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An exquisite treat tucked away in a Marylebone lane

PUBLISHED: 11:50 11 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:41 07 September 2010

BY LAURA EVANS TUCKED away in a windy lane off the bustling Marylebone High Street awaits an exquisite treat to soften the heart of any overly-critical food connoisseur. 108 Marylebone Lane is currently enjoying something of a renaissance since its recent

BY LAURA EVANS

TUCKED away in a windy lane off the bustling Marylebone High Street awaits an exquisite treat to soften the heart of any overly-critical food connoisseur. 108 Marylebone Lane is currently enjoying something of a renaissance since its recent refurbishment and is quietly emerging as the eaterie of choice for many West Enders and people living nearby.

The restaurant's redesign has achieved great success aesthetically, as its interior design achieves the seeming impossible by combining minimalism with decadence while remaining comfortable.

The venue is perfect for a pre-dinner get together or meeting place at the luxurious bar with its deep, leather sofas or, for the more lively, its vast wooden benches.

This is probably the ideal opportunity to highlight the bar's unique cocktail menu which includes The Marylebone and Tea Thyme martini - the perfect aperitif.

Meanwhile the restaurant is spacious, yet cosy with sumptious dining furniture and attractive table settings. Whether you fancy a romantic dinner for two, a family get-together or a party with your friends, there is the perfect spot for everyone.

And so to the food. The restaurant has achieved a coup this year by netting the services of one of the best chefs in the country, Ian Howard. Ian earned his stripes in many of London's top restaurants and sealed his reputation while at the helm of Gary Rhodes' Rhodes W1 brasserie and bar at The Cumberland.

Ian's menus reflect his experience yet retain simplicity and are instantly notable for their locally-sourced produce.

Indeed 108 is a great supporter of local traders and buys its food fresh: some of the dishes use meat from Ginger Pig, the cheese from La Fromagerie and the sausages from Biggles. All local and all some of Marylebone's most highly-regarded food suppliers.

There is also a lunch menu which is appealing for office workers, shoppers and passers-by alike. The highlights of which include lobster sandwiches.

I certainly had a wealth of choice when I visited 108 on a busy Friday night and after much deliberation, it seemed churlish to not choose locally-sourced dishes, more of which later.

The starters are mouthwatering and extensive, including Tuscan meat board or quail egg and french bean salad for the adventurous, and soup of the day and smoked salmon for the less-so.

I opted for the chicken liver parfait, while my partner settled on duck confit. My immediate impression was the presentation of the dish - the parfait was placed on a long, flat board alongside slices of sourdough bread, pear and a honey pot jam. It was absolutely divine with a subtle combination of flavour.

The duck confit - duck leg with maple syrup and leek viniagerette - was considered equally good and described as soft and sweet.

The main courses are equally as versatile, offering rib-eye steak, lobster, calves liver and tuna loin.

I chose maize-fed chicken breast, sourced from Ginger Pig, with a mushroom and madeira ragout while my partner chose the sausages from Biggles with braised leeks and gravy.

As an extra treat, we also shared a portion of thick-cut chips from the side order menu, which also boasts a selection of vegetables and salads.

Once again, the chicken was top notch - tasty, succulent and plentiful, and the ragout provided the perfect accompaniment. All too often, it is easy to settle for bland, tasteless and overcooked chicken; so this was a real treat.

It is fair to say my partner was somewhat overwhelmed with the sausage dish which was huge but he was greatly impressed with the richness of the gravy and the quality of the sausages.

With full bellies, a dessert seemed off the cards but after a short break, we felt it rude not to and chose to share a chocoholic's dream - dark vhalrona chocolate mousse with raspberries and honeycomb. And yes, it was as good as it sounds.

And believe it or not we did find room for a delicious cheeseboard, locally sourced of course, washed down with port.

Which brings us on to the wine list which offered a variety of choices from France, Spain and Italy, to name just few.

The attention to detail at 108 is immediately obvious - from the scuplted bread rolls, to the after dinner truffles and the presentation of the food to the napkins; every aspect of the meal was thought through and carefully considered.

The service was excellent - attentive but far from overwhelming, and extremely helpful. Led by manager Ray Clark, the waiters and waitresses are a huge asset to the restaurant and never faltered during a very busy night.

108 Marylebone Lane is offering a range of treats for its customers during the festive season, including special lunch and dinner menus. It is also offering a Christmas cocktail in the form of new the chocolate truffle cocktail using local suppliers Rococo. For more details visit the website at www.108marylebonelane.co.uk.

108 Marylebone Lane

W1U 2QE

Telephone: 020-7969 3900.

Food Five star rating

Service: Five stars again!

Cost: Starters from £5 to £10, main courses £12.50 to £28.50.

Laura Evans


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