In this industry, making it this far is somewhat of a miracle considering the fickleness of diners, the revolving food fads, and ability of a scathing review going viral before the bill has even been paid. This year, kiwi chef Peter Gordon’s The Providores and Tapa Room in Marylebone turns thirteen and I went along to celebrate.
If you’ve been to his Auckland restaurants Bellota, dine by Peter Gordon, or the new Sugar Club, you know the food will be top notch – but here are 13 other reasons why you should stop by:
1. The atmosphere is welcoming, whatever your mood. Stop in for a casual drink and nibble downstairs in the Tapa Room, or linger longer and work your way through the tempting dishes on the dinner menu upstairs at The Providores.
2. Look no further if you’re craving a robust Kiwi vino, such as a crisp Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc or a rich Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir. With the largest selection of New Zealand wines in Europe, there will definitely be something to suit your tastes and remind you of home.
3. The tapas-style menu means you can have your cake and eat another… or any other combination of dishes for that matter. Dishes on the dinner menu are not split into starters or mains; you choose how many courses you’re keen to indulge in and pick the dishes. A perfect way of eating for those of us with who suffer from diner’s remorse and food envy.
4. The staff know their stuff. Can’t decide between the Crab and Coconut Laksa or the Freekeh Salad to go with the Lamb Loin; don’t know which wine to pair with it? Just ask. I found the well-dressed waitrons to be friendly and knowledgeable, but not at all pretentious — a combination we all know can be elusive.
5. The menu consists of interesting dishes that successfully draw on influences from Asia and the Middle East. Too often, we see restaurants attempting fusion but failing miserably, the result being more like two night’s leftovers in the same container for a sad office lunch.
6. The menu also celebrates the tried and tested. Some dishes are still going strong after 13 years, and probably will be for another decade.
7. The Seared Yellowfin Tuna on papaya, carrot, cucumber and coriander salad. I’m usually a sucker for a bit of raw fish and tangy salad, but I still have to say this was probably my favourite dish of the night. Fresh, delicate, zesty- delicious.
8. The twice cooked Pork Belly on spiced butternut filled Dosa. My sticky pork belly just melted and the dosa was light and crisp — the flavours might have been bold, but I could have done with more.
9. The Beef Pesto, a Sugar Club classic. It was as simple and comforting, as the name suggests, but much more sophisticated than your average steak joint offering.
10. If you’re in the neighbourhood during the day, stop by for the equally appetising brunch menu. I have got my eye on the luscious sounding French Toast stuffed with bananas, or maybe I’ll branch out a little and try the Sweetcorn and Blueberry Fritters. It you don’t manage to nap a table downstairs, remember you can always book one upstairs. And if that still doesn’t work, try their sister restaurant Kopapa in Covent Garden.
11. Located in the lovely Marylebone village, the short walk from manic Oxford St is worth it when you stroll into this refined oasis. I’ve pencilled in a spot of (window) shopping along the high street before stopping for some refreshments in the Tapa Room.
12. If you’re lucky, they might be serving Crosstown Doughnuts. With flavours like lemon curd and strawberry, or peanut butter and currant, they’re not your average Krispy Kreme. If you’re unlucky and they’e gone, you could always stalk Dorothy the doughnut truck.
13. And lucky last — it’s survived this long in a rather saturated, overfed, fiercely competitive market… It must be a bit of alright.
You should know- I dined as a guest of The Providores and Tapa Room.