35 New Cavendish Street, Marylebone

June 01, 2016

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.
A MARYLEBONE MEMBERS CLUB WITH A MENU UNDER £20
The Cavendish at 35 New Cavendish Street, Fitzrovia

Despite the average champagne socialist's assertions that the antiquated class system (caste system?) is still very much the oppressor of those who dare to dream, the truth is that we live in a world where social mobility is the wind beneath the wings of the bold and the busty (have you forgotten that display at Grand National? Yes, I'm also trying to). Luxury has become increasingly democratic, as exemplified by head chef Douglas Santi's new 'everything £20 or under' menu, launched yesterday at refined Fitzrovia establishment 35 New Cavendish Street.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

I arrived at 35 New Cavendish Street to a hive of post-worker bee activity that is the buzzing bar area on the ground floor. Having weaved my way through the throng and up the stairs to the dining area, I found myself in a whole new world. Tranquil and refined with views of traditional red-brick Fitzrovia and natural daylight streaming in to soften the classic royal blue upholstery, the feel of the dining area is true to the 'members club nature' of 35 New Cavendish Street. Despite the somewhat regal decor,  the upbeat music subtly creeping in from the bar downstairs reminded one that this members club is far from stuffy - rather, a modern establishment oriented toward a younger, more happening crowd.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

I settled in with a Negroni for a long evening of 19 dishes (nineteen, count 'em - paired with wine, no less) over three courses in three hours.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

My party started with two types of sliders: classic beef, and lobster with avocado tenderly sandwiched between delicate yet substantial buttery brioche buns. The beef and lobster sliders were followed by at least three miniature versions of eggs benedict - with salmon, bacon, and spinach options, sprinkled with chives on teeny-tiny crunchy toast slices with just a hint of garlic. Those three variations of my favourite brunch dish at dinner time was all I needed to know that the All Day Menu lived up to its name.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

The croque monsieur that followed was a contrast to the dainty starters that preceded it. Delicate presentation is forgo-ed (forwent?) for a hearty behemoth of cheese, ham, and toast served on a wooden cheese board. Comfort food at its best.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

By this point I had started to blur the line between starters and mains. The starters that followed were light and lean yet could be easily upsized to main courses, which is only a good thing for the health-conscious and/or to those who favour clean-eating with simple dishes that highlight quality ingredients. The tuna tartar with avocado is fresh, with chilli giving the fish a kick of flavour. 

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Prawns tabouleh with quinoa was surprisingly hearty, no doubt in part to the generous portion of king prawns. My favourite was by far the Cavendish beef tartar - as a steak tartare enthusiast, I'm used to sweet and tart flavours from onions cutting through the meat, but the twist of horseradish was an pleasant surprise that added a smoky dimension that took a light dish and made it unexpectedly rich.  

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.
The first two mains made their debut: artichoke salad on a bed of parmesan crust and ale breaded smoked haddock with potato cream and peas. While I am neither a fan of artichokes nor cooked fish in general (with the exception of black cod) and my food preferences limited me to a ginger nibble followed by a 'I still don't get it', the satisfied murmurs coming from my table spoke for the quality of these two dishes.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

What I do get though, is steak. A thick, juicy rib eye with just the right amount of marbling, lovingly sourced from Aubrey Allen (the Queen's butcher), cooked to tender pink perfection and accompanied by Béarnaise sauce and triple cooked chips.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

SIGNATURE DISH: 100 LAYER LASAGNE
WHEN DELICATE MEETS DECADENT

The star dish of the evening for me, and I think I can speak for everyone at the table, was new head chef Douglas Santi's 100 Layers Lasagne. 25 layers of pasta, 25 layers of bechamel, 25 layers of meat, and 25 layers of parmesan painstakingly arranged to precision, giving the l00 Layer Lasagne the appearance of my favourite Malaysian cake 'kuih lapis'. It was unlike any lasagne I've had, with bechamel so fluffy and airy it had an almost cloud-like texture about it. Every ingredient is layered so carefully as to be delicate, giving the 100 Layer Lasagne an imperceptibly ethereal quality yet all the elements met to deliver a dish whose many, many layers packs a punch with alternating flavours and textures.

Curiously, the 100 Layer Lasagne reminded me of tiramisu - what with the bechamel's impossibly melt-in-your-mouth soft texture not unlike that of mascarpone. If you're a fan of pleasant culinary surprises, I'd highly recommend the 100 Layer Lasagne to challenge your expectations of this traditionally dense Italian dish.


SAY CHEESE

By the time the cheese platter arrived - a heaving smorgasbord laden high with crackers, quince, and a selection of what is surely nature's greatest contribution to humanity - I could only respond to that decadent display with an exclamation of "Putain de fromage!"


Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

I have never and can never be a wine drinker thanks to my allergies, so I quote Townfish: "They have a very decent range of mid-level wines too to be paired with their food. The Tormaresca Chardonnay is golden and fruity and a great representation of wine from the Puglia region, whilst the Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Rita, Maipo has curiously strong notes of leather and tobacco which went exceedingly well with the rib-eye steak that we tried that was beautifully cooked sous-vide and then on a josper grill to give it a smoky taste."

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.

Democratised dining at 35 New Cavendish Street, a Marylebone private members club with a new menu where everything is £20 and under.
By the time the pudding platter made its appearance, suffice to say I was absolutely stuffed and so sadly only managed one of each delicious treat on display. Between the exceptional lemon meringues and the refreshingly light yet sweet glazed raspberries and strawberries I found myself fit to burst least of all with 'diner's regret' - that sense of wasted dining opportunity that besets those whose 'eyes are bigger than their stomachs'. Rare indeed is the occasion where I cannot finish a pudding - yet this has been happening more frequently of late as I scale back my portions as summer approaches.


FINAL THOUGHTS

The new menu at 35 New Cavendish is many things - surprising (with its provocative take on classic dishes such as lasagne and beef tartar), diverse (with its All Day Menu offering breakfast staples like eggs benedict alongside hearty dinner fare such as Rib Eye for 2), a juxtaposition of unprententious comfort food (just the way Nan would make it) and delicate cooking that is right at home at a fine-dining restaurant. But most of all, the menu is of exceptional value with nothing over £20. Where else in this upscale London postcode can you enjoy a lobster spaghetti for £20 in a private members club? 35 New Cavendish Street is dining democracy at its finest - accessible luxury and exemplary service for all in a setting usually associated with exclusion. Truly, a case study for the meeting of modernism and tradition...the best of both worlds. Experience it for yourself at the new and improved 35 New Cavendish Street, Fitzrovia W1W.

My meal was complimentary in exchange for this review. 
Thank you 35 New Cavendish for the hospitality, and for challenging my ideas on lasagne and beef tartar!

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