M Grill (Victoria): where “the finest” didn’t make the cut

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.
 
M Grill
3 Zig Zag Building,, 70 Victoria St, London SW1E
Ave spend pp: £70 pp
M Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoSquare Meal

 

 

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17 Comments

  1. 7th February 2016 / 2:35 pm

    Yikes! It sounds more than a little haphazard and I'm just stunned mullet by those steaks… that is not rare, nowhere near it in fact. Ugh.

  2. 7th February 2016 / 5:02 pm

    So interesting to read. We ate at M Raw and I haven't tried the grill yet. Service wise it's hard to judge as I've popped in there for a drink before and I've met the chef so we're already friendly with the staff. I thought the food at Raw was good but not mind blowing and I still want to try the Grill. Overall my favourite thing there is the atmosphere. Maybe it was an off night? I hope you give it another chance.

    • 7th February 2016 / 5:30 pm

      Definitely agree that the atmosphere is great, I really love the look and feel of Grill! I do want to give it another try, I am hoping for its sake that it really was a one off! X some of the staff were really friendly but some were just UGH! x

  3. 7th February 2016 / 6:18 pm

    I'm in total agreement!! I work right by the M Restaurant at Bank and have been for lunch there and was totally underwhelmed. The staff we borderline rude and just not very helpful and my steak came overcooked too. I asked for it to come rare and it came medium, but like you it had taken a while between starters and mains and we had to get back to our office so I didn't send it back. We had great starters though. But at those prices it really should be delivering more that good sides and starters in my opinion. x

    • 7th February 2016 / 11:23 pm

      1) I didn't realise the City one wasn't great either! That's really bad if both branches have bad service, non?
      2) We work close to each other! Drinks soon, maybe? 🙂

  4. 8th February 2016 / 12:01 am

    Haha, I've been waiting for this write-up!! This is the kind of review I want to read, H – completely upfront and honest. Service like that can completely ruin a meal (it happened to me last summer at Kopapa, where a waiter actually yelled at my mum to wait) and it's definitely best to report it to the manager or write it up, as you've done, to avoid other customers having the same bad experience! Such a shame about the steaks and the incompetence (seriously, I'm impressed….) and at least they were willing to give you a good discount after all that. xx

    • 8th February 2016 / 1:32 pm

      Oh wow, I've complaint about Service at Kopapa too, about a year and a half ago!

      Shame about M though, seems like there really is an ongoing issue they need to address! Yes, fair enough for them to give a good discount but I would genuinely be happy to pay more for an out of this world experience! x

  5. 8th February 2016 / 9:41 am

    Haha! Your face in that photo says it all! That kind of service is inexcusable. I would have walked out at the lost-my-booking stage! Won't be going with this kind of write-up, along with Vicky's experience above! I don't have that kind of time or ££ to waste.

  6. 9th February 2016 / 12:16 pm

    I haven't visited any of the M restaurants yet, there's one near where I live in the City but I'm not impressed with the service issues you experienced

    • 9th February 2016 / 8:53 pm

      Oh Suze, Vicky Dalton-Banks said she wasn't too impressed there either :/ I hope they fix this issue soon! x

    • 9th February 2016 / 8:51 pm

      I tried not to as I was already rather frustrated, but to be fair they did give us a big discount to "make up for it". Still…

  7. 12th February 2016 / 2:42 pm

    In my opinion both parts of M are underwhelming. I've only eaten in the Threadneedle restaurant but the raw food was very poor (my tuna sashimi was actually still frozen in parts) and, although I do think the steak and chips are very good, they don't justify the price tag by any means. It does sound like a bloody shambles in Victoria though and I'm sad your celebration meal didn't go to plan! Lots of love, Andrea xxx

    Andrea's Passions

    • 12th February 2016 / 10:20 pm

      Yikes, sounds like it' s "Three strikes you're out!" for Threadneedle St now! But seriously though, the price point is seriously ridiculous for service and food! 🙁

  8. 25th February 2016 / 1:58 pm

    It's funny but I've never really felt any desire to try M, there's something about it I just can't put my finger on. I went to a drink event at the one in the city and it just didn't appeal to me at all. And N=nothing annoys me more than a bad steak that isn't cooked how you asked!

    C x | Lux Life

    • 27th February 2016 / 10:04 am

      Yeah, it was strange I think it's trying to be something it isn't. Hopefully they figure out the bad service part and hone their food! x