104 Chepstow Road, London, W2 5QS, United Kingdom

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I first experienced Marianne Lumb’s cooking at the quarterfinals stage of “Masterchef: The Professionals” in 2009, where she demonstrated culinary talent with her dishes that I tried when filming (she went on to be one of the three finalists in the show). Before Masterchef, Marianne trained at Gravetye Manor and also worked as a head chef in Sydney before several stints as a private chef. Marianne subsequently brought out a book and continued working as a private chef, but has now opened her own restaurant in Notting Hill.

With just five tables seating up to 14 guests, this restaurant is not aiming at the mass market. She has just one kitchen assistant, so every customer is getting food cooked by her. The dining room has oak panelling, pale green walls and wooden floor, but the acoustics of the room are quite good and the noise levels are fine. The dinner menu offers three courses at £48, with a three-course lunch available at £30.

The wine list is not lengthy at less than 50 choices, but has some excellent growers, particularly amongst the reds. It ranges in price from £16 to £737, with a median price of £57 and an average mark-up of 2.6 times retail price, which is very fair by London standards. Examples were 2011 Brouilly Vieilles Vignes Domaine Laurent Martray at £34 for a wine you can find in the high street for £13, 2011 Brouilly Vieilles Vignes Domaine Laurent Martray at £58 for a wine that retails at £23, and 2009 Tignanello Antinori at £189 for a wine that will set you back £66 in a shop. Mineral water was £4 a bottle.

The bread was supplied from Hedone restaurant; given that this is by a wide margin the best bread that can be found in London, this was a shrewd choice. Risotto of summer truffles was not as creamy in texture as an ideal risotto, the stock it was made with lacking intensity; the texture of the rice was a touch firm but the truffles were fine (12/20). My starter of “millefeuille of ceps” comprised mushrooms interleaved with Parmesan slices and a sliver of rather overcooked pastry. The ceps were of reasonable quality and the Parmesan was good, though the overall dish felt a little dry (just about 13/20). Veloute of squash was rather thin, the taleggio with it not providing enough flavour to make up for the stock, though the seasoning was accurate (12/20).

Turbot was carefully poached, the pommes Anna with it nice, with a herb Hollandaise that was balanced well enough in terms of acidity but had too much tarragon (13/20). Wagyu beef from New Zealand was in this case fillet, the beef properly cooked, served with out-of-season asparagus that had limited flavour (13/20). I am never convinced about wagyu beef from countries outside of Japan; it is an expensive ingredient and usually very ordinary – the real thing, Matsusaka or Kobe beef, is another matter entirely. On the side, chips were double cooked rather than triple cooked, which inherently is difficult to pull off, and were indeed not as crispy as they could be.

For dessert, spiced pear William tarte tatin had quite delicate pastry and pears that could have had a little more caramelisation but brought the acidity needed (13/20). Chocolate “nemesis” with figs, almonds and damson sorbet was a pleasant enough dessert, the figs and damson bringing some balance to the richness of the chocolate, though for me there was an element too many on the plate, and the ganache could have been richer (13/20).

Coffee was £4, but this did come with salted caramels from Artisan du Chocolat. Service, in the solitary form of a gentleman who was previously a manager at Medlar and Trompette, was friendly and capable. The bill came to £82 all in. Overall, Marianne is a pleasant neighbourhood restaurant. The room is cosy and the atmosphere welcoming, and although the quality of the cooking was rather uneven this was the first week of operation. The price point is quite high for the quality of the dishes that appeared, but I wish them well here; it would be nice to see a small, independent operation succeed.


Further reviews: 08th Jun 2018

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