We arrive in the pouring rain at London’s Old Street Silicon Roundabout – the centre of the Tech Hub that’s meant to rival California with lots of spacey new buildings.
The M by Montcalm Hotel is one of those, thrusting skywards, a few minutes’ walk away. There’s a cocktail bar on the ground floor and a bakery serving snacks, with Plate Restaurant on the first. Chef Arnaud Stevens, whose pedigree includes Sixtyone and The Gherkin, is in charge of the food here.
Ambience at Plate Restaurant
Design is modern brash with lots of shiny surfaces and the restaurant is split into two halves by the staircase that climbs up from the bar below. At the rear is the open kitchen with tables spaced generously. The front has a big expanse of plate glass, giving a view of Moorfield’s eye hospital and Old Street roundabout. The best seat in the house is definitely by the window where you can watch the bright lights of Shoreditch come and go, as day turns into night.
Food and drink
It’s seems a shame to ignore the skills of the cocktail bar’s mixologist so my companion opts for the Bloody Peach, a combination of peach puree, lemon juice and sugar syrup with blackberries and mint on top. I go for a Too dirty to be a Martini which contains a large olive, with a sprig of Rosemary attached, and suddenly we’re both in a better mood.
Things improve further when the three piece bread flight arrives. As we subsequently find out, everything served is made on the premises and the sourdough, brioche and marmite bread all come from their own artisan bakery. They’re accompanied by a trio of butters – balsamic, caramelised shallot and whipped and we argue about which is for which.
Mercifully the menu is short, always a good sign, and we peer at the dishes coming out of the kitchen to spot the best option. I go for the classic salmon gradvalax with baby beetroot, lemon cream and marmite & oat crumb, making for a delightful display on the plate.
There’s a nice mix of texture, and I particularly like the marmite crumb. We also share a slow cooked piece of Cornish mackerel with celeriac & crab remoulade, perfectly complementing the strong taste of the fish.
For mains, there’s a traditional battered cod and chips but, far more interesting is the
salted Atlantic cod with cauliflower & meadowsweet puree, roasted cauliflower, dill pesto. It’s quite a small chunk of fish with crispy skin, resting on the dill pesto, accompanied by florets of cauliflower with the puree unusually flavoured with meadowsweet. The fish is slightly dry but the cauliflower works well.
My companion has the dry aged 8oz sirloin steak, with peppercorn sauce, succulent and perfectly cooked medium. What more to say than it’s a steak, but a pretty good one, full of flavour. We share a plate of fries, which we suspect could be frozen, but the buttered cabbage is definitely fresh.
The desserts don’t disappoint though. Chocolate caramel fondant with cardamom ice cream and salted almond praline oozes flavour. Strawberry & cream mille-feuille with strawberry and Thai basil sorbet is a good match, although we’re not sure about the Szechuan pepper.
Throughout our meal, I’ve been impressed by the quiet efficiency of Chef Josh Dawson and his brigade in the kitchen. Service is also nicely understated without being lax. The menu advertises the food as great British produce, amazing flavours, simply put together. On the evidence of my visit, I can’t disagree and it’s also good value for this part of town.