I have amassed a mountain of respect for Marcus Wareing. Brought into our line of vision by Gordon Ramsay, who he has since eclipsed rather massively through his culinary achievements and dedication to staying firmly in the kitchen, where a good Chef should spent the majority of his working time. With Restaurant Marcus Wareing, his highly successful first restaurant at The Berkeley Hotel, firmly established... opening a second restaurant was the next natural step for Wareing.Interestingly, The Gilbert Scott is also located within a very glamourous hotel, the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, which is certainly a good business decision in my opinion, although Chefs of Wareing's calibre never have problems filling tables. In fact, since its opening in late April, The Gilbert Scott has been fully booked almost constantly although securing a table certainly isn't impossible if you book in advance. The hotel is grand in a very old-school way; luxurious and old-money, rather than the boring overly styled sort of establishments that seem to be taking over the City.On the particular evening I dined, I was joined by wonderful food loving friends... The utterly hilarious and mysterious 'Uncle Ji' of Twitter fame @VhatYouTalking and the talented Chef and Supper Club host Lee Behan of @FridayFoodClub and his lovely wife (Mrs Friday Food Club). (Well worth visiting his website: http://www.fridayfoodclub.com and we settle in at the bar with it's comfortable leather slouchy chairs and attentive service. A truly lovely place for dainty Negronis and other such classic cocktails; we could easily have whiled away many an hour in the bar alone. Finally seated at the table, we peruse the menu and each settle on our chosen dishes for the evening. Decadence is the order of the day and how well-suited to The Gilbert Scott, it is.Lobster is one of those choices that I am always ashamed to make. Lobster is lobster, it's not exactly the most adventurous choice on the menu but never one to be swayed by general concensus, I opt for the lobster salad and I wasn't disappointed. Wonderfully meaty morcels of lobster meat, juicy and sweet with mixed leaves, croutons and an almost Marie Rose-like sauce and fennel shards proved to be the perfect opener to the meal. Not a big lover of quail, my friend assured me that I MUST try the quail Mulligatawny - served in a dainty little cocotte pot - and WOW, is all I can say. It is practically the only time I have actually enjoyed quail and wished I had ordered it. The quail was moist and tender, on the bone and bathed in a curried broth that did nothing to overpower the delicate bird. Superb.For mains, the haddock and mussels poached in Camel Valley Brut sauce was lovely and light which in our case was a good idea as between the four of us, we ordered a HELL of a lot of side dishes; Peas pudding, cauliflower cheese, roast potatoes, chips, spinach, mini yorkshire puddings and (wait for it) Paxo stuffing. Yes, Paxo stuffing! This, my friends, is what happens when you put 4 die-hard decadent foodies together on a table. Excess takes over and you end up ordering double the amount of food required to satisfy. No matter, life is short and is to be enjoyed. Our lovely Scottish waiter (young Nick) is highly amused by the sheer volume of dishes we have ordered. He deserves a special mention, because he was so incredibly efficient and attentive. Old school service of this kind is perfectly at home in an establishment such as The Gilbert Scott and if only more restaurants would try to ensure the same, then London would be a better place for it.Stuffed beyond all recognition, I find it impossible to refuse the offer of dessert. I would ultimately only end of regretting it later on in the evening, so I hone in on a classic Bakewell tart (which seems to be appearing on menus everywhere) and it was rather wonderful, although incredibly sweet. I could have lived without the icing on top, but then again it wouldn't have been a proper Bakewell tart without it. The moist almondy sponge encased just a hint of jam and made for the perfect dessert with it's accompanying dollop of Jersey cream. Perfection that may have just sent me slightly over the edge of what my stomach feels comfortable with.
After dinner, we are given a tour of the kitchens and there, busily toiling over the pass is Marcus Wareing himself. This is the most pleasing part of the evening to me. Shunning the limelight and PR shenannigans of his new opening, Wareing has his head down and is focused on delivering top quality food to his dinners. The Chefs table in the kitchen is filled with diners, many of whom are food writers I recognise and Wareing doesn't take his eyes off the pass for a second. He isn't schmoozing them or chatting with them; he is a Chef and is dedicated to his craft. An admirable quality in a Chef and especially in Wareing, who could so easily become the latest TV darling of our nation, but hasn't succumbed to the bright lights and camera flashes, thankfully.
As we leave, we spy a large table of about 16 or so of some of the most well known Chefs, restaurateurs and critics in the industry. Peter Gordon, Yotam Ottolenghi and Trevor Gulliver but to name a few... all seated in a cramped manner at a table in the bar tucking into their chosen dishes, seemingly just happy to be there. Who knew Tuesdays nights were the new Friday? The Gilbert Scott could be set to eclipse Heston Blumenthal's 'Dinner' restaurant as the greatest new opening of 2011. Either way, it is a MUST-visit destination for serious foodies who are looking for something infinitely less formal than Wareing's first opening. It's a real slice of what is best and should be revered about Britain and it's food... and what a thoroughly enjoyable experience it was.
The Gilbert Scott
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, London NW1 2AR
Tel: +44 207 278 3888