Exploring M Victoria:
A year or so ago I was at the Regional Finals for the San Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year contest. I knew some of the entrants – in particular Adam Handling. But the contest was won by an ‘outsider’ for me – from a restaurant I’d never visited. It was George Kataras, Sous Chef at M restaurants in London with a dish called “Whole Turbot”. I was intrigued. The Head Chef at M Victoria is Mike Reid, who trained at Le Gavroche and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay before moving to Melbourne. Back in London he helped opened M Victoria and the restaurant has subsequently won a number of awards including the Open Table diners choice for 2017 and ‘Best for Steak and Seafood’ in Tatler
It’s taken a while for me to do more than drink a glass of wine at M Victoria, though that is something I’d recommend heartily since the wine retailer has a selection of around 130 different wines on offer by the glass or by a sample sip and once you’ve tasted, you can buy to take home or sit and drink the night away. You buy from a ‘vending machine’ using an M-branded credit card, with enomatic machines keeping the wine at the perfect temperature and protecting against oxidation.
This time I went along to sample the food though, and I was very glad to have the chance to do so. For early on a Monday evening, the restaurant was lively and there was a great atmosphere.
The menu is intriguingly structured around steak selected from six countries – the USA, Argentina, France, South Africa, Italy and Australia. And the rest of the menu mirrors that sourcing with dishes like Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Ike Jime Kingfish Sashimi to start for example.
We spent quite a lot of time trying to work out what to start with. In the end, my companion chose the Smoked Wagyu Tartare with apple, horseradish, egg and foie gras. It did sound delicious and it was almost my own choice, but a whole egg yolk would have been more than I wanted. I hate restaurant guests who order ‘caesar salad hold the anchovies’ or ‘ham and mushroom omelette, but can it made with egg white and parma ham trimmed of all fat. Ordering something you WANT as it is on the menu is much the best option surely? That way you taste food as the chef intends. So, I picked the tuna and watermelon – tuna sashimi with vodka watermelon, seaweed and yuzu. Delicious – it was light and refreshing and an excellent way to start a meal where my main course was inevitably going to be red meat! The yuzu dressing worked beautifully with the firm fresh tuna sashimi and, having not checked the menu carefully, I spent a few minutes trying to work out why my watermelon had a subtle ‘kick’.
Meanwhile, the Wagyu Tartare was going down very well. I had a taste of the meltingly tender meat with just a touch of egg yolk and foie grass. My companion was particularly impressed with the pairing of apple to cut through and add a piquancy to the dish.
We did both order steak for our main courses. In my case a USDA prime fillet from Creekstone Farms, Kansas which was lean, tender and perfectly cooked for me. Served with M Chips and a green salad, I was a happy woman.
My hungry companion wanted a larger portion and picked the Botswana (South African) Rib-Eye, which at 400g is a substantial portion. We’d have liked a little more choice of steaks for that reason alone – a larger fillet or rump perhaps since a hungry diner is shoe-horned into the rib-eye. Though perhaps we should have shared the International Steak Board which, at £120, gives you a taste of pretty much everything on offer.
Both steaks were perfectly cooked and we loved the offer of toppings and sauces, though neither of us indulged in toppings and in my case, although I ordered a sauce, I didn’t actually use it because the steak was well flavoured, pillow soft and tender.
To drink we enjoyed a bottle of ‘Collection M Black Label’ – a Malbec that is exclusive to M Restaurants. Beautifully rounded, it is 20% aged in new French oak and makes the kind of wine that pairs perfectly with steak.
Desserts didn’t quite match the quality of the starters and main courses. Everything sounded wonderful but the pastry of my muscovado tart wasn’t crisp enough for my liking and the liquorice overpowered the chocolate creameux.
My companion’s ‘Pina Colada’ looked pretty and the coconut sorbet was highly rated, but the rum soaked ginger cake simply wasn’t moist enough.
Next time I’ll go with my instinct and order a dessert cocktail – salted caramel espresso martini sounds rather fine doesn’t it!
Overall, we loved M Victoria. There’s plenty of space, with comfy semi-circular booths surrounding the central dining area. Service is efficient and friendly without being intrusive. There’s also a private club area aptly called ‘The Den’ which would be perfect for anyone looking for work/meeting space around Victoria.
Zig Zag Building,
74 Victoria St,
London, SW1E 6SQ