These are trying times for London’s restaurants. “Breaking even is the new ‘successful’,” says a friend of ours who runs two apparently thriving dining rooms in East London. Meanwhile, Brexit looks like supplanting the status quo of highly trained continental staff (who see hospitality as a career) with urchins from the provinces. We are frequently reminded of a visit to a borderline fancy establishment somewhere near Sherwood Forest where we asked for a glass of port and our waitron looked nonplussed, walked away, came back and then asked: “Is that like … WKD!?” And yet London’s restaurants continue to look amazing.
See the recent opening of Ollie Dabbous’ multi-squillion pound dining room Hide. And the likes of M Threadneedle Street, which opened four years ago and continues to pack in the City crowd, having picked up Harpers Awards when it opened for best new restaurant of the year and ‘best sommelier’.
M Threadneedle Street feels a lot like an upmarket hotel restaurant – right down to the “secret” bar to the right, complete with pool tables, and very designed light fittings. This is also, apparently, home to London’s first “Himalayan salt chamber”, used to age the fanciest steaks from various corners of the globe, while the most popular order for post-Bank of England testosterone splurges is the International Steak Board: A whole kilo of dead cow for £120, including USDA prime fillet, Argentinian rump, French hanger, Botswana rib-eye and Blackmore skirt (throw in some Kobe for another hundred quid).
Service is excellent at M Threadneedle Street, largely thanks to the pan-European staff of course, and the room constantly buzzes with the sense of a good time being had. When we visited recently, we were fascinated by a corner of the dining room being taken up by the filming of one of those “first date” TV shows. A millennial at the next table informed us that the chap had been on something called Love Island, but there was no clue to who she was – although her silver-grey flowing “hair” was a thing of wonderment. Like those Apple-made white sticky-out wireless headphones, it should be shoved in a time capsule as the most 2018 thing imaginable.
There’s a lot to like about M Threadneedle Street, but the thing we really love is the toilets. The Neorest SE is one of the fanciest electronic Japanese Toto toilets on the market. It’s one that raises the seat for you as you approach, lest you find touching a toilet seat a kind of degeneracy. And, of course, its numerous water jets do away with the need for any kind of toilet paper.
That a restaurant in London will still invest in such progressive and civilised things at the same time as Brexit threatens to send us back to the dark days of the Berni Inn should be cause for celebration.
God is in the details. And the toilet. C
M Threadneedle Street, 2-3, 60 Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8HP
020-3327 7770; mrestaurants.co.uk