Shopping on London’s Oxford Street is a draining experience at the best of times, and the area’s restaurants and cafes tend to be either identikit chains or absolutely packed (or both) so finding an independent, quiet venue for lunch is an absolute godsend. That’s why I was so pleased to stumble upon Verru during my most recent shopping trip, and to share my new found knowledge by writing this restaurant review. Tucked away a few hundred metres up Marylebone Lane, this small Scandinavian restaurant with an Estonian chef offers an excellent value lunch menu at £12.95 for two courses. Stepping into the restaurant is like entering a haven of calm after the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. The understated elegance of the décor and hushed tones of other diners’ conversations is instantly relaxing.
While we perused the menu, my dining partner and I enjoyed slices of deliciously fresh, springy sourdough bread shot through with crispy pieces of sweetcorn, which we spread with creamy butter that was prettily presented on a small slate slab. To start, I chose the “Perfect Skandi Soup” – a cold soup made from cucumbers, sorrel and soured cream, this was a rather pretty shade of mint green and was peppered with tiny slices of what I initially thought was miniature purple celery. I was informed by our waiter that this was actually beetroot, though it was unlike any beetroot I had ever tasted before. It was slightly spicy and had a pleasant crunch that contrasted brilliantly with the smooth, creamy texture of the wonderfully refreshing soup. My dining partner’s Estonian fish cake was beautifully presented and had an intensely smoky flavour, tempered by the creamy herbiness of the accompanying sorrel tartare sauce.
For main course, neither of us was able to resist the pan fried fillet of black bream with roasted Jersey Royals and a Scandinavian take on salsa verde. We weren’t disappointed – the portion of fish was extremely generous and each individual fillet was cooked to perfection with a delicate flavour, firm but yielding texture and lightly crisped skin. There were fewer potatoes, but these too were excellently done, and the salsa, which I guessed was made with liberal quantities of finely diced pickled cucumbers, brought a delightful tang of acidity to the plate.
At lunch on a scorchingly hot day, my dining partner and I were content to drink the iced tap water that was served in elegant an glass carafe and regularly replenished by our waiter, but Verru’s wine list is impressively broad, with a good selection of entry level reds and whites available both by the glass and by the carafe. Service was efficient and unobtrusive, yet friendly, and the total bill came to just under £15 per head once service was added on. For a relaxing break from the shops, I doubt you could do better than Verru’s set lunch menu and am very happy to conclude my review by giving Verru a full five Forks-Up. Now I just need to plan when I can go back for dinner to try out their full offering…
Verru 69 Marylebone Lane London W1H 2PU www.verru.co.uk 020 7935 0858