It is amazing what happens in London – you have close friends and you plan on seeing them often. You part ways by saying “we should do this more often” and suddenly six months goes by and you are sitting at newly opened Margot trying to remember when was the last time you actually saw each other. Our friends Richard and Cristina love food and Richard had heard about Margot from a friend that had been there during their first week officially opened and raved about it.
It is rare that you hear great reviews right upon a restaurant’s debut and we wanted to check it out.
The space where Moti Mahal previously resided has been completely transformed and there were no traces of the previous décor. The restaurant is beautifully laid out over two levels and the main floor has a gorgeous and bright open kitchen. In a way it reminded me of Scott’s in Mayfair but brighter and more open.
Sadly I was told to not take any pictures as they wish to save the mystery of the ambiance and the wow factor for when people walk in. I was allowed to take pictures of the food but sadly, despite my friend’s generous efforts to try to light up the plates, the pictures of the food didn’t turn out great.
What we ate:
Carpaccio di gamberi rossi Siciliani: my friend Richard said that the prawn carpaccio at newly opened Margot was as good as the one at http://www.fratirossi.it/fratirossi/ in Sardinia where they have become famous for the same dish, which they have been serving for 20 years. The prawns were gorgeous and the raspberry vinegar dressing was very subtle and not too fruity and the green bean salad added a nice crunch. Gorgeous dish!
Tartara di tonno: this was the one starter we didn’t care for. Stewart and I don’t like bottarga very much, but we wanted to try the dish and when we couldn’t identify any traces of bottarga, we actually missed it as it lacked seasoning and some saltiness would have been good. Also the dish was absolutely microscopic and just not interesting.
Tartara di manzo: probably our favourite dish of the evening – beef tartare with scrambled eggs and black truffles. It worked beautifully. The runny eggs added an amazing creaminess to the chunky beef and the truffles, as per usual, performed their function of making any dish taste better.
Burrata Pugliese: perfectly creamy Burrata from Puglia served with ripe heritage tomato salad and basil pesto. Simple but perfectly executed. I was trying to take the pictures quickly so it got all blurry!
At this point of the meal we were impressed and Cristina was already planning to bring her mom back in December when she visits from the US. Sadly, the mains weren’t as impressive and our two pastas came tepid and had to be sent back. The manager took them away rapidly and apologized profusely and we very quickly got steaming hot new bowls of pasta. The boys would have sent their ossobucos away too as they also weren’t hot but worried it would take too long.
Casarecce al tartufo: the a short twisted pasta is home-made and perfectly cooked but I found the creamy sauce made of the topinambur (Jerusalem artichokes) a bit too sweet and I missed a more savoury taste. The black truffles were generously shaved but the bites that didn’t have truffles in particular were too sweet.
Tagliatelle con ragú di leper: Tagliatelle with hare ragu. It was tasty once it came back warm. Nice chunky ragu and well cooked pasta. I would have preferred a bit more sauce but Cristina is half Italian and said it was just right – I trust her judgment.
Ossobuco di vitello: baked veal ossobuco, saffron risotto “alla Milanese”, veal jus: both husbands ordered this. The ossobuco was a bit dry but the risotto was creamy, al-dente and delicious. The marrow also congealed very quickly as it started cooling down.
Cannolo Siciliano: flattened Sicilian cannolo, ricotta cream, pistachio ice cream: my friend Claire had asked us to order this as she loves cannolo and wanted a full report so we did it – just for her… Thank you Claire! It was the best dessert of the evening. The cannolo shell was flattened and served in layers with creamy, delicious ricotta between the layers (looking like a mille-feuille but the pastry had cannolo texture and taste) and with a scoop of perfect pistachio gelato on the side.
Affogato al caramello: when I saw this I immediately knew that Stewart would order it, as caramel and coffee have his name written all over it – Caramel mousse, vanilla ice cream, “affogato” with espresso coffee! The mousse was nice but when coffee was poured on top, it just developed a slightly odd lumpy texture. Maybe a traditional affogato with a caramel sauce instead? Caramel mousse, vanilla ice cream, “affogato” with espresso coffee.
Tiramisú: they brought this by mistake and ended up leaving it for us. Sadly it was more like a mascarpone airy mousse coated in cacao and lacked texture. We also found the amarena cherry sauce a bit too strong.
Delizia al limone: lemon sponge with lemon sorbet. A bit too subtle and light or maybe more summer appropriate.
I don’t think it is fair to judge service after a restaurant has been open for a week. The head waiter/manager was superb and if he was the only one, service would be an overwhelming 10 but the others we interacted with didn’t impress us as much, but I believe he will be training them and service will be very good as they solve the small issues like food temperature and timing of service. He did remove the two pastas AND all desserts from our bill which was an absolutely fantastic touch.
In sum: most starters were fabulous and the restaurant has a lot of potential but maybe better to give them a bit of time to work out the kinks and refine some of the dishes.
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