I couldn’t have chosen a better day weather wise to try lunch at The Magazine Restaurant in the Serpentine Galleries. I haven’t been round Hyde Park in a while, so while the sun was shining, a gentle stroll through from Lancaster Gate to the Galleries and finally The Magazine Restaurant.
My interest in The Magazine Restaurant was two-fold: the food of course which is by Oliver Lange, but also the architecture, a Zaha Hadid creation. But as you can see from the image above, how could you not be interested in visiting whether you like the architecture or the food.
Arriving earlier than the reservation time, I had the opportunity to look around on the outside of the restaurant which is “attached” to the side of the 200 year old gun powder store, my thoughts of this I put separately in my photography & design blog.
I had a quick look at the lunch menu online prior to my arrival, and was glad to have a friend with me to share the experience. For me the enjoyment of a meal has many parts: the food of course plays a central role, but the atmosphere, service and friendliness of the staff plays a big part too – I can definitely vouch for the enthusiasm of the staff.
We had a choice of two areas to seat ourselves for lunch and I opted for a table more to the side so that I could appreciate the view of the whole room. None of the tables were regular in shape, so as we were two for lunch it was nice to be seated with some room to spare.
We settled to try the Hamachi Sashimi Ceviche Style and the Spicy Beef Salad, Green Papaya and Crispy Shallots for our starters, followed by Miso Cod, Baby Spinach and Teriyaki Shitake Mushroom, and Donburi, Pork Belly, 1 hour duck egg as our mains. We just had to try the latter after inquiring after this 1 hour duck egg – the egg is cooked at low heat for an hour and apparently is still runny.
The menu options were heavily Japanese influenced, and though the sushi sounded interesting, I just couldn’t bring myself to try it having experienced sushi served skilfully in many Japanese Restaurants. I prefer not to read too much background about the chef prior to trying his cuisine, as I believe there is always a certain influence when one does. So totally ignorant, my friend and I settled to wait for our orders to arrive over a some cold sake; the sparkling sake would have been so interesting to try but neither of us were great drinkers, so an entire bottle was just not possible for us.
Rather a traditionalist in sake drinking, I found adjusting to the sake presented to me in a wine glass a little difficult to get use to. I had ordered a carafe, so when the whole carafe was poured into my glass like wine, I contained myself from objecting and tried to go with the flow. Miniature Alvar Aalto vases with a single flow adorned the tables, the service also curvaceous matched the design of the restaurant well – we had to ask, like most people did, if Zaha Hadid also designed these especially, since she designed the tables that they used – all very designer orientated.
Back to food: I can definitely say that the Hamachi was something quite special. The sashimi melted in your mouth, smooth and creamy. There was a lot of flavours on in the dish as you can see from the image. I would say the only thing that did not work for me is the crunchy texture of the ? which didn’t seem to blend well with the rest. The spicy beef was good, the flavours here blended extremely well with the texture, perhaps a little too well. I would have preferred if one of the flavours were more prominent, perhaps the chilli slightly spicier?
The mains were impressively presented. Again a full range of flavours. My pork belly donburi certainly stole the show! Yes the 1 hour duck egg was still runny. But because of the strong flavour I found the dish quite “heavy” and rich after a while – I think I would have preferred less sauce with the belly pork, or perhaps with extra sauce on the side for those who want more. I suppose being oriental, I expected to have more taste of plain rice to balance out the richness.
And of our glass of cold sake… we still had that throughout our meal, it actually helped with the digestion, my usual solution when I feel full, “a little spirits goes a long way”!
And dessert? We were full but just had to try! So sharing the “Chocolate, Caramel, Peanuts” which one of the waiters expressed his disappointment that we had to share I told him we just couldn’t otherwise. Luckily we shared as well as the dessert was lovely! Chocolate and rich and ever so decadent to finish out lunch off with. A plate each would have really been too much.
We appeased our tummies with some fresh mint tea after, and we also convinced ourselves that our gentle walk after will help counter balance the lunch that we just had.
The Magazine Restaurant
West Carriage Drive
London W2 2AR
Tel: 020 7298 7552