Review: Restaurant Mark Greenaway
12 Picardy Place, www.restaurantmarkgreenaway.com
Restaurant Mark Greenaway Situated on Picardy Place, this cosy yet elegant restaurant consists of one medium-sized main dining room, flanked by two smaller private rooms for parties of up to 20. The décor is calming but with a funky twist – charcoal walls and raised ceilings are given a modern twist by the addition of geometric artwork and huge brass lightshades that dominate the room.
We went along with high expectations after hearing whispers of satisfaction from those who had gone before us.
It started very well – our first courses were so beautiful in their presentation, that upon being set in front of us they elicited gasps of excitement. My confit of Gressingham duck leg (£7) was a tower of rich, salty shredded meat sitting on a solid rectangle of hot orange jelly and wafer-thin slices of ruby-red beetroot carpaccio. The contrasting textures and flavours were set off by a deliciously sweet, fruity raspberry dressing that had been artfully swirled across the plate.
Fiona couldn’t resist the hand-dived Orkney sea scallops (£11) – a trio of plump, succulent, herb-crusted molluscs sitting atop a square of firm potato fondant. The fresh, understated flavours were enhanced by the combination of tomato jelly, baby herbs and well-placed blobs of parsley mayonnaise, which my friend thought not only tasted divine, but also looked “just like a painting”.
While our starters were indeed beautiful, Domenica’s choice was something else. Her Loch Fyne crab ‘cannelloni’ (£7) came served in the upside-down lid of a small glass goldfish bowl filled with smoke – which did cause a slight how-do-I-eat-this dilemma, although she soon took the plunge and tucked in to the soft pasta roll and accompanying salad. Upon lifting the lid, the wafts of fragrant smoke – reminiscent of incense and bonfires – drifted around the table, as she devoured the rich, creamy cauliflower custard contained within.
Our main courses were equally as exciting. My fillet of pan-roasted Scottish Halibut (£24) was a sizable hunk of juicy white flesh, covered in a yellow herb crust that crackled satisfyingly when broken. This was served with a pleasant, earthy solid rectangle of turnip confit (Mark Greenaway is clearly a fan of geometric shapes), and a succulent, butter-poached oyster topped with foamy bubbles of star anise ‘air’.
Domenica decided to go for fish, too, and her moist, flaky fillet of pan-roasted hake (£24) came with a rich, crispy oxtail cannelloni, cubes of perfectly-cooked pumpkin and a creamy pearl barley risotto. This was topped with a spiderweb-shaped potato lattice, which gave the dish a rather beautiful look – although it seems it didn’t overwhelm in the taste department, with Domenica proclaiming that the flavour was “almost exactly like crisps”.
Fiona prefers a hearty, rustic dish when eating out, and her choice of roasted and poached fillet of Borders beef (£28) certainly fit the bill. The three tender slices of meat were brown on the outside but ruby red on the inside, and were served with rich little pastry bone marrow parcels and a larger piece of braised beef shin gnocchi. This explosion of beef left her feeling rather full, although she did have room to squeeze in some of the ludicrously smooth pomme puree (£3) that we’d ordered on the side.
For dessert Domenica and Fiona decided to try the fruity options, choosing the broken lemon tart (£6.50) and Mark’s Eton mess (£6.50) respectively. Being a former pastry chef, Mark’s presentation skills really come into play with the desserts, and again, Domenica hit the jackpot with her superbly constructed broken lemon tart, with its fresh, zesty combination of cubes of frozen shortbread and watermelon.
Fiona’s banana and pear Eton mess was a riot of fruit and colour. The intriguing ingredients included ‘paint, pearls and leather’, which made us all wonder what she was letting herself in for, although, as our waitress explained, this was more an indication of the different textures she should expect to find on her plate. Freshly-chopped fruit and crunchy mini meringues came served on a berry jus (the paint), and this was scattered with tough, leathery triangular slivers of pressed fruit and tangy berry pearls.
I went for the Manjari chocolate fondant – a rich, chocolaty tower that was firm on the outside but oozed deliciously gooey molten lava from the middle. It was accompanied by a crisp shell of chocolate filled with a cloyingly sweet white chocolate mousse, and line of disconcertingly-textured, but more-ish, orange caviar.
It would be remiss of me to lazily compare Mark Greenaway’s cooking to that of Heston Blumenthal, but with such an innovative menu on offer, I imagine it might be something he will hear often. Eating at Restaurant Mark Greenaway is an experience that reminds you that food should be fun. It reawakened the joy of eating for me, sometimes to such a degree that our table was entirely silent as we sat and contemplated the food in front of us.
If you’re looking for a culinary experience that you won’t be able to stop talking about for days afterwards, then give Restaurant Mark Greenaway a try. A word to the wise though – once you’ve been, you’ll be desperate to head back again to see what else this culinary wizard has to offer.