My experience at M was rather unusual and I shall tell you why.
Victoria has never been a foodie haven save for a few hidden gems but with recent re-developments and construction along Victoria Street, a lot of buzz-worthy shops and restaurants have popped in the area.
Like M Restaurants
. I’ve heard much about the place and it seemed like a really lush spot to visit.
M is divided into three areas: as you walk in, there’s a wine shop/bar where you can peruse rows and rows of beautiful vino, champagne, and fine spirits from all over the world.
Downstairs is split in a cocktail bar, some private dining areas and two main restaurants: M Raw
, where they serve mostly raw (no shit) food ie sushi, tartare, cured meats, salads; and M Grill
, where they serve steaks – some actually of the most expensive cuts in London.
You see, I received my first pay check from the new job and I wanted to celebrate a little and try a new restaurant. I booked an a la carte sitting at M Grill via my OpenTable app
a few days before, got a quick confirmation and all I had to do was go there.
When we arrived, they couldn’t find my reservation so they sat us by the bar/counter area. We were handed menus and I realised they sat us in Raw. Now I usually enjoy sitting by restaurant counters, but I asked for a table at Grill and wanted a table at Grill. So we spoke to the manager.
We explained we were at the wrong part of the restaurant and asked for a table. He then said they don’t usually accept Bookatable bookings on Fridays and I countered with my OpenTable confirmation email. Looking confused, he then suggested we looked at their Bookatable menu and I said I wanted to order a la carte. At Grill, bro. Not at Raw.
With that, he told us to follow him to the other restaurant where he had a table set for us. Fantastic.
Immediately I preferred the ambience at Grill more than Raw. Raw seemed more of a place you pre-tank with buddies (if you can talk over the uber loud music) whereas Grill is more of a place to have relaxed catch up dinners. The colour scheme is relaxing and it’s spacious with a 120 capacity.
Complimentary bread slate arrived with two morsels of bread with walnuts and fruit, some salt and pepper and a dollop of butter with scratchings.
For starters, I ordered the yellow fin tuna (£10.50) from the raw selection. It came a little bit warmer than room temperature and I wish they’d served it in a small bowl of ice instead to keep the freshness of the fish.
Accompanied with a rather massive bottle of soy sauce, jalapeños and pickled ginger.
I’m sure they’d used premium ingredients to justify the mark-up, but it was slightly underwhelming. I couldn’t help but compare the taste to the not-so-successful sashimi I had from Eat Tokyo, possibly because of the temperature.
Faring better was the buttermilk fried chicken (£9.50). I thought this was rather successful as there was enough bite to the fillets and a nice flavour to the coating.
Condiments included “firecracker” sauce which I thought lacked heat, a bread sauce that was okay, and some cornichons.
It was a rather lacklustre start, but I had high hopes for our steaks, aka the “finest meat cuts from all over the world”.
AND THEN IT WENT DOWNHILL.
After we finished our starters it took a while before our table got cleared, and longer until we had our mains.
One of the servers came by and poured water on my glass. I told her not to – twice – but she kept pouring anyway. When we asked her to take the bread from our table, she actually scoffed!!!
About twenty minutes later, I was getting really hangry so we followed up on our steaks.
From my vantage point (a good view of the kitchen and the pass), staff were noticeably frantic. Seriously, they were running around as if they’ve had four espressos each! We’ve had four different people attending to us and that probs caused more confusion. I’d always thought the best way to deal with big restaurants is to have 1-2 servers per section. But who am I to say, I don’t work in hospitality.
Anyway. Our mains came half an hour later.
B ordered the Piedmontese rib-eye
(£40/300g) rare. If price indicated quality then this should’ve guaranteed awesomeness. It’s more expensive than my favourite steakhouse Goodman
(£34/400g USDA Angus, 150-day cornfed) and even Hawksmoor
(£31/400g). Still, I was particularly excited to try this too as it was meant to be a fine piece of meat.
Unforch, it didn’t deliver. Although cooked rare as ordered, a fourth of it was inedible due to fat and a weird texture due to cooking.
On recommendation, I ordered the Botswana spiral-cut sirloin (£28/300g). This cut is marinated in herbs and spices so I thought this would be tasty. It was a thinner cut than the typical sirloin, but I still ordered mine rare.
It came pink, alright. But it was, at best, medium in parts but mostly medium well. I didn’t bother returning it because it took so long to arrive and my stomach was grumbling so much already. I was rather frustrated, because I just wanted a nice meal and so far it wasn’t a great experience.
I asked for Malbec onions (£2) to top my steak with and that may have added to the flavour, but without those I thought the steak was a teensy bit underseasoned. The texture was a bit chewy, possibly due to the inconsistent cook in parts.
The sides almost saved the meal, though.
The chips (£4.50) were nice and crunchy.
The broccoli (£4.50) is cooked perfectly. Crunchy and fresh, how I like it.
We didn’t finish around a third of our food because it just didn’t blow our minds. By the time our plates were cleared, I did something rather unusual: skipped the dessert and coffee menu and just asked for the bill.
In my humblest of opinions, I think service should really be given a lot of thought. In a court of law this will end up as hearsay, but this point about M has been circulating amongst peers in the London dining scene and is possibly the reason why the place is getting mixed reviews.
This may now seem a bit of nitpicking but honestly the points just contributed to the whole experience:
- Three people at reception couldn’t find our booking, even after showing them the confirmation email – and they ended up sitting us at the wrong restaurant!
- A server who poured our water by the counter had VERY sweaty pits which was off-putting.
- The scoffing waitress who poured my water (even when I told her not to twice) seriously needs an attitude check.
- The steaks, which were meant to be their big selling point, were not up to standards.
- Staff shouldn’t be seen running around like headless chickens/running around/arguing about especially where punters can see.
I eat out about four nights a week and as mentioned, nothing frustrates me more than a bad meal
. I’ve seen a number of potentially awesome restaurants let down by service. Sometimes, food makes up for it. But if both food and service don’t fare well, then it might as well be farewell.#RantOver
To be fair…
When I told one of the servers our mains took a while to come, she took the wine off our bill.
The manager, Margaret (?), then came and apologised for the wait and asked how we found the meal. We said our steaks were not great and she took a further 30% off our reduced bill. So from £150, we only paid around £80. Not bad of a bargain, I suppose, but still.
Overall, it wasn’t such a great experience for a first visit. I had high hopes, as M Grill was meant to serve the finest quality steaks in town – and at that price point, you’d expect the food to be out of this world.
I’m genuinely not bashing M, I’m merely revisiting my first visit experience. The place has a lot of potential and I really want it to do so much better and pioneer a plethora of great food spots in Victoria. It would be fair to give it another shot, but I’d need a bit of convincing.
3 Zig Zag Building,, 70 Victoria St, London SW1E
Ave spend pp: £70 pp