Oxford Street has its chain retail outlets and stalls stocked with goods that no self-respecting adolescent tourist would want to live without: plenty of plastic items embellished with Union Jacks and these days Kate and William tea-towels. On the other hand, Marylebone Village truly has an ambiance of yesteryear. Boutique shops, artisanal food producers, cafés and restaurants are just a few yards from that heaving mass of humanity.
So seek out the charm of Marylebone Lane for a glimpse of that part of the capital which remains mostly the preserve of Londoners. And if you are looking for good local food then you will enjoy 108 Marylebone Lane. Yes, it’s the name of the restaurant as well as the location: a practical solution for those, like me, who have a dubious memory for addresses.
One enters via the bar area and this is a striking space large enough to be comfortable for a group, but there are cosy corners for couples. 108 is attached to the Marylebone Hotel so there were a few guests, on the day we visited, who were taking advantage of the proximity of a good restaurant. Plenty of local regulars as well: those who work in the area have found this oasis of calm, which provides all the joy of a well-stocked bar with the prospect of a decent meal just a couple of yards away.
108 Marylebone Lane has a restaurant that should convince overseas guests that British food is thriving. The menu reflects the changing seasons as well as offering the best of British fish and meat. The waiter will tell you that the pork comes from Ginger Pig (that’s the name of the butcher, not the animal), La Fromagerie – one of London’s celebrated cheese shops – provides the excellent cheeseboard, and the sausages come from Biggles.
My guest and I settled ourselves under the imposing Peter Denmark artwork. The menu isn’t huge but is appropriate for a restaurant with this number of covers, and there was something to appeal to most tastes, and definitely to ours. The bill of fare changes frequently.
The Warm Goat’s Cheese Salad was my choice and it was a substantial plate of leaves topped with rounds of good quality cheese. Some goat’s cheese can be over-pungent with rather too much of the flavour of, well, goat. This example was delicate but with distinct flavour. My guest chose the Red Pepper Tart which she proclaimed light, fresh and delicious.
The Executive Chef, Norman Farquharson, has taken trouble to source the best meat so I needed to try the slow-cooked lamb. This was a belly cut with just the right ratio of meat to fat to gelatinous skin. The lamb was meltingly tender and the skin lacquered and enticing. This dish tasted as good as it looked. Well seasoned, veggie-bejewelled green lentils were the supporting cast to this superb plateful. There are those who would sit in a Parisian brasserie eating such a dish whilst bemoaning the lack of similar back home. Here is indeed the proof that food in the UK is often the equal of that you will find across La Manche.
The French might criticise our food but they have embraced Le Crumble with almost missionary zeal. Every chic restaurant has its version of this great British classic. 108 offered me a Spiced Pear and Walnut Crumble that would drive Continental visitors to exclaim (quietly, if they are French) “Zis is ze best”. The fruit was flavoured with those warming and Christmassy spices and the crumble was chunky, and a substantial serving after the previous two generous courses.
108 Marylebone Lane is a smartly casual brasserie which offers inspired dishes making the best of seasonal and fresh produce. A regular visitor will find something different every week but the quality will be predictable. A pleasant ambiance and attentive service make 108 Marylebone Lane ideal for those looking for a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the West End. Its location will also appeal to seekers of a reliable lunch or dinner spot to meet friends or clients. I’ll be returning.
Opening Times for 108 Restaurant
Monday – Friday 6.30am – 10.30am
Saturday 6.30am – 11.00am
Sunday 7.30am – 11.30am
Monday to Saturday 12.00pm – 2.45pm
Monday to Saturday 5.30pm – 10.30pm
Sunday 5.30pm – 10.00pm
Opening Times for 108 Bar: Monday to Sunday 10am – 1.30am
Food Served Monday to Sunday 12.00pm – 11.00pm
108 Marylebone Lane Restaurant and Bar
108 Marylebone Lane, London W1U 2QE
Phone: 020 7969 3900
Visit 108 here
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018