Having strolled past the elegant and refined exterior of 108 Brasserie on numerous occasions in Marylebone; I finally managed to book myself in to the restaurant to satiate my curiosity.
The exterior has that upscale, discreet look with protective vegetation that you would imagine seeing on the charming streets of a posh area like Saint Germain-des-Prés in Paris.
Inside, it is divided into 3 areas: the brasserie, the bar and the pantry. There isn’t one area that would fail to impress your date if you were looking for a romantic night out for 2. The brasserie where we sat has luxurious red leather chairs and glistening marble table tops. Even though they do all day dining from breakfast to dinner, you do feel coming to 108 Brasserie is a special occasion to savour.
Despite the French appearances, the menu does have a very strong patriotic British feel to it. There will be a common theme throughout every part of your meal here: they use expertly sourced local produce and the finest ingredients. There is nothing overly complicated on the menu: we ordered simple starters like smoked salmon with avocado and West Mersea native oysters. I am not a massive fan of Guiness brown bread, but it did a brilliant job soaking up the fattiness from the salmon. As autumn approaches, now is the ideal time to enjoy native oysters and the West Mersea versions were sweet, gently chilled with a touch of sea salt.
A particular joy of visiting 108 Brasserie is checking out their dish of the month. For the November 2016 edition, we had an outstanding honey-glazed veal cutlet. Apart from giving the meat a sweeter taste, the honey also makes the meat more tender. You have to wonder why don’t more chefs use honey in their cooking. It was finished off with a decadent Pommery mustard béarnaise and a wonderfully caramelised shallots. This is the kind of main course, that reading or writing about it automatically makes you hungry.
The only disappointment of the night was the warm chocolate fondant with peanut butter ice cream. When the chocolate in the centre doesn’t come out gooey and hot, then you do have to give an automatic fail unfortunately. Desserts were redeemed by the interesting brown bread ice cream, which was similar to cookies and cream in texture and wasn’t overly sweet like most ice creams. Although the sweetness levels were made up by the accompanying honeycomb.
108 Brasserie is the kind of classic, mostly dependable restaurant that you know you can walk into in 10 years time and the decor wouldn’t have dated and the food is still much-loved.