Such a tonic it is to have a meal in a normal restaurant, and I didn’t realise how long it had been after a good year of burgers, pop-ups, small plates, single-item menus, wine tumblers and a lot of queuing.
Remember when you booked a table at a certain time, arrived at that time and somebody took your coats, and offered you some fizz and you were then seated at an empty, set table? Bread and real menus follow (which are NOT placemats) and food is served to you all simultaneously and in courses?
Yep it seems so odd that in a new-ish place is offering what could depressingly now be seen as a traditional approach, outside of the stratospheric bubble of fine dining. Step forward Verru, a curious mix of Scandinavian and Nordic food, prepared with French techniques and served with bold colour.
At the top of burgeoning Marylebone Lane, it’s a tiny place with little ambient noise save the clink of cutlery on porcelain and self-consciously hushed conversation. An inescapably conspicuous arrival jars a bit, but it soon dissipates as you slump into comfy seats, and fresh bread and booze arrive.
Yellow pea soup with a topping of crunchy goose was a fantastic start. The soup was rich and deep in flavour and the goose did the job of posh bacon bits admirably.
A tick list Scandi starter of meatballs on mash with carrot puree was rich and creamy – the crumbly, homemade meatballs providing a bit of texture to the smooth accompaniments. Correctly made, you can discern the different meats involved, including veal which is a must.
The other starters were herring and mackerel, neither being my favourite fish so I must come clean and admit I didn’t taste them. But feedback was lofty indeed – the herring was surrounded by fantastical mushrooms and presented in an on-trend “oh look what I just casually scattered” forage-y style.
Mackerel was also entangled in a forest of Thor only knows what, and with a brick of caramelised ham hock for good measure.
Onto the mains – lamb rump with homemade lamb sausage (so close to that Masterchef chestnut of ‘X three ways’) with a slightly spicy chutney, chickpeas and red pepper. Very good dish, although the lamb sausage had a very high meat content and did almost get the better of me.
Halibut with pork belly was another star. Perfectly cooked and presented.
And finally, the venison. Again, beautifully presented and cooked with the obligatory red sauce and a smidgen of potato. There is some real care and attention in the kitchen at Verru and it shows.
Prices were £7-10 for starters and £16-20 for mains, but there was also a cheaper set menu including a steak option for £16 including a glass of wine. We had a sneaky side order of chips which were triple cooked and excellent – but definitely needed.
I liked Verru a lot and would recommend it to anyone. It isn’t the buzziest scene you’ll encounter in 2013, but go for exquisite presentation (provided you like a good pea swirl), thoughtful flavour combinations and attentive service.
Food – 9/10
Drink – 7/10
Service - 8/10
Value – 7/10
Tap water tales – 5/10 (not offered but once established, topped up a lot with ice)Staff Hotness – 6/10