With M Raw and M Grill, chef Michael Reid is stretching his culinary muscle in central London. Neil Gerrard reports
Chef Michael Reid is such a devotee of beef that he has an image of a cow, divided into its various cuts, tattooed on the inside of his left forearm. It has already proven useful with the diners at M Victoria, the new London restaurant from Martin Williams' M Restaurants. "Now, when I want to explain where the rump comes from, I just have to point," Reid explains.
When he left Gaucho in 2013, Reid departed London for Australia, with spells working for chef Ben Shewry in Attica and then Andrew Macdonald's two-Hat restaurant Cutler and Co. He has also worked with Australian celebrity chef Shannon Bennett in his award-winning restaurant Vue de Monde before Williams managed to tempt him back to a full-time position with M in late 2015.
Reid had already been consulting on the M concept's first site on London's Threadneedle Street in 2014, taking time out from Australia to oversee the launch. When the call came to get involved permanently, Reid was ready. "This is the first time I have really been able to say 'this is me on a plate', so it was a very easy decision for me to make," he says.
The restaurant sits on the busy Victoria Street within the Zig Zag building - one of a raft of new developments which are transforming the area. And yet you'd be forgiven for missing it. On the ground floor sits the M Wine Store, and only after you venture inside and down the stairs will you find the M Grill and M Raw restaurants, along with private dining spaces.
The M Grill owes something of its concept to Gaucho, although here beef is available from places other than Argentina: the USA, France, Italy, South Africa and Australia. "Because we are representing six countries in the Grill restaurant, I can't bang the seasonality drum or say it is locally sourced," says Reid. "For me, it is about finding amazing produce within those countries."
He references the kangaroo tartare, mushrooms, egg yolk and nasturtium (£11.50), a dish which is, he promises, far more appetising than it may sound. And of course, it was while living in Australia when he discovered the meat's potential. "When I tried it raw I was just like 'wow, this is amazing meat'."
He also rates the Blackmore Wagyu grade 9++ beef from Australia (inside skirt 250g, £33; sirloin 200g, £95) very highly - "probably the best beef in the world," he says. "But then you put that next to our Argentinian rump on the menu [rump fillet, 250g, £19] which is at the other price point, and it is still unbelievable.
It has a juicy, subtle and delicate taste." It isn't just beef that gets him excited though, and in the Raw restaurant he has more scope to play. "The raw menu is fun to create because it is not my usual style. We are giving it more of an Asian feel and it is a smaller menu, based around sharing." A typical dish is cured trout with buttermilk, lime and pear (£9).
Cured trout with buttermilk, lime and pear
And Reid certainly hasn't been afraid to experiment with desserts - the dulce mousse with buckwheat, bacon and sweetcorn icecream (£6.50) for instance, is a little unusual.
"There is nothing I hate more than going to a restaurant and being blown away by the food until you get to desserts," Reid says.
Changes to the menu are upcoming in recognition of the fact that the clientele is different to Threadneedle Street. Reid has plans to shake up both menus further, perhaps leaving only a few "signature dishes" that are common to both sites. "Threadneedle Street is very masculine and a bit more rustic, whereas Victoria has a more elegant demographic," Reid says.
And he has further ideas up his sleeve for M Victoria, including potentially doing a degustation menu with matched wines, or even a Scandinavian-style juice matching. "There is a lot of scope there for us to do something a bit different," he says. "We don't take ourselves too seriously."
Photograph by Jodi Hinds
From the menu
- Smoked Wagyu tartare, apples, soy-cured egg, foie gras £15
- Boerewors, corn bread, apricot chutney £8.50
- Braised lamb, parsnips, onions £22
- Hake, beer-battered mussels, poached clams, chervil root £18
- Normandy, France, striploin, 250g £25
- Botswana, southern Africa, spiral-cut sirloin, 300g £28
- Salt-baked cheese, apple, bread £8.50
- White chocolate ice-cream, olive oil sponge, meringue, lemon, cucumber £7.50
Zig Zag Building, 70 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6SQ
You need to be a premium member to view this. Subscribe from just 99p per week.
Already subscribed? Log In