Since opening, Medlar has gone from strength to strength, slowly gaining critical acclaim until it struck the jackpot, winning a much-coveted Michelin Star. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
Medlar has gone for a simplicity of design that allows its food to really sing. The blue-grey colour scheme works well with stripped back woods, neat white tablecloths, bare designer lighting and lime green sofa-style seating. The space is well utilised with different floors and winding stairways that make you feel more secluded than in large hall-like dining rooms. They clearly love London here, as well, with a feature wall-sized map of the city hanging in the upstairs room, which is a nice touch. All in all, they have achieved a great mix of upmarket and relaxed – not an easy line to walk.
Medlar can now count itself among the Michelin Starred elite and this is reflected in the service. You are well looked after from the moment you step through the door but, beyond the pleasantries, this is a staff that clearly know their produce, from the ingredients used to craft the intricate dishes to the well-sourced wine. It helps you to get excited about the offering and lift this above just a mere dining experience. Also, without a celebrity chef at the helm it’s possible to get a booking here just a week before you want to eat, so no annoying six month waiting list.
The menu at Medlar is unfussy and easy to understand from a pricing perspective - £45 allows you to enjoy three courses of your choice with a small supplement for some of the dishes (clearly marked). And the menu has gained a maturity since they launched with refined food that’s beautifully presented and consistently tastes incredible.
The duck egg tart is Medlar’s signature starter for a reason. The duck egg is so perfect you can imagine it gracing the pages of a high end foodie magazine – round with a plump golden yolk, it dominates the plate. It’s prettied up with little leaves delicately placed around the egg, which detracts from the deep red wine sauce and sautéed duck hearts. It is as sensational on the tongue as it is a treat for the eyes. The egg is rich, decadent and runny, the yolk mixing with the heavy sauce. The duck hearts have an iron aftertaste that is countered by an earthy undertone from the turnip puree, which helps to tone down all the rich flavours at play.
For main courses, the roast grouse may come with a £4 supplement but it’s worth every penny. The grouse is well portioned with a moist breast that is perfectly cooked so it’s wonderfully pink in the middle and riddled with juices. It’s served with an old school bread sauce, which works well with the bird, and a rich, meaty pâté
with a definite offal flavour. The game chips add a much needed crisp texture to the dish and round it off perfectly.
If you believe that the veggie option is always inferior then the cheese soufflé here will change your mind. This main course is a stand out dish. Twice cooked, the soufflé is perfect – light, fluffy, creamy and rich. Its served with simple accompaniments of celeriac, cepes and salad but you will hardly notice any of this; so exquisite is this soufflé.
If you want to spend £12 on an additional course (or £5 supplement instead of a dessert) the cheese board is one of the best in London, with a selection from Beillevaire, Paxton & Whitfield and Bernard Antony theatrically brought to your table so you can make your own selection. Talking to the server in depth about the origin and flavour notes of the cheeses really enhances the experience and makes it well worth the extra spend.
Medlar has a large wine menu of very thoughtfully chosen bottles; however, as with most London restaurants and pretty much all Michelin Starred ones, the mark up on the bottles is astronomical. Luckily they are one of the few Michelin restaurants that offer corkage (£20) so go out, spend big on a bottle at retail and bring it in for a more cost-efficient option.
The Last Word
Medlar is an example of a restaurant striving for greatness and being well rewarded for the effort. It may not be one of the better known restaurants in London but it’s certainly one of the best.