Having never actually experienced the fine dining scene of London (shocking I know) it was a bit of a novelty to find myself in the refined neighbourhoods of Mayfair. Leafy suburbs, beautiful Georgian houses and hideously expensive shops work together to paint the most luxurious of scenes. If high-end restaurants are to survive here, they need to be bloody exceptional.
So with high expectations, I set off for my lunch at Murano. A fine dining Italian restaurant by renowned chef Angela Hartnett, there’s an array of seasonal delights that are delivered in slick, formal surroundings. Opening its doors back in 2008, it’s safe to say that Murano established its authority in the fine dining scene almost instantly- it was awarded with a Michelin star within its first four months, followed by 4 AA Rosettes.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by friendly, spruced-up staff who were only too happy to talk us through the menu: three course lunches are available for a rather reasonable £33, or choose two courses for £28. I was fairly surprised at these prices, as it seemed far more affordable than I was initially anticipating. It’s the drinks that will bump up your bill though- the wine list is both extensive and expensive, so we decided to opt for a Monteforche Veneto Cabernet Franc for a mere £55 (ahem).
After trawling through the wine list, we were immediately presented with some canapes to tuck into. And as you can imagine, I was rather pleased about the prospect of free nibbles. Our selection included parmesan churros, chickpea crackers, and some Spanish hams, as well as a small basket of bread. I personally don’t tend to eat ham as I find it quite fatty, but on this occasion I decided to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised at both the flavour and texture, to the point that I might actually start considering eating ham full time. The churros were the stand out winners though- almost cloud-like in texture, with a beautiful tangy taste. Bloody marvellous.
For our starters, myself and my friend opted for grilled rabbit, served with romesco sauce and baby leek. It certainly looked stunning; simple yet refined. While the rabbit was slightly difficult to cut, the tasting of the meat itself was gorgeous. It was evident that all aspects of the plate had been cooked and seasoned well, which delivered a light, well-balanced dish. My favourite course of the day.
At this point, the wine (and a fair bit of Italian gin) had started to flow, so I was grateful that we still had the basket of bread to help soak up some of the booze. I think I’d filled up on a bit too much bread by the time my main arrived, but it didn’t stop me from powering through my beautifully cooked cod, served with braised cuttlefish, paccheri, squid ink and lemon. This dish had the potential to overwhelm some palettes- if you’re not a hardcore fish/seafood fan, you may have found it a struggle. Luckily enough, I adore seafood, so wolfed the whole lot down with almost macabre relish. The acidity of the lemon cut through the richness of the squid ink and cuttlefish, resulting in an ambitious, highly agreeable plate.
While I enjoyed my cod immensely, I couldn’t help being slightly jealous of my friend’s dish- he’d opted for lamb rump, heritage beetroot, pickled blackberries and pistachio. Visual striking, and wonderfully balanced. The lamb was superb, with a delicate texture that almost melted in the mouth. The fruit and veg were treated appropriately, and worked well with the texture and flavours of the pistachio.
It was now time for some more free food- a lovely little palette cleaner of mint sorbet, which certainly helped to relieve me of my fish. Our servers watched us gobble up these cleansers with gusto, so rather kindly gave us another round each on the house. This was an especially nice touch to our meal- customer service really does go a long way in my eyes, so to see staff working so generously added some serious brownie points to our experience.
For dessert, we’d both decided upon bonet, caramelised pear and amaretti. We weren’t entirely sure what bonet was, but we thought we’d give it a go regardless. (Turns out its sort of caramel custard, who knew.) The flavours worked together in harmony- sweet pear and custard cut through the warm, spicy notes of amaretti perfectly. However, the textures were oddly gelatinous at times, which didn’t sit particularly well in the eating of the dish. My least favourite course of the meal, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Our final freebie of the day was a cheeky selection of chocolate fudge and whisky jelly. My friend found these jellies slightly too strong, but I didn’t find them a struggle- on the contrary, I thought they were magnificent (I’m a bit of a whisky fan you see). The chocolate fudges were equally satisfactory, serving as the perfect end to a rather fantastic meal. And once again, we received two rounds of these little treats. I couldn’t have been happier.
I have to say that I’m rather impressed by my visit to Murano. Perhaps I was guilty of having a false impression of fine dining in Mayfair- I imagined it to be outrageously expensive, especially considering this is Michelin Star territory. However, I must concede that it’s far more accessible than expected, with food setting a standard that is quite simply exceptional. From start to finish, service ran like clockwork, and the addition of extra courses and nibbles made it a very memorable experience indeed. An absolutely knock out restaurant that’s most definitely worth a second visit.
If you’re looking to make a reservation, visit http://www.muranolondon.com/