On the ground floor of this Marylebone eaterie is a bar where the tables and chairs could hardly be crammed in tighter. On the floor above is a small dining room where the use of space is only a little less dramatic; tables are tiny and you are just inches from your fellow diners. The New Zealand chef serves "fusion" cuisine, mixing western and oriental ingredients with dishes that involve many flavours. For example grilled Scottish scallops and kina (sea urchin) tempura were served with mustard miso, a seaweed salad, Jerusalem artichoke puree that supposedly had some truffle flavour and crispy buckwheat. Whew! Anything left in the kitchen there? The scallops themselves were capably cooked, though leaving the coral and membrane on the scallop is not something I would choose to do. Scallop coral has "no place in cuisine" according to Pierre Troisgros, and that is a good enough source for me. The tempura should have been a little crispier though the sea urchin was OK, but the salad elements did not seem very harmonious to me (14/20 just).
Roast Gressingham duck breast was cooked quite pink and had fair taste, served with new potato, lightly cooked, green beans, a pomegranate cumin dressing and a crispy "pastille" of pastry allegedly containing foie gras, but the filling was remarkably tasteless, so if there was foie gras in here there was precious little of it (14/20).
Goat cheese cheesecake with mangosteen, lychee, passion fruit and elderflower salad was in fact quite well made, though the pistachio praline was one flavour too many. The wine list is almost entirely from New Zealand and has well chosen growers. Sourdough bread is bought in but they make a cumin bread and also a chilli and garlic bread roll (bread 15/20).
Coffee was remarkably good, a blend supplied by the Monmouth Street coffee shop, which is where the Manoir aux Quat Saison at one time got their coffee (18/20 coffee). Service was friendly and efficient. Apart from flavour overload one can quibble about price, with starters mostly around £13 and main courses £24 or so, with vegetables extra, and desserts at £8.80. With a three course meal with vegetables coming to around £50 for the food (and no free nibbles) this is hardly bargain basement – more than Michelin starred Zafferano, for example. Ingredients did not seem to me inspired but technique was generally very good. The place is buzzing so there are clearly satisfying their target audience, but in my view you can find better food for the same money elsewhere.