There’s no finer pleasure than visiting a restaurant during its opening week. It’s never the hustle and bustle of TV restaurant opening night; it’s only on the fantasy Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares that you would launch or relaunch a restaurant and decide to pack the place. Without a TV audience clamouring for cock-ups and catastrophes a great restaurant takes its time to find its feet. We visited the brand new Marco Pierre White Steakhouse at the Indigo Hotel in Glasgow on its second night.
Eat during the first week or so at a restaurant and you are likely to see the place packed not with customers but with new staff falling over themselves to make sure you are happy. You may possibly glimpse the owner or at least the regional director clearing tables while studiously checking staff movements and table settings. And in the kitchen you might find a few more chefs than normal. The first week in a restaurant’s life is like an explosion of light, sight, sounds and smell as everyone inside hopes a new star is being born.
With that added bit of trepidation that one has when reviewing a new restaurant we sat down for a cocktail before dinner. The bar staff keen to use their new smoke machine had a “Smoked Manhattan” as the opening week special. I decided to go for the original version a much truer test of the barkeep’s skills. Beautifully strong and packed with cinnamon it sat perfectly with the spice from the wasabi peas and vegetable chips. So good where the snacks I kind of felt like the Manhattan came for free.
Marco Pierre White’s new Glasgow restaurant fits beautifully into the Indigo Hotel. Its not quite part of the hotel but with a shared foyer and a very open area within the restaurant it is certainly in tune with the Indigo. This close proximity of the restaurant should ensure a seamless transition for hotel residents as well as a special dining experience for those enjoying only the Steakhouse.
As usual we sampled a fish starer. We were keen to taste the crab cakes and the calamari. The crab cakes were slightly more cake than crab and the presentation left a bit to be desired but the calamari had a lovely peppery heat and a tangy caper sauce. I would suggest that the starters are still finding their feet.
Our steaks were fantastic. The “pepper” sauce – throwing off the unnecessary burden of “corn” – was beautiful but the revelation of the evening was the Marmite butter a simply gorgeous creamy beef explosion which sat on top of a meaty, juicy rump steak. The quality and the presentation of a steak is where a steakhouse should be judged and here it certainly scored very highly. That and the wine of course. I only tried one wine and it was a lovely deep Grenache.
Choosing which dessert to go for was the hardest choice of the night. We opted for the Sticky Toffee Pudding and the Box Tree Eton Mess and both were fantastic.
Including a cocktail, a moctail and one glass of wine our three courses came in at under £90. Marco looked pleased. And surly. And pensive. And thoughtful. As you can see Marco quite literally looked on as we ate and judged his menu.
This is a celebrity restaurant after all and no doubt his name will drive people to the door. The food will make them come back.