This swanky pan-Asian restaurant and cocktail bar adheres to the memory of the Great Fire of London, which actually broke out on the same street back in 1666. The sleek, cosy interiors feature glowing copper, shining candles and flashes of orange, the inventive menu brings the heat, and the cocktails are designed to set imaginations alight. We headed to the City to find out why MBER is the new place to be…
Just a short stroll from Monument station, MBER can be found at 1a Pudding Lane in the heart of the City. Keep an eye out for a slick black and gold ‘MBER’ sign, as the venue itself is quite inconspicuous, with just a thin lobby entrance leading down to the trendy basement bar and restaurant.
Sexy and dimly-lit, the restaurant has a whiskey bar look and feel, with dark, plush furniture, sociable high table seating and pendant lighting. We were offered a quiet table near the bar, so we could watch the theatrics of cocktail making while we scanned over the menu. Luckily we didn’t spend too long pondering; MBER offers delicious sharing menus, featuring all their favourites, inspired by elements of Vietnamese, Singaporean and Thai dishes. We went for a sharing menu plus a few dishes from the a la carte menu.
The speciality cocktail list is much more varied, with ‘light’, ‘medium’ or ‘dark’ options, from light tea-infused sake to warming clove-infused Hennessy Cognac. We opted for a BK Highball and a Dark Treat; the former was fruity and refreshing, with Tanqueray gin, a light beetroot syrup, spiced liqueur and a sharp tonic, while the latter was a sweet blend of marshmallow-infused Belvedere, Cointreau black tea liqueur, lemon juice and orange bitters served in a Japanese tea cup. Both excellent.
Tapas-style eating is fantastic because a) it’s very social and b) it means you can try a bit of everything - which is ideal when the menu is this delicious. We started with a lobster and crabmeat martini, which was presented in an elegant martini glass for added Instagrammability. The crab meat was delicate and meaty and the fresh lobster had been shredded and poured over the most delicious wasabi and gin sorbet, making for a real melt-in-the-mouth sensation. We were still gushing over the sorbet when the next set of dishes arrived: miso grilled aubergine with feta cheese, honey, and pomegranate, ‘Weeping tiger’ fillet beef, a fiery tofu dish and Chorizo and prawn gyoza. The gyoza offered strong, punchy flavours, the beef was exceptionally tender and succulent, and the aubergine a classic dish with a contemporary touch - we particularly like the sweet honey and rosemary glaze and the crispy buckwheat flakes.
The chefs have clearly saved the best until last and we ended our tapas marathon with Vietnamese goat curry, steamed rice and bok choy. The curry was the real star of the show: a rich blend of tender goat meat, fiery chilli, warming coconut and a slight aftertaste of nutmeg. It was a clever combination with the grilled bok choy, which had an inventive rich red wine and ginger flavour.
By the time our friendly waiter had cleared away the last of our dishes, the place was really livening up, with a mix of City suits, glamorous groups and couples on first-dates. I’d recommend booking if you’re planning on eating - which you should - MBER gets busy, and rightfully so.
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