Leanne Kelsall discovers all-day dining at its best in the recently refurbished 108 Brasserie in Marylebone.
According to the web, a ‘brasserie’ (French for ‘brewery’) serves one simple menu, seven days a week. Think, a reliable local go-to when friends and family are visiting. 108 Brasserie – part of the Marylebone Hotel in the heart of Marylebone – does just this. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. But any likeness to L’Hexagone ends there.
This modern British brassiere has been a favourite for food lovers near and far since its major refurbishment back in November. So, we were delighted to be invited inside to find out what all the fuss was about. By no means is the interior of 108 plain, like the name ‘brasserie’ might suggest.
Scarlet-red seating steals your attention as you step inside, perfectly offset by dark parquet flooring. Mighty antique mirrors line the walls yet the dining room still feels incredibly spacious, with floor-to-ceiling windows.
This chic and cosy dining space (designed by Alexander Waterworth) is the kind of place you could wither away an evening with a friend, slowly working your way through a warming bottle of red. As well as the main dining area, there’s a classy cocktail bar serving light bites too.
Chef Russell Ford (previously of five-star hotel The Grove) is the brain behind the Brasserie’s beautifully British À la carte menu. It’s impressively varied, with plenty of meat, fish, pasta, vegetarian and salad options, and is based on traditional dishes with a twist.
Despite there being so much on the menu, including trickier dishes, we were instantly drawn to the kitchen’s strong attention to detail when our starters arrived. We kicked things off with Tiger Prawns coated in tangy harissa and lime (£12), and Dorset Crab on delightfully crumbly brown Guinness bread (£12, available to buy). The prawns were among the cleanest I’ve seen, lemon halves came in cloth with ribbon, while our hand-churned butter was wrapped, labeled and neatly presented. And the prawns? Cooked perfectly of course.
The mains menu is not for the indecisive. Put simply; you’ll want to try everything. The dry-aged beef fillet (£27) from the Josper Grill came cooked exactly as we’d asked (we were told good things about the grilled whole lemon sole too). And our meal from the Mains section – a roasted breast and leg of pheasant (£19) – was the kind of dish you could just sit and admire. Criss cross game crisps and soft, roasted apple slices were placed delicately around the plate. The smooth celeriac mash was the perfect accompaniment to the rich, gaminess of the meat.
The puds (£7 each) are also quintessentially English. The brown bread ice cream served with caramelised walnuts and honeycomb is a regular among locals. While unique treat, a baked coconut rice pudding with mango and passion fruit, (sweet, sour and creamy, all at once) returned to the menu after several requests from the restaurant’s regulars.
The well-stocked wine at 108 Brasserie features over 40 bins, which seems fitting for the great variety of flavours on the food menu. The Blighty-based cocktail list includes those signatures you know and love, as well as a handful of new creations. Our friendly waitress’s recommendations didn’t fail to impress. The aromatic Plum & Jerry was sweet and spicy, with Sailor Jerry, Velvet Falernum, citrus fruits and plum bitters. The 108 Garden with gin, elderflower, fresh mint and cucumber, was refreshing yet different, and looked as though some serious effort had gone into its presentation. We’d return just for cocktails!
With breakfast, brunch, light bites, dinner and even afternoon tea, 108 Brasserie is a shining example of all-day dining done well. It’s a little taste of home in the busting inner city and what could be better than that?
108 Brasserie – Where and How?
108 Brasserie is located at 108 Marylebone Lane, Marylebone, London W1U 2QE, United Kingdom. For more information, or to make a reservation, visit www.108brasserie.com