Naming your restaurant after its street number is a good way to make it memorable. Serving “proper” food in relaxed surroundings is another. Having the sort of staff that go that extra mile would be a third. To do all of the above, as 108 do, makes it nigh on unforgettable.
Although essentially a hotel restaurant – it’s part of the Jury’s Clifton Ford Hotel – 108 manages to break the typical soulless mould of such places. That it manages to take such a vast space – “it’s big enough to have its own postcode” croaked my ailing co-diner – and make it feel cosy and intimate is impressive. Split levels and a smart combination of dining room, bar and meeting areas make full use of the space, although you might require a Sherpa, or a trail of breadcrumbs, to get you to the toilet and back.
But you will want to go back, because the food, whilst far from revolutionary, is simple and excellent. Head chef Ian Howard, formerly of Gary Rhodes, shops locally and why wouldn’t you when that means Ginger Pig meat, La Fromagerie cheeses and Biggles Sausages?
My under-the-weather companion decided to keep it simple and light, with a sweetcorn soup of great richness and fresh flavours, and a vibrant risotto of spinach and mascarpone. She also passed on the wine list – despite an impressive 13 bottles available by the glass – in favour of hot water, lemon and honey. Assuming I was at risk from her cold bugs, I went for some pre-emptive eating with a carnivorous feast of chicken liver parfait and grilled rib eye. The parfait, with chunky sour dough toast and pear and walnut chutney, was tremendous, the steak, however, was better. A large slab of The Ginger Pig’s finest, coated with thyme butter, sprigs of the fresh herb and garlic confit, it was the sort of steak you could cut by applying a normal knife and letting gravity do the rest.
While puddings included things such as Madeleine’s and Valrhona mousse, we’d already been finished me off. Sympathetic staff rustled up a coffee for me and another hot water, lemon and honey creation for her plus – and here’s the extra mile bit – they brought out a little pot of honey for her to take away, “just in case you don’t have any at home.” Who needs pudding with that kind of sweet finish?
Cuisine type – British / European
Dinner for 2 (ex. drinks) – £60
Beer – £4
Wine – £5
Cocktails – £9.50
Good for – all-day dining, business, pleasure and relaxed drinking.
108 Marylebone Lane,
London, W1U 2QE
Tel: 020 7969 3900