MORGAN M: A BAD TASTE RUINS A DECENT MEAL
I always thought of water as a refreshing but pretty tasteless liquid. The odd bit of chalkiness perhaps, but not much else.
Strange then that a simple bottle of Badoit managed to leave a sour taste in both our mouths last night and, at the same time, managed to spoil what had otherwise been a perfectly decent if flawed meal.
More of this later.
It was HP’s birthday on Monday and, as is our tradition, it was my pleasure to treat him to a bit of a blow out. High end restaurant dining in London is leaving us ice cold at the moment and with a few exceptions ( Theo Randall, Galvin @ The Windows ) all our recent experiences have been definingly blah.
HP however, recalled a very enjoyable meal at Morgan M last Summer and requested that as his birthday treat. Fine by me. I had never been there, but my one recollection of MM’s food at The Admiralty had been of very able cooking shining through in a truly horrible setting.
After a couple of pints at the rather nice Duchess of Kent, we waddled the short walk down the Liverpool Rd to the small dining room of Morgan M and were shown to a pleasant enough table at the rear of the room. It had been refurbished since HP’s last visit and while the room itself was agreeable enough, they had, HP noticed, crammed in a few more tables which had a definite impact on the service.
More of this later, too.
They offer a three course carte for £34, but we plumped for the tasting menu at £43 which is pretty good value considering that quite a few extras are thrown in.
The first of which was a velvety smooth pumpkin veloute which was sparked up with a blob of pesto and strips of confit lemon zest. I wiped the bowl clean with some excellent sourdough.
HP’s next course, a punchy foie terrine was one of the better examples although the sauternes jelly with it was cloying and too sweet. My starter, a cannelloni of lobster, was a qualified success. The pasta was light and silky, the seafood, fresh and clean. The whole, however, was brought down by the unwelcome presence of undercooked red and yellow peppers in the sauce and a heavy hand with tarragon. Both flavours that are capable of over powering which they certainly did here.
Next up, probably the best course of the evening. A perfectly cooked chunk of turbot with a little farci of crabmeat, some young spinach and a ginger and carrot risotto. As good a dish as I have tried in quite some time. Perfect balance with the ginger adding a little heat but not dominating, the fish having flavour and the rice retaining some bite. Excellent.
Not so, the main courses. Not bad, just blah. I am afraid that nearly all my experiences of meat courses at the higher end tend to disappoint. These two certainly did. For HP, some young pyrranean lamb served a number of interesting but tasteless ways with only a confit shoulder and a little skewer of fatty bits to cause a raised eyebrow. Likewise with my dish of venison, there was little to excite. Competent cooking certainly, but small discs of decent meat were swamped by a slightly fierce sauce a pointless bit of apple, some chestnuts and a chestnut puree. The only “ooh aah” moment provided by a small pasta parcel of offally goodness.
A cleanser of rice pudding in a small brandy snap was pretty enough but pointless in the couli sort of way that high end places think they have to be but really should know better.
Similarly, the dessert. For HP a chocolate thing which he ate without any comment good or bad. For me, a soufflé which was fine, no more. I still recall eating a soufflé one of my first high end meals. It was Interlude De Chavot on Charlotte St. That soufflé was light but rich and staggered me. This, while reasonably prepared, barely registered on me.
Their wine list is priced on the high side and, unsurprisingly, predominantly French. We chose at the lower end, a Corbierres (£34) and a white burgundy (£24) both were enjoyable and worked well with their respective courses.
To the bill was added a 12.5% for service that while efficient enough struggled to cope while the small kitchen and extra tables combined to create uncomfortable gaps between courses.
I expected the bill to be around £150+ so was surprised to see it come in at £190. Mind you we did have tea and coffee and a Poire William each so these things add up.
What did not add up was £5.50 for a bottle of Badoit. Now I know this is the ne plus ultra of waters, but that’s £5.50 for a 75cl bottle of water. At least have the decency to wear a mask and carry a bag marked “SWAG” if you are going to rob me blind.
HP, in full Quixotic mode, went into battle and gave them hell. “well sir, it is in a glass bottle” on of the managers hee haw’d. Not good enough for HP who told them how shameful it was in no uncertain terms. One of the younger waiters was so scared of him he ran away with HP calling after him “don’t walk off while I tell you what a rip off this is”
All good fun, but putting a dampener on the evening.
That little stinger in the tail and the way they dealt with it means I wont be rushing back which I well might have done given that there were enough decent moments in the meal to warrant a revisit.
Not now though. Yep, they scored £5.50 off us. Well done them. They ain’t getting another £190 out of us though, so who loses in the end?