Marcus is the flagship restaurant of the eponymous chef, Marcus Wareing. Wareing learned the tricks of the trade from Gordon Ramsay, and has gained public attention as, among other things, a judge on Masterchef: The Professionals. These notable endeavours have not, however, led to him taking his eye off the ball: the jewel in his crown has held two Michelin stars for the last 7 years. With that in mind, it’s worth noting that this meal (although clinched at a lower price than usual) lay beyond any normal student budget – however, friends’ birthdays provided a legitimate excuse for us to go!
What do they do?
The focus at Marcus is on exquisite, refined food. Though there is an À La Carte menu, it is certainly the norm to opt for a (5- or 8- course) tasting menu. The tasting menus are available with (or without) carefully crafted wine pairings.
What did we have?
We had nabbed a deal on the 5-course menu, and (most of us) supplemented this with a cheese course. These courses were sandwiched by an amuse-bouche of arancini, and a take-home treat of strawberry and white chocolate balls.
The first course [proper] was Poached Sea Trout, Troffolino Pepper, and Buttermilk. The first surprise was the appearance of the trout – it certainly didn’t appear poached, but the taste indicated otherwise. Seasoned immaculately and melting in the midst of the buttermilk, this was an impressive beginning.
Next came Salt Baked Celeriac, Hazelnut, and Truffle. This was a superb course – highlighted by a few of us as the best course of the lot. The celeriac was gorgeously complemented by, in particular, the hazelnuts and the dressing. What was particularly striking was the variety of textures, from the crunchiness of the nuts, to the firmness of the celeriac, with crispiness and stringiness also making an appearance. This most certainly exceeded expectations derived from its portrayal on the menu.
Next came Cod, Sweetcorn, and Clam. Again, not necessarily a particularly exceptional sounding dish – however, we were not to be disappointed. In what Kwasi described as “definitely an improvement on that Pukka Pie I had waiting for me at home”, we were met with something akin to a polished and delicate slant on fish and chips. The sweetcorn (and the sweet sauce) provided a great contrast to the subtle flavours of the cod, and made this dish so much more than just posh fish and chips.
The main course was Herdwick Lamb, Roscoff Onion, Curd, and Olive. I (naturally) had my Lamb as pink as they’d allow – this made for characterful and chewy few mouthfuls, accompanied by a fabulous array of vegetables and a subtle curd.
I initially passed on the cheese course, but upon seeing the offering (approximately 30 cheeses of all colours and textures imaginable), urgently changed my mind. I can’t pretend that I remember the names of all of the cheeses, but one in particular stood out: the Blue Cheese with Cranberry Crust, soaked in Dessert Wine. This provided absolutely stunning flavours, packing a huge punch. The real treat within this course was, however, the accompanying elements: a honey-based glaze; a tangy marmalade; fig puree; and, a spectrum of carefully selected breads.
The meal was rounded off with Williams Pear Tarte Tatin and Salted Caramel Ice Cream. This was a surprisingly hefty portion, which – like the celeriac course – offered a great variety of textures. With salted caramel being a contemporary classic and a favourite of millennials, it oughtn’t to be done without due care and attention: fortunately, this was not an issue here. A delightful, satisfying end to a stupendous meal.
The evening concluded with coffee and petit fours. The coffee was rich, and the petit fours consisted of further displays of creative genius. From left to right, we had: a crunchy praline nibble; a latte in marshmallow form; and, further sweet and salty delight, in the form of a salted caramel truffle. (Credit to Molly for remembering the details of this, as I was too busy scoffing with glee.)
Value for money: 4/5 – This kind of food doesn’t come cheap, but it’s about as good as food can get. It’s not something you can afford to do often, but it’s without a doubt worth the money. Molly and Josh also received Wareing’s new book (Marcus at Home) as birthday gifts – nice touch.
Pretentiousness: 2/5 – as far as this level of food goes, the focus was very much on exceptional flavours and interesting combinations, rather than the bizarre and comical.
Atmosphere: 4/5 – wonderful service, and a very elegant setting.
Marcus was amongst the best meals I’ve ever had, and I will definitely be saving my pennies in anticipation of returning!