REVIEWS, March 13, 2014
Overall Value
out of 5
  • Food
  • Service
  • Ambience
Marani, 54-55 Curzon St, London, W1J 8PG

A quirky Mayfair novelty, this family-owned Georgian restaurant (on the former site of Tempo, RIP) offers a charmingly old-fashioned, if not especially polished, experience, quite at odds with its location.

We all have certain expectations of the styling of a new Mayfair restaurant nowadays. So it was a bit of a shock to see the presence of this Georgian family-owned newcomer advertised by a rain-spattered A-frame blackboard on the street outside – it’s not the sort of advertisement generally regarded as ‘comme il faut’ in these parts. And where, waiting at the door to ‘welcome’ me, were the de rigueur clipboard Nazis? Indeed, where was anyone to welcome me? Or at least to confirm that this half-lit restaurant was open for business at all.

Having ultimately ascertained that it was, I sat for some time in glorious isolation, until another customer eventually walked in. Then, surreally, a pair of men, one of whom – contemplating the almost silent and deserted dining room – asked for ‘a quiet table’. Inevitably, they were sat between the only two tables already occupied.

My people-watching was interrupted by the arrival of my bread (home made, and very good) and then by my bean ‘n’ bacon soup. The latter had come strongly recommended, but seemed pretty unremarkable, in either consistency or taste.

‘How was your soup, Sir?’, asked one of the charming staff.
‘Fine, thank you.’
‘And are you waiting for other food?’
Well, obviously, I thought, as you only offer multi-course menus, on which the soup always comes first, and that’s why there’s a knife and fork in front of me. But I just smiled politely and admitted that I was.

The main course, blinchiki, turned out to be three quite tasty minced chicken pancakes and a pot of sour cream – good student food, I thought. In my student days, though, it would probably have come with rice and chips, or at least a sprig of watercress.

And so to the pudding which was the undoubted culinary highlight – maconi (a hard-set yoghurt) with walnut. Thus came to an end a meal which, after all, had come to only £37, including a perfectly drinkable glass of Georgian red wine: by local standards, is probably quite a bargain.

And so, with a small step, I arrived back into the sunshine of contemporary Mayfair. But, with that step, it felt like I’d travelled a thousand miles, and advanced a couple of decades too.

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