If your looking for an exceptional fine dining experience but prefer relaxed surroundings, friendly easy-going staff and affordable à la carte prices, then the award winning Sixty One is the restaurant to visit. Nestled in a quiet street of Marylebone, just behind Marble Arch station and situated alongside residential flats and the occasional 5 star hotels, Sixty One glows with golden sultry tones and the ambience of one of those amazing looking restaurants that feature in the movies. Opulent lighting fixtures, cascading and curving around the restaurant ceiling, big mirrors, unclothed tables, leather clad wooden chairs, happy attentive service; all this creates the charming environment of chef Arnaud Stevens first solo venture.
Drawing experience from his French background and love for Southern French culture and tradition, combined with years spent working with the likes of Gordon Ramsey and Jason Atherton, the skill and attention to detail is powerfully prevalent in every dish, which is exactly the reason Sixty One was awarded 3 AA Rosettes in September 2014.
Adjacent to the restaurant is a champagne bar to entice you for a cocktail or two before (and after) your meal. Also with the same moody lighting and sultry ambience, the layout exudes mystery. My dinning partner and I could almost imagine James Bond slipping in an out. Alchemist and French extraordinaire Jeremy Pascal whipped up two intriguing and original concoctions, the first titled #SixtyOne – a light airy foam of gin, lemon vinegar, manuka honey, and egg yolk, released from a gas canister and layered onto raspberry and earl grey tea. Second was the Lady Marmalade, served as layers of vodka, grand marnier, orange bitters and champagne poured over a lush sticky homemade grapefruit marmite, in a Campari sugar rimmed glass. More than just drinks, these cocktails are glasses full of creativity and imagination.
Moving back into the restaurant our meal started with a basket of homemade bread and butter, the star being a deep rich spongy marmite loaf. Starters were cauliflower soup with slow cooked duck egg and truffle, a beautifully presented dish with a perfectly set top-orbed sous vide egg yolk, and precisely balanced infusion of truffle. Smelling the dish was as good as eating it. Paper-thin octopus carpaccio with red pepper confit, sorrel and sesame was a work of brilliance. The delicate but present flavour of octopus dancing on the taste buds with every mouthful, followed by a refreshing zing from creamy lemon avocado mouse. Mains arrived just as impressive, tender braised beef shoulder, onion emulsion and sea vegetables were rich, layered and very moorish. The second main was a Spanish inspired melt-in-your-mouth salty confit cod, chorizo potato croquettes and aubergine.
I highly suggest asking the waiter to recommend wine pairings for your meals. Along with our seafood and truffle dishes, we tried a cool salty Spanish white produced in a vineyard by the sea, a perfect match for seafood, and a rich red Shiraz from the Rhone region with a slight spice, proving the perfect tango to the braised beef.
Dessert was a plate made in heaven for those with a sweet tooth, chocolate fondant with praline, honeycomb and ice cream. The next was probably one of my favourite in a long time, written on the menu as a ‘cocktail dessert’ the fabulous tequila mockingbird made with hibiscus sorbet, tequila, lime and mint. The drink is served in 2 parts – tequila and lime separated from the richly flavoured hibiscus sorbet, so at your will you may continually pour layers of tequila over the deeply sweet mush and sip away.
Apart from the exceptional food, what really made our night were the charismatic, friendly and sociable and staff. With the love and dedication obvious in every aspect of food, drink and service at Sixty One, no matter how many times the menu changes it’s pretty much a guarantee that each dish will deliver a standard of excellence to be remembered. This restaurant is a real treasure. I’m already excited about my next visit.
Sixty One have fantastic lunch and dinner specials starting at 2 courses for £18.
Address: Sixty One Restaurant, 61 Upper Berkeley Street, London, W1H 7PP
Website: www. sixtyonerestaurant.co.uk
T: 020 7958 3222
Written by Justina Terese, Food Writer and Recipe Developer www.foodforaking.com