M RESTAURANT – THEADNEEDLE STREET
There was a time when the City of London shut down after 5pm and all those “Captings of Industry” and stockbrokers took the train back to outer suburbia or even further out to their mansions in places like Saffron Walden or Banstead. With a bit of luck some pubs were open until 8pm but the number of restaurants that opened even later could almost be counted on the fingers of one hand.
All this has changed over the past two or three decades, starting with “Big Bang” in 1986 and exacerbated by the crash of 2008. An in-house slice of pizza is probably the norm for lunch whilst one is glued to one’s computer, but after work (and more especially now, after the New York stock exchanges close down after 9pm UK time) there is a demand for letting one’s hair down for a bit – at least until Tokyo opens after midnight.
The result is that restaurants in City that are open late now abound and M is no exception. Open from 7am to midnight Monday to Friday and from 5pm to midnight on Saturday, M is the brainchild of Martin Williams, who formerly ran the Gaucho chain of Argentinian steak houses and who is clearly a big fan of MEAT.
And meat is treated with the utmost respect. So much so, that you can have a conducted tour of the meat ageing room on the premises. One might have thought that vegetarians would have been shot at 30 metres here, but they are also well catered for.
The space is large – very large. It consists of two restaurants M RAW and M Grill. RAW specialises in small plates of Sushi, Sashimi, Tartares, Salads and Caviar, plus Hot Stones and Bao and it is where they serve “healthy” breakfasts. There is also a wine bar and private dining rooms within the building. It all has an air of buzz and although the restaurant was by no means full when we were there, it still had an air of vibrancy about it.
There is a pretty large choice of boldly eclectic dishes. In RAW you can get anything from Tofu in a rice paper roll for £4.50 to a platter of Volzhenka (50g Beluga Caviar, grilled arepa, vodka, crème fraiche, butter poached lobster, crab, cauliflower and mint salad, lime and yogurt sorbet) for a mere £450.00.
In the grill, beef, of course, is the speciality with meats coming from Argentina, France, USA, South Africa, Australia and Japan, including Wagyu and Kobe beef. Why nothing from Britain, you may well ask. Perhaps we’ll get the answer soon. But the meat isn’t confined to beef. Venison, Pork (Iberico and USA), Chicken, Kangaroo and Duck also appear as well as a good selection of fish and shellfish usually served as Sashimi, Sushi or Nigiri.
A test meal of Biltong and Graceburn salad (£11.50), Boerwors Corn Bread (£8.50), Kangaroo Fillet Tartare (£11.50) and a Cauliflower Risotto (£16.00) with additional fresh truffles (£6.25) were tastefully produced and aesthetically pleasing to the eye although the truffles lacked sufficient pungency that one would come to expect. Portions are not large, but then they are not mean either and probably just right for old folks like us, but maybe younger people with trencherman appetites, might go away still hungry although there is no limit to the number of dishes you could eat provided there is no limit to the depth of your pocket.
The wines on offer are extensive with many exciting bottles (at a price, of course). One could as always complain about the size of the mark-ups (my glass of one of my favourite everyday drinking wines, Cline Zinfandel, was £12, which was almost certainly more then the restaurant had paid for a whole bottle. But considering the size of the place and its location, the rent must be gi-normous and there are a lot of well-trained, competent and friendly staff, so they need to make a profit and it would be an extreme loss to the area if this operation were to fail.
Not that they are likely to, as they are now about to open their second unit in Victoria and good luck to them for that.
Wine list 16
Value for money 9
(For how we rate see http://winebehindthelabel.org/restaurant-reviews/)
2 Threadneedle Walk/60 Threadneedle Street
London EC2R 8HP
Tel: 0203 327 7770
Open: 7:00am – Midnight Monday – Friday, 5pm – Midnight Saturday
From £100 to £1,000 for two (including a 12.5% service charge)