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Restaurant review: Wheeler's Rib Room and Oyster Bar

PUBLISHED: 12:51 30 May 2015

Wheeler's is housed in a gorgeous old Victorian bank

Wheeler's is housed in a gorgeous old Victorian bank

Maureen McLean Photography

Marco Pierre White returns to the London restaurant scene

The steaks are served in classic fashionThe steaks are served in classic fashion

Retired uber-chef and former holder of three Michelin stars Marco Pierre White has returned to the London scene to help resurrect the iconic Wheeler’s restaurant in the city.

Rebranded as Wheeler’s Rib Room and Oyster Bar, the place now features a brand new menu designed by the erstwhile enfant terrible of British cooking, and put into practice by head chef Stephen Smith.

Part of Threadneedle’s Hotel, the building is gorgeous – housed in a old Victorian bank with immensely high ceilings, gigantic windows and elegant furnishings; the place oozes cash from every fixture. The effect is only slightly marred by the massive and slightly cringe-worthy prints of MPW horsing around in the kitchen – looking moody, kissing a young woman, etc.

The menu is pretty approachable, featuring nothing too adventurous and a heavy emphasis on meat and fish.

“The city is lacking Oyster bars, it’s that simple,” says the great chef at the top of the menu, and I couldn’t agree more. Our half dozen rock and native crustaceans were served perfectly alongside a crisp Sancerre.

The crab bisque was thick, rich and bursting with underwater flavour, while the fois gras and duck egg on brioche contrived to be less than the sum of its parts – a bit tasteless and stodgy.

The coq and shrimp curry was a light, korma-like affair with indulgent chunks of chicken and prawn. Tasty enough, it lacked a spicy kick that would have lent it more vigour.

Meanwhile, from the well-populated grill section, we had the fillet with garlic butter – served in classic style with triple-cooked chips, tomatoes and sides of creamed spinach and garlic ‘shrooms.

But despite being tender as the night, the meat lacked flavour and wasn’t quite the treat it should have been.

Which is a good metaphor for the whole meal – in such amazing surroundings and a menu designed by a master, it should have been transcendent, yet the end result was ‘decent’ rather than ‘spectacular’.

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