There's No Such Thing As Perfection, But Mortimer House Kitchen Comes Very Close
There's something cinematic about Mortimer House Kitchen. Behind the glass façade awaits an intimate art deco room, redolent of a set from The Great Gatsby; one of Gatsby’s more modest-sized parlours, perhaps. A swanky bar runs the length of the room, plush blue rugs soften herringbone parquet floors, grand banquettes are paired with (very) comfortable occasional chairs, and a chic, open kitchen solicits hungry eyes. One word comes to mind: cool.
Reclining in our seats — did we mention how comfortable they are? — a wave of tranquility washes over us. The ambient lighting and dulcet notes from some faint background music have a quasi-sedative effect on us; we could quite happily drift off. But our waiter is quick to offer a drink to rouse us. Cheers.
The one-page menu is divided into small, medium and large plates, which we translate as entrées (because no one says ‘starters’ here), modest and large mains. We start with the Sicilian red prawns ceviche and smoked aubergine. A basket of rustic bread and hummus make for a very pleasurable wait. And a brief wait too; the small plates arrive within minutes.
Decorated with pomegranate seeds and watercress, the Sicilian prawns are bursts of colour and flavour. The smoked aubergine is similarly flavoursome, with the acidity from the Greek yoghurt cutting through the smokiness of the vegetable.
For our medium plate, our waiter recommends the buffalo ricotta ravioli. As the dish is served, our initial observation is not the grated black truffle garnish, it’s the nauseating smell; a rich, buttery aroma infused with the heavy scent of chlorine. We exchange concerned looks. Taking a deep breath (and blocking our nostrils), we are pleasantly surprised: the ravioli is creamy and decadent, and makes a fleeting appearance on our plates.
Feeling rather full, but nonetheless gluttonous, we proceed with the large plates: charcoal grilled rib eye and shakshuka. Despite our limited digestive capacities, we take a decent stab at the generous and succulent steak. The side of ketchup is a disappointment — we had hoped for peppercorn sauce — but the chef does offer us some gravy instead.
The shakshuka is delicious: the bed of Mediterranean veg oozes with flavour, enriched by the gooey egg yolk. Unfortunately, only one of the egg yolks is runny, the other is like chewing dry toast. Perhaps the chef is trying to cater for all egg yolk preferences. The side of wild broccoli has a a nice crunch to it, but is surprisingly rich; is broccoli still healthy if it’s coated in butter?
Pudding seems like an inconceivable feat at this stage, but we are told that the cheese board is a manageable final course. Greed triumphs sense.
Waddling home, bellies bulging, we swear we will never eat again. Until the next day, when we decide when we are going to go back to Mortimer House Kitchen.
Mortimer House Kitchen, 37-41 Mortimer Street, Fitzrovia, W1T3JH.
Last Updated 12 December 2017