20 Mercer Street (restaurant entrance on Monmouth Street), London, WC2H 9HD www.monmouthkitchen.co.uk
Monmouth Kitchen is the second restaurant from Edwardian Hotels London, located on Monmouth Street in Seven Dials. Monmouth Kitchen is, similarly to its sister restaurant May Fair Kitchen, a sharing dish-inspired restaurant, bringing together flavours of contemporary Peruvian cuisine, and Italian classics. After heading to their launch party a few weeks back, we were suitably impressed and returned to give the dishes a real go.
The feel of the restaurant is very modern Ã¢â‚¬â€œ white marble tables, white floors, white chairs and lots of clean, simple lines. However, they pay homage to the Peruvian influence with black brick walls to separate different seating areas and a ceiling that looked like it was made from dried grass. All this creates a relaxed and friendly environment that is perfectly pleasant to spend time in.
We started lunch with a selection of cocktails Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the best way to start any lunch in my opinion. I tried the Inca Punch, a tasty combination of BarSol Italia pisco, pineapple, lime and sugar with an absinthe mist which, all combined, creates a fruity and refreshing drink.
My dining partner tried the intriguing Cacao Rum Old Fashioned Ã¢â‚¬â€œ created with El Dorado 8-year-old and 12-year-old rums, it is served with Peruvian cacao in a cone on the side and you are encouraged to try a piece of cacao in your mouth and sip the Old Fashioned before adding to your drink. Both were very good.
Then, on to the food. Monmouth splits its menu into Italian dishes and contemporary Peruvian dishes and, as it is designed to be a sharing menu, we managed to cover quite a few. Also it is important to note, in true sharing menu style, the dishes arrive on your table as they are ready rather than all at once so you are never lacking something tasty to tuck in to.
The first thing to arrive at our table were the salmon tacos with a jalapeno sauce. These tiny tacos may be bite-sized, but they are packed full of flavour. Salmon coated in a tangy jalapeno sauce, with a refreshing squeeze of lime juice. Our introduction to the food at Monmouth Kitchen set very high standards.
Next sea bass ceviche with avocado, white corn and red onion. Another tasty treat (although the sauce the sea bass is marinated in isn’t the most photogenic thing in the world). Soft sea bass that melts in the mouth, creamy avocado and pieces of corn that have absorbed all the lime juice, creating little balls of zesty tartness that explode in the mouth. Yum.
This was swiftly followed by white ragu and mozzarella arancini. Now, when I tried the arancini at May Fair Kitchen, I didn’t think they could get much better. However, these balls of what is essentially fried rice and cheese were simply divine. Cheesy and rich with a perfectly crisp outside, served with a creamy and pungent garlic sauce. The lunch was going from one height to the next.
Monmouth Kitchen’s signature dish came next Ã¢â‚¬â€œ smoked lamb cutlets with red anticucho, served on a hot lava stone. Due to the lava stone, the dish arrived with a lot of theatre sizzling loudly. This also means if you don’t like your lamb cooked as pink as I do, you can leave it on the stone for slightly longer to let it cook.
After one bite, the lamb quickly shot its way to the top of the lamb leader board. The sauce was a wonderful mix of complex flavours Ã¢â‚¬â€œ smoky, tangy, spicy and, most importantly, thick. I would have quite happily eaten this over and over again.
More tacos followed Ã¢â‚¬â€œ tuna with chilli lemon and scallop ceviche. Again, a perfect balance of flavours meant these little treats really were just that.
The sliced beef tenderloin with anticucho is definitely worth trying. Soft, rare beef coated with another tangy, warming anticucho, Simple, high-quality ingredients prepared well Ã¢â‚¬â€œ you can’t really go wrong.
Nduja salami pizza with soft cream cheese was the only slightly disappointing dish of the day. It wasn’t that it was particularly bad but, the base was slightly chewy and the nduja not quite spicy enough. On any other day it probably would have been perfectly satisfactory but, when put side-by-side with the other creations coming out of the kitchen it simply didn’t stack up.
The final savoury dish was a hands-on creation. Robata corn on the cob is served with salted chilli and lime. To put this dish together, you dip your lime in the chilli salt, and then rub on the corn. You can adjust the spice level by addig more or less chilli salt, which makes it a great dish for everyone Ã¢â‚¬â€œ in my case, I coated it on in a thick layer. A fun way to end this portion of our lunch.
After all that, we finished the meal with two simple, but scrumptious desserts. Chocolate caliente consisted of warm Peruvian spring rolls which oozed with chocolate, served with fresh passion fruit and a coconut sorbet. This was accompanied by one of the best coffee-based desserts I have ever tried Ã¢â‚¬â€œ CafÃƒÂ© almendra. Layers of coffee brÃƒÂ»lÃƒÂ©e, chocolate cacao, almond ice cream and mascarpone amaretto crÃƒÂ¨me all served in a delicate espresso cup. My only complaint? I wanted so many more.
Overall, a simply spectacular meal from Monmouth Kitchen, accompanied by attentive, friendly service. I could quite happily spend many more hours here.