Nestled on a quiet street off Notting Hill’s Westbourne Grove, Marianne is a fine example of a mini-restaurant. With just 5 tables, it seats a mere 14 diners and is super intimate (without being cramped).
Stepping foot inside, the dining room is concealed behind a tall curtain; pass through this and you’ll enter what for me was a wonderfully tranquil cocoon. Furnished with light pastel colours throughout along with soft lighting, the harmonious decor is immediately calming.
Curtains also shield the windows, giving the restaurant even more of a private feel, nicely closing off your dining experience to passers by on the street.
As i was seated, something i noted immediately was how comfy the chairs were – a bit of a rarity in restaurants these days – and i settled in nice & snugly for the evening.
Marianne is the most intimate restaurant i’ve dined at. Admittedly at the beginning, it was awkwardly quiet in there – i felt as if my speaking in a normal voice was wrong, since the 4 diners on neighbouring tables were being super quiet, speaking in hushed tones. Thankfully, the atmosphere did relax after a while with the staff doing a good job of putting you at ease.
Since the venue is so small, front of house really make an effort to get to know you – i would have suspected that i would find this annoying/intrusive, but turns out i didn’t – it was all very natural & just worked. Ultimately, their passion for the restaurant really does shine through, and i liked this.
On this note, service was pretty much flawless throughout the evening, and not stuffy in the slightest. We were helped along nicely with our choice of food & wine, with one waiter recommending this delightful bottle of Sancerre which went down very well indeed.
The kitchen is only just visible by way of a striking letterbox-shaped window, through which you can catch glimpses of the all-female crew at work. I liked the subtleness of this compared with an open-plan kitchen experience, it made for a nice change.
Head chef, Marianne Lumb was a 2009 finalist of BBC’s ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’, & it’s clear why. Our meal was sensational. Each dish arrived beautifully presented, and you could tell was constructed from the freshest of ingredients.
Marianne’s passion for flavour comes across in her food very well and the theme of the meal was really about extracting maximum flavour from the best ingredients. The Heritage tomato consommé was simply incredible & I couldn’t believe the flavour she had packed into it – i shall remember that taste in my mouth for a long time to come. This is modern fine dining with a beautiful feminine touch to it.
It was no problem at all that my dinner date was vegetarian – chef created a lovely main meal which importantly, didn’t lack in substance as some vegetarian main dishes can in fine-dining restaurants (we have been to places where they’ll basically give you a plate of nicely cooked simple vegetables disguised into something which appears more grand than just that).
The absolutely fantastic and very memorable soufflé…
And just when we were wishing the meal hadn’t come to an end, these light-as-air little beauties arrived…
The entire meal felt so personal, as if we were sat in a private kitchen or at the chef’s table – many other London venues fail to achieve this dimension to their service. As for the food, i thoroughly enjoyed every outstanding ounce from start to finish – this is for sure a true foodie haven. Marianne would make a lovely venue for a date or an anniversary meal.
As you can imagine given Marianne’s size, securing a reservation can prove difficult, so be prepared for a 2 month wait (at least). Furthermore, the experience isn’t cheap – the 3 course prix fixe menu is £55 per person, the 4 course is £65, whilst a 6 course tasting menu will set you back £85 – but for me, the meal was worth every penny.
Dips Bites: As far as i’m concerned, this is one of the best restaurants in London and i’d return in a flash. The personal experience Marianne delivers is second to none, and combined with the top-notch service and brilliantly executed dishes, this is fine dining at the top of its game. I cannot recommend this Notting Hill gem enough; it was one of my best meals of 2014 and no doubt a must-try in London.
104a Chepstow Road, W2 5QS (Closed on Mondays)