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BARBICAN LIFE


tasting menu (which would set you back £50 a head without wine. There is an excellent vegetarian ‘garden’ tasting menu option too at £46). The idea of a tasting menu is to whet your appetite with a variety of tasting experiences and in this respect Morgan M does not disappoint, although depending on one’s specific food preferences some of the tastes will work better than others for each individual so it can be a bit hit and miss. To try the variations my companion and I each opted for different choices where there was one (for the principal starter, main and dessert) which were interspersed with other small courses for which there was no optional alternative – a total of six courses in all. To start there was a creamy veloute,


which to be honest was perhaps a little bland, but then the main starter in both choices was truly excellent. A game terrine was extremely tasty – and perhaps even more so was a lobster and crayfish cannelloni, all beautifully presented as one would expect. Next was one of the non-choice items –


wild sea bass with carrot and ginger risotto and lemon and saffron broth. This was to die for! Beautifully cooked and presented and the combination of flavours amazing. In some ways here it was a shame the portions were small – but in a six-course tasting menu one can’t manage large portions right through! The mains then followed. Here there was a choice of pot roasted fillet of venison with a nice gamy hare farci and a roasted pheasant leg both of which were on the excellent side of good. Pheasant a bit on the stringy side perhaps, but still a great tasting dish. Next came a non-choice rice pudding (very small) in a sweet crunchy casing – which was in the place, one supposes, of a taste cleansing sorbet which might be served elsewhere. Perhaps not great, but then my companion who doesn’t like rice pudding, still finished hers. Finally the desserts – a chocaholics dark chocolate moelleux with a liquid centre and a passion fruit soufflé and sorbet. There were profuse apologies that the soufflé had maybe sunk a little (only a little mind you and not so we had actually noticed) and the offer of a replacement (declined) which says something about the attention to detail of the waiting staff. The tasting menu is designed to be seasonal so it will change from time to time


as new options come into season. One can choose wine from an


interesting, mainly French, wine list which has many small-producer regional options, or, with the tasting menu, one can take up the restaurant's selection comprising a different glass of wine to match each course which adds £30 a head to the experience, but is more than sufficient.


Mostly


excellent dryish whites, but particularly interesting choices were an oloroso sherry to match the game terrine and a sweet red dessert wine from the Roussillon area to go with the chocolate moelleux dessert. One could have followed all this – if one had the space – with an exciting looking cheese board which has garnered great praise elsewhere, coffee etc.


Overall this


would certainly not be a low cost experience, but is not out of line on price with other higher end restaurants in the area. Lest one should think from the above that the tasting menu is the only option, there is an a la carte menu with starters in the £10-15 range and mains in the £20-30 bracket. There is also a special lunchtime and pre-theatre set menu at a very good value £21.50 for two courses or £25.50 for three. For the moment too, one can also walk-in and partake, informally, of a variety of the small tasting dishes in the ‘kitchen gallery’ downstairs which would be an excellent way of sampling some of the interesting dishes designed by the chef. One suspects that Morgan M Barbican


can only go from strength to strength the longer it is established.


It is an excellent


adjunct to the Clerkenwell/Smithfield area which is already very well populated with restaurants and is rapidly becoming one of London’s principal destinations for eating out and nightlife. The restaurant is located at 50 Long Lane, Telephone 020 7609 3560 (note they won’t take reservations on the answerphone). Morgan M Barbican is open for lunch and dinner Mondays to Fridays and for dinner on Saturdays.


Lawrence Williams


Hawksmoor Guildhall – best steaks in London: Maybe?


Hawksmoor Guildhall – but then I wasn’t overly enthused either by my steak when I


Y


ou may be able to tell by the headline but I wasn’t overly enthused by my ribeye steak at the


ate at Peter Luger’s, reputed to be the best steakhouse in New York 24 years in a row! Maybe there’s something about me and steaks – perhaps always expecting more than I get! However other reviews of the Hawksmoor restaurants are riddled with superlatives about the quality and taste of their steaks so perhaps I was just unlucky, out of sorts, or a poor steak connoisseur! But so saying, the latest in the Hawksmoor restaurants (there are two more – one at Spitalfields and one at Seven Dials) does still have a lot going for it – and to be fair my dining companion’s fillet steak was indeed truly excellent.


Indeed she chose


fillet to compare with one she had a week or two earlier at another highly


rated


restaurant and declared The Hawksmoor’s to be definitely superior! The first surprise with the Hawksmoor


Guildhall is its size. There is an imposing doorway to a small street level reception area where there was a pleasant welcome and our coats taken and then we were led downstairs to what proved to be a basement bar area and enormous main wood panelled restaurant. I gather the restaurant and bar between them can seat around 230 diners. Unlike Peter Luger’s in New York (well


in Brooklyn actually across the East River) which is


very much a functional


establishment serving little other than alcohol and steaks (with almost compulsory creamed spinach) with service which could be termed aggressive – but perhaps normal


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