Lots of really great restaurants are taking part, allowing us to have a special meal without breaking the bank.
So I decided to treat Michael to a ‘pre-birthday’ dinner at the swanky M restaurant.
(Which doubled as a distraction from the surprise party that I’d organized for him at Radio Rooftop Bar afterward. Sneaky, sneaky.)
The Bookatable M raw experience costs £38.00pp for 4 courses and free-flowing champagne, which sounded pretty bargainous to me.
Due to my grand plans for later in the evening, I made our reservation nice n’ early, at 7pm, which meant that the restaurant was fairly empty when we arrived, but it filled up nicely throughout our meal.
I’m a big fan of M’s décor, which is clean & smart. The incredibly high ceiling and huge glass-front windows create a spacious feel which, combined with nightfall, twinkling lights and the dark furniture, has a rather mysterious & sexy effect.
Or maybe I just have an undiscovered fetish for raw meat.
Cracking on with the deal, as Michael & I studied our options for each dish, my new best friend for the evening appeared out of nowhere and started delivering on the champagne promise.
I must say that M really came through on the free-flowing champagne. Our glasses were continuously topped up and never left to run dry, despite the fast pace that we had set ourselves.
I’ve included M’s usual prices for the dishes that we had below, so that you can decide for yourself whether you think the star deal is good value.
For the first course we tried each of the ‘bites’ available. These were edamame, firecracker sauce (£3.00) and biltong, coriander seeds, black pepper (£5.00).
The edamame were decent. They were firm and the firecracker sauce was tasty. The biltong, however, was sadly a different story – each £1 slither of meat was tough & tasteless.
For our second course, we shared the Cured M plate of tuna, miso, fennel, apple (£8.50) and the pork belly, wombok, chili, Vietnamese mint rice paper roll (£6.50).
The tuna was a true delight; thickly cut and smooth as butter. Miso is one of my favourite flavours and the sauce was both delicious & generous. Me = happy. I requested the dish without fennel as I personally really dislike it, but the paper-thin slices of apple provided a nice contrasting texture and subtle sweetness.
The rice paper roll, on the other hand, not so much. It was incredibly bland, stuffed with plain, overly-crunchy vegetables, and a tiny amount of indistinguishable pork. Honestly, I would have thought it a pork version of surimi if such things existed (they probably do), but it was very watery and fake-tasting.
For our third course, we had another Cured M plate of trout, buttermilk, lime, pear (£9.00) and the kangaroo fillet tartare, mushrooms, egg yolk sauce, mushroom crisps, blue nasturtium (£11.50).
Both Michael & I much preferred the cured tuna M plate, as the buttermilk sauce was, again, very bland, and washed away the subtle flavours of the other components in the dish.
The kangaroo fillet tartare, however, was a game-changer. I’ve never had kangaroo before, let alone raw, but the meat had a delectable, smoky richness to it, and was delicious paired with its various accompaniments.
The fourth course is where it all got very exciting.
We ordered the Argentine rump, dashi vinegar hot stone (not listed on the menu, but I would estimate that it would be priced at £10.00 if it were) and sticky pork, pickle, watercress, kimchi mayo bao (£7.50).
The first bit of excitement came when our sizzling hot plate was placed before us, and Michael eagerly began playing chef.
There’s no getting between a man and his BBQ.
The second bit of excitement came when our waiter realised that he had accidentally given us the smoked Iberico pluma, smoked olive oil hot stone (£5 supplement to the star deal menu, and usually £15.50), instead of our pork bao, and said that we could keep it. MORE FOOD, HURRAY.
The Argentine rump was a total non-affair, with the meat flavourless and in desperate need of seasoning. The Iberico pluma, on the other hand, was the complete opposite, bursting with flavour & delightfully tender.
I personally love a good chip and, having visited M for steak before, knew that their chips pack a punch. The third bit of self-created excitement came when I decided to turn our little hot plate session into a real life BBQ, and ordered a portion of M chips, triple cooked (£4.50), for us to share.
Their chips are seriously good, as are their repeat ketchup serving abilities.
Having reached such a high, the pork bao was very disappointing. The pork itself was juicy & tender, and who doesn’t love kimchi mayo, but the bun itself was extremely dry. In fairness, nothing will ever compare to the hoisin pork buns that we recently devoured at Buddakan, but even those served at Flesh & Buns, which I am almost certain are pre-bought, are leaps & bounds better.
Of course, as it was a ‘birthday celebration’ of sorts, it would have been poor form for us to leave without dessert. At first, we were both disappointed at the lack of chocolate puds featured on the menu but, in the end, settled for two orders of the dulce fondant (£8.00).
Little did I know that this dessert was going to BLOW.MY.MIND.
A slightly crisp, dense sponge oozed a river of creamy caramel from its centre. I was literally in love with my plate. I simply could not get enough, or shut up about it. I even proclaimed it to be better than a chocolate fondant, that’s how good it was!
Our waiter brought us a Happy Birthday plate with some sweet, foamy strawberries as a token gesture.
But not before photobombing Michael.
Overall, we had a great evening at M, but that was more as a result of the good company and free-flowing champagne, than the food. Some of the dishes were very good, but some were really rather disappointing.
Having said that, the star deal is excellent value for money compared with M’s usual prices for the same dishes. We paid £103.50 for two Bookatable star deals, two desserts and service (the chips were on the house, and the Iberico pluma hot stone was an accidental gift). However, had we eaten the exact same dishes without the star deal, the total bill would have come to £109.25, without any alcohol. I’m confident that Michael & I drowned over a bottle and a half of good-quality champagne, which could easily add another £80 to the bill.
It is a stunning restaurant with excellent service, so if you are new to these types of foods, or can’t really/don’t want to splash the cash to eat them where they are served best, then I would definitely recommend M’s raw experience star deal.
I dined as a guest of Bookatable, but all opinions are my own.
P.S. If you’re interested, I lured Michael to Radio Rooftop Bar under the pretense of taking him for a post-dinner aperitif, and he was completely surprised by the crowd of friends gathered outside waiting for him.
It’s fair to say that I was pretty chuffed with myself.
Here are some happy snaps from the epic night:
^ Not too sure what’s going on here, but that is surely the sign of a good night, non?