When my better half suggested we go out for a meal on my birthday my immediate suggestion was “Morgan M”. Having been utterly amazed by my last gastronomic experience there, this was an encounter I was itching to have again.
Morgan M sits sufficiently far away from the restaurant chain-laden main drag of Upper Street in London’s trendy, Islington, to cement its position as an eatery that deserves to be set apart. And it’s a seriously classy establishment run by head chef and owner Morgan Meunier previously head chef at ‘The Admiralty Restaurant’ at Somerset House and at the Michelin-Starred ‘Monsieur Max’ in Twickenham.
I would imagine it often elicits surprise that this unfrequented area can harbour such a great restaurant since it’s impossible to guess at the delights lurking within from the gastro pub exterior. Similarly, the interiors, whilst comfortable and warm, are simple, somewhat ordinary and could do with a lick of paint (toilets – I’m talking about you!). All in all, the decor does a good job of belying the truth; that the food is easily of Michelin star quality.
Morgan M’s six course seasonal tasting menu, whilst certainly not the most expensive in London, can still add up to a pretty penny. However, what you receive is worth every single one of those pennies and you couldn’t wish for a better birthday treat.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my food as much as anyone else, but a food critic I am not. However, I do notice when food is great, nay impeccable – as this was. Each dish was delicately prepared with immaculate presentation.
The Seasonal Tasting menu
- Chilled gazpacho, tomato and olive oil sorbet
- Tartar of tuna, tomato tuile, avocado, red pepper sorbet
- Seared fillet of red mullet, poêlée of squid and dried tomato, braised fennel, saffron and lemon broth
- Roast saddle of rabbit, farci of the leg braised with sage, Israeli couscous, herb and lemon jus
- Light vanilla rice pudding, orange tuile
- Light strawberry soup, ‘Pain d’Epice’ ice cream and toast, fresh strawberries
The service, whilst being polite and attentive, was certainly not overbearing. Recent criticism I’d read focussed heavily on the waiting staff announcing each dish as it is brought. The restaurant had obviously taken this to heart as our first dish was brought silently and solemnly to our table. Personally, I would agree with the comments levelled if I was eating in my local chippy. However, this is first-rate food that deserves first-rate service. The occasion just seemed right for a little explanation. So, from then on I asked the waiter and sommelier to describe exactly what was being placed before us!
The dining experience as a whole was fantastic. However, with each dish carrying some rich and intense flavours it can get to be quite filling around the fifth course. As a result, my only criticism is that, with so many dishes served, the mains could have been slightly smaller in portion size.
What further praise can I heap on Morgan M? The food is exemplary and the restaurant is quite the find, due to its rather well hidden location. Great if you either fancy trying something off the beaten track for that special occasion with friends or if you just want to create an intimate meal for two. If you do decide to pay Morgan M a visit then you may also want to pair it up with the wine tasting menu – a unique glass of wine specially selected to accompany each dish. Agreeably, this ends up being a pricey combination but is the perfect partner for the cuisine and essential to understanding the relationship that great wine plays alongside great food.
£100 a head (this includes wine courses at £24 pp plus service)
Finally, as a hospitality consultant, an insight that became clear is that dining on this level is an experience; and one that the customer will gladly pay handsomely for. However, if you plan to have awe inspiring cuisine then you should also consider having the menu design and interiors to back it up. Every touch point should reiterate the quality of the dining. It is the whole experience that will ultimately win the loyalty and repeat custom of your patrons. Be aware they are judging you on the experience you provide them, and if any part of that journey lets them down, be it service, menu, food or interiors this counts towards valuable loyalty points lost!
I’d also recommend introducing a restaurant online reservations engine like LiveBookings. Consumers are expecting a restaurant website of this calibre to provide the tools to book online.