Address: The Berkeley, Wilton Pl, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RL
Bookings: booked with Bookatable – set menu £45 per person
Price: £££ (alcohol included)
Our mid-week trip to Marcus, the two-Michelin-starred restaurant in the Berkeley Hotel, Knightsbridge, has me pondering exactly what the priorities of the Michelin rating agency are.
Don’t get me wrong, Marcus is in no way a bad restaurant. It is a good restaurant. The food was gorgeously presented, every course a shimmering little structure of art on the plate. A vast army of waiters and waitresses – occasionally outnumbering the diners – floated across the restaurant, immaculately mannered and well-informed, almost desperate to pull out a chair or re-fold a napkin.
The food itself was pleasant. My partner in culinary crime enjoyed a starter of cured salmon, calamansi, shallot and cucumber, a cooling, refreshing number that livened up the palette without burdening the stomach. I had a pork belly, with carrot, mustard and rose, which was satisfying enough, although the rose did give it an overly perfumed quality.
For the main event, I ate a roasted cod with a green bean sauce, with shrimps littered around the perimeter of the fish. The cod, not typically the most exciting of fish, was nevertheless well-cooked, whilst my partner’s steak was rich and succulent.
One of the major pleasures of eating in a restaurant like Marcus is to watch with fascination the endless parade of multi-millionaire foreigners who inhabit Knightsbridge and eat in its restaurants. At the other side of the room sat two Chinese people, barely out of their teens, who spent the entire evening texting, showing far more interest in their mobile phones than in their food, and certainly more than in each other, although I wouldn’t have been surprised to discover they were texting each other.
In the middle of the restaurant a bulbous, bearded Russian man, with the build of a wrestler, entertained two blonde compatriots, bellowing jokes at the top of his lungs and laughing uproariously as he gradually slipped further and further down his chair. And on the other side of the room a young boy of perhaps 11 sat with his hoodie up over his head, sulking next to a stressed looking nanny as he prepared to tuck into hundreds of pounds worth of food. Ah, the variety of life!
There are only 11 restaurants in all of London with 2 or more Michelin stars. 11! And to my mind, there is no way Marcus is one of the best 11 restaurants in the capital judged purely on the basis of food. I have eaten better at Barafina, at Otto’s, at Ember Yard, to name just a few.
Michelin seems to be infatuated with an old-world style of service, the hovering waiter, the perfectly presented dish, the elegant surroundings, that doesn’t resonate all that much with me. We booked through Bookatable, and the set-menu was excellent value.