I was invited along to an event at the Marriott hotel in Marble Arch for the opening of a new “concept” restaurant, Lanes of London.
It’s a beautiful setting and the staff were friendly, reasonably knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The food was surprisingly good considering the concept and the range of cuisines that they covered as a result.
It’s the concept of Lanes of London that I have a bit of a problem with. It’s not even a problem with the concept per se, more with the concept in this particular setting.
They cover four “Lanes” of London which represent different cuisines that our fair city has become famous for. So Brick Lane represents Indian food, Kingsland Road represents Vietnamese, or seemingly more generic “South East Asian” food, Edgware Road is Lebanese and Portobello Road is classic British.
So first of all, I realise three out of the four “Lanes” are actually “Roads” but I’m willing to let that slide, linking Portobello with British food is also pushing it a bit I guess but again, let’s leave pettiness out of things.
The real problem is that having all these cuisines and serving in small tapas-esque sharing plates means that depending on your group you can end up with a very strange selection of mis-matching dishes. This I think would be fine in a relaxed (I’m thinking Hackney) hipster place where the novelty would make things amusing, here it just feels a bit odd in posh surroundings and with the style that Lanes of London is going for.
Anyway, in no particular order, let me take you through some of the Lanes of London items we sampled this evening using press photos provided and starting with a cocktail.
The Arack Panch was a rice wine based cocktail from Sri Lanka with pomegranate seeds and lime. It was a little sweet but not at all bad.
The Beef Brisket sliders served with bone marrow as a topping were probably the highlight, with tender patties we could have carried on eating these all night.
I found the butter chicken a little bland and the roti that came with it a bit greasy but it was popular with others at the table so maybe I just like it hot.
The Hung Que sour was an alternative take on the whiskey sour with added lemongrass. It wasn’t that dissimilar to an average whiskey sour was our verdict.
These are the Jammy Dodgers – served to us in a Lanes of London metal box to take away and a cake rather than the biscuit you may be used to. Incredibly sweet but quite a treat.
The Kafta Meshwi were Lebanese meats with a babaganoush dip, pretty good if a bit fatty.
The Lamb Cutlets with greens were tasty although not really enough to share and very much on the bone.
The interior of the Lanes of London restaurant is done out stylishly although having to walk through the reception of the hotel and down two flights of stairs to the toilets was a bit of a mood killer.
The pumpkin salad didn’t last long but was kind of inoffensive and forgettable to be honest.
Another favourite of mine, perhaps because it took me back to Indian street food was the smashed up samosa Chaat, the pastry snack mixed with a tangy tamarindy sauce and chickpeas, straight off the stalls of Mumbai.
I’m a massive fan of a gourmet Scotched Egg, I attended a workshop on making these way back in the day, and this was an OK rendition but I thought the yolk could have been more runny and the breadcrumbs slightly less crisp. They were perhaps a little overcooked.
So, Lanes of London, friendly staff, weird concept, decent food, wrong setting would be my summary.