A modest frontage masks a casual café with an airy dining space serving French classics with a hint of ambition.
This review is taken from the current (2016) edition.
A casual glance at its modest vestibule, would suggest that this is little more than a café. However, further in there’s a sudden opening out into the warm heart of the restaurant. Also, despite its presence in a row of restaurants that specialise in cheap and quick meals for Playhouse patrons, Café Marlayne offers something counterintuitive and unique: a bold menu. Impressive in its range and depth, it suggests a place determined to do a small number of things extremely well. And so it proves. A starter combining smoked mackerel with pears and a Szechuan peppercorn dressing sets the bar high – an unlikely but finely judged combination of textures. Of the main courses, juicy, charred lamb rump with crisp, vanilla-braised chicory is paired with a sharp, herby and garlicky sorrel pesto that cuts right through the richness of the meat. Alternatively, a ribeye steak is accompanied by sweet onions, a softly fiery horseradish sauce and salt-baked walnuts providing a crunchy, buttery counterpoint. We’re back in café land for dessert, but the clementine cake is a citrussy delight.
- High point: Busy and bustling even on weekdays
- Low point: All this excellence doesn't come cheap
- Notable dish: Lamb rump with vanilla-braised chicory and sorrel pesto
- Private dining: 15 (Cafe)
- Provides: Children's portions, Children's high chairs, Wheelchair access, Outdoor tables, Free wi-fi
- Music on stereo: Easy listening
- Capacity: 80
- Largest group: 80
- Open since: 2010
- Number of wines sold by the glass: 10
- House wine: £17 per bottle
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