Marco Pierre White restaurants - hell's kitchen or heaven on a plate?
There’s something captivating about pure genius that can make whichever field it is applied to unexpectedly engaging, enthralling, enrapturing. Take snooker as a perfect example: often slow and dull, and yet when Ronnie O’Sullivan is playing (largely regarded as the most talented player ever to pick up a cue) the game / ‘sport’ is transformed because suddenly we are witnessing the unimaginable andextraordinary delivered with ease. It is that combination of incredible feats being undertaken seemingly at leisure that baffles the spectator; to know that even after a lifetime of practice they would not be able to achieve what they are seeing.
The foreword to White Heat captures this sense of being brought into the world of a genius (he was at the time the youngest chef ever to earn three Michelin stars) and places you in the original hell’s kitchen where even the infamous Gordon Ramsey was schooled by the original badboy chef that was Marco Pierre White(MPW). The epilogue features a fitting tribute by some of today’s best known chefs as to how inspirational MPW and his cookbook White Heat were in transforming the culinary scene in the UK for good (both literally and temporally). The passion for cooking that MPW espoused when writing all those years ago is so raw and infectious that you will soon be trying your best attempt at recreating the dishes described in the rest of the book. But did that passion last? It is surreal for the foreword to feel so current whilst knowing that it was actually written 25 years ago and MPW, as always, has the final word when he reflects on what he said back then.
What about the food itself? Complicated but well worth it! You do need the time, ingredients, equipment and appetite (metaphorical! – if you are hungry then you had better be prepared to wait a couple of hours) to prepare these dishes and expect to have a few delicious failures along the way. But get a few of them under your belt and expect to have no end of friends and family wanting a seat around the dinner party table. Coincidentally an invite to MPW’s dinner party is unfortunately the only way you are going to have him cook for you seeing as he retired from the professional kitchen at the ripe old age of 38.
Fortunately he only moved to the other side of the serving hatch to cook up prolific success a restauranteur. As well as having two flagship Steakhouse restaurants in London, Marco has a franchise of ‘New York Italian’s and ‘Steakhouse Bar & Grill’s to be found in most major cities of the UK, as well as a further two restaurants in Ireland. We had the pleasure of visiting the Leicester branch of MWP’s New York Italian located in the city centre at the Mercure Hotel. The restaurant features Marco’s Italian heritage whilst adding that New York twist that combines the extravagance of USA with the rustic flavours of the Mediterranean.
The menu features Italian classics such as Spaghetti di Pomodoro and Penne Bolognaise alongside hearty American dishes like Hickory Smoked Baby Back Ribs and steaks such as the New Orleans Cajun Steak. What is guaranteed is a menu that has been crafted by a culinary genius and tastes every bit as good as it sounds.
Our verdict: 5 (Michelin) stars
MPW Restaurants can be found across the UK: www.mpwrestaurants.co.uk/restaurants/