cosy village scene fused with top class cuisine and you have the makings for something very memorable indeed.

Only five minutes walk from the hubbub/ hell (delete as appropriate) of Oxford Street, nestled in the heart of Marylebone Village, 108 Marylebone Lane makes the stress of city life a distant memory for a couple of hours. As the sounds of car horns and crowds of tourists fade out, the local feel becomes more and more apparent. 108 Marylebone Lane likes to source as much as possible of the produce and goods it uses from within Marylebone Village itself. Easy to source locally when you’re based in the middle of rural Hampshire, Warwickshire or Yorkshire (and many others of the Shires, for that matter), not so easy in the centre of the capital. The restaurant gets much of its meat from The Ginger Pig, just off Marylebone High Street, and nearby Biggles, where the ”Biggles Venison Sausages” come from, as it happens. The Rococo Chocolate Brownie (just gorgeous) is made from chocolate bought at- you guessed it- Rococo, handily located just a hop, skip and a jump away on Marylebone High Street, and cheeses come from La Fromagerie, arguably one of the best cheese shops in England. Acting as a platform for local businesses and producers to showcase their wares, 108 Marylebone Lane absolutely revels in being the sum of all its (quality) parts.

The venue itself, with its contemporary interior, is divided into two sections – both beautiful, but each with a completely different tone. The bar is strikingly modern with its shiny red ceiling lamps. On the other side of the room, the arrangement of the tables in the large restaurant area offers little corners in which to enjoy food and conversation without the feeling of being in a huge, daunting venue. At the risk of sounding middle-aged, the general feel to the place was really rather pleasant.

Now, turning to the good stuff.  I began with the asparagus (what with it being in season and all), with pickled wild mushroom, quails eggs and truffle dressing, while Miss F opted for the stilton and leek tartlet. The asparagus itself was perfectly blanched, and the truffle dressing was apparent but pleasingly subtle. The quails eggs, hard boiled, would probably have been preferable poached or soft boiled (I’m a big sucker for a gooey yolk – it takes me back to my childhood), but cooked as they were they were able to hold the accompaniments well. Miss F finished the tart with gusto – the single bite I was permitted was incredibly rich; however, I did enjoy the palate teaser of the initial tang of the cheese to the final hum of the leek. We both opted for mains of fish; I the fillets of bream with potato puree and sautéed leek, Miss F, the less purist, saltimbocca of roast monkfish and mozzarella, which came with potato and fennel confit, baked aubergine and wild rocket pesto. The plate sizes, firstly, were just right (especially if you’re going to brave a starter of stilton and leek tart). Though torn by a variety of choices, including the Biggles sausages and the pork belly, the arrogant simplicity of the bream was a sure winner, with the fish perfectly cooked and the side-dishes inventive and intriguing.

Following two courses, only Gluttony and her sister Greed (Miss F and myself, incase you didn’t recognise us) could have managed a couple of desserts on top. However, word on the street is the Rococo Brownie is not to be missed (a rumour with legs, it turns out). Now I must admit that I hate rum in desserts, with a passion! (Rum’n’raisin ice cream = my worst nightmare) In light of this information, you’d think that a banana, rum and chocolate brownie would be a recipe for disaster but I decided to give it a go. My, oh my, what a treat! Spoiling ourselves further with the white chocolate cup and Bailey’s mousse, served with a delightful warm orange madeleine, really was the zenith of indulgence. If we are to believe that proof really is in the pudding then this gem of a place certainly gets my vote. Then again, the proof could have been in the starter or the main and my judgement would have been the same.

108 Marylebone Lane is a little jewel of a find on this one of London’s busiest and bustling shopping streets.  The restaurant’s insistence on keeping things local is such a refreshing change from the rise and rise of global gastronomy on offer in London’s high-end restaurant scene. This place has reverted to village life and prefers to keep it simple and fresh. And that is precisely why I like it.

www.108marylebonelane.co.uk

108 Marylebone Lane
Marylebone, UK W1U 2
020 7969 3900

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