M RAW – Gluten Free dining in Victoria:
When I was growing up in the 1960s Victoria was a bit of a no-man’s land full of offices, dodgy hotels and The Army & Navy Store. There were certain things that could apparently only be bought at The Army & Navy Store and none of them were in any way glamorous-in fact Victoria was the the essence of drab. The offices are still there but are now shining temples of capitalism clad in steel and glass with their ground floors luring you in to experience their bespoke gastronomic offers. A recent arrival and shortlisted as Best New Restaurant 2016 in the upcoming Restaurant Magazine Awards is M.M is a veritable gastrodome housing the ‘M Grill’ Dining Room, Restaurant, Public and Private Members Bars, private dining, event spaces, a wine tasting room and wine store, and the 100% Gluten-Free ‘M Raw’ which alongside a merry band of fellow bloggers I have been invited to review. It’s my experience that too much quinoa is not a good thing but my digestive concerns were mitigated when I read that helming the stoves was Chef Michael Reid who trained at Le Gavroche and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and had recently returned from Melbourne to open M Victoria St.After a welcome glass of Veuve Cliquot in the Private members bar (it features a cinema that will stay open all night for the US election) we were taken on a tour of M visiting the wine and whisky tasting areas (the wine area has a card based Coravin system)…the atmospheric Private dining room…and the stunning main dining space-this is an ambitious project offering guests a wide variety of experiences to suit all moods.Our final destination was the rather serene M RAW area. The feel is stylish but informal-totally suited to the succession of sophisticated Asian fusion dishes that followed.We snacked on spicy guacamole and delicious baked kale vegetable crisps. Ike Jime Kingfish, Dill, Ponzu and Edamame was a fascinating dish. The Kingfish had been killed with a needle to the brain – apparently this is the most ethical way – so it doesn’t go into rigor mortis, giving the flesh a non-fishy purity of flavour enlivened with the citrus zing of the yuzu and sweetness of the dill.Open Blue Cobia (a richly flavoured farmed, sustainable fish) came with a green chilli pickle salsa, black sesame and chives. This was probably my favourite set of flavour combinations and looked wonderful too.Galician beef tartare, red Sicilian prawns, egg yolk, smoked mayonnaise, garlic crisps, aged beef fat was intense and buttery.A sublime Tuna Tartare was given a kick up the backside by a poky wasabi mayonnaise.But for a real luxe dish the Smoked Wagyu Tartare with hen’s egg, apples and foie gras would take some beating.Probably the most intense flavours of the evening came from 2 dishes; Portuguese King Prawns and then Fermented and Smoked Vegetables came cooked in black tempura flour with a curry and sesame paste. It was a tandoori level of intensity but with a different flavour profile-delicious!M Raw’s Asian bowl featured a Mung bean rice flour and coconut milk crispy pancake stuffed with lettuce, steamed bean sprouts, steamed greens, cucumber salad. This dish was a classic example of Umami – the Asian-inspired savoury flavours that I love.Last up was the Protein Bowl-Argentine sirloin steak, courgette spaghetti, avocado, sweet potato, spiced tomato salsa, buckwheat taco. The avocado and courgette gave the dish a creaminess cut by the tanginess of the tomato; the steak had a good char on it and was given some crunch by the taco. If anything the squash was too sweet an addition.
We had a terrific meal at M RAW. The food was creative, contemporary and global in outlook with a good understanding of flavour and texture -and I didn’t miss the gluten! The range of dining and drinking options makes it a real destination and adds value and a bit of glamour to the Victoria dining scene.
M, Zig Zag Building,
70 Victoria St,
London, SW1E 6SQ