Put a celebrity chef’s name to something and you’re bound to create a buzz, that’s the world we live in. So obviously we got excited about Marco Pierre White bringing his New York Italian restaurant brand to Leicester, but would it live up to the hype?
The restaurant is situated in the Mercure, which we all know as The Grand Hotel on Granby Street. The hotel has undergone a great refurbishment and it’s wonderful to see it back to its former glory. With the hotel bar designed to fit in with the restaurant it’s a lovely area to sit and have a drink before dinner, so arrive early.
The restaurant is tucked away at the back of the hotel, walls covered in pictures of Marco at work in the kitchen and, of course, Marco’s black & white chair is on show for you to take a photo in!
But on to the food…
First of all, the prices aren’t that bad. Don’t be put off before you’ve even checked it out. For starters we sampled the Goat’s Cheese Arrancini and the Buffalo Mozzarella, Tomato & Basil, which both came in at around £6. Both starters came as a good portion, with the Goats’s Cheese Arrancini offering 3 risotto balls alongside the tomato & basil salsa. Cooked just right, the risotto balls were crisp on the outside with the taste of goat’s cheese coming as soon as you bit into them, without being too overpowering. The Buffalo Mozzarella was presented on a long platter, with large slices of both cheese and tomato drizzled with pesto, offering a light and fresh starter option that’s perfect as we head into summer.
If you’re anything like us you’ll be deliberating over the menu choices for far too long. There are choices of pasta, pizza, steaks, burgers, fish and more. All of the mains are reasonably priced with Penne Meatballs and Calzone pizza both costing £11.50, it’s only when you head towards the steaks that the prices start to rise with a 10z Rib Eye or Sirloin costing £25.50.
We opted for the New York Rack of Ribs with BBQ sauce and the Yellowfin Tuna Steak. Now, we didn’t order the tuna as a test, but I would like to state that it’s been a very long time since I ordered a rare tuna steak and it’s come out cooked how I like it. So you can imagine my delight when I cut into it and saw the dark pink middle throughout, it was cooked perfectly. The tuna came with spinach, putanesca sauce and new potatoes and the portion size with ample. The putanesca sauce, made up of tomatoes, garlic and olives complemented the tuna and added a great flavour to the dish. Plus we felt like we’d made a healthy choice, which is always nice and means we were allowed to have dessert! Perhaps less healthy was the New York Rack of Ribs, but who cares about healthy when your dinner looks like this…
A huge portion of meaty ribs came served with fries and crunchy slaw. The right level of BBQ sauce so as not to overpower the ribs was smothered on top, whilst the rest came in a jug on the side for you to pour and add to your liking. Obviously we had to try one of the sides, so we went for the onion rings, which now come throroughly recommended from us. They were light and the batter was almost fluffy, which made such a change to the crunchy, disappointing onion rings that so many place serve. Plus you get loads, which is always nice!
“I’m so full”
“Oh, are you not going to have any pudding?”
“Well, no, obviously I’ll still have some cheesecake!”
So onto dessert it was. To save any confusion, all of the desserts are priced at £5.95. Given the name of the restaurant, Marco’s New York Italian, then trying the New York Cheesecake was a must, and we also went for the Melting Chocolate Truffle Cake. The cheesekcake came with forest berries to complement the creamy filling and along with the crunchy base it was a great end to the meal. The real star was the Melting Chocolate truffle Cake though. I was expecting a chocolate fudge cake or something, but how wrong I was. I think the description I used at the time was “It’s like when you make a chocolate tart and melt chocolate with cream and butter and then leave it to set. It’s like that, just before it’s properly set, and it’s still warm, and melting.” What you can take from that description is that it was amazing, a half melting, warm, chocolate ganache, with vanilla ice cream. Go and order it immediately.
The staff were all incredibly polite and welcoming. The service was swift and helpful, although it was quite quiet in the restaurant on a Tuesday evening. We’ve been told that weekends have been booking up quickly though.
Whilst we know we don’t have Marco in the kitchen and these celebrity chef brands are more of a franchise opportunity these days, it’s still lovely to have something like this in the city and we couldn’t fault the food on the night. The great thing about the menu and the restaurant is that it will be just as well suited to a family staying at the hotel, to a business dinner, and to a cosy couple’s night out.
With so many new places opening up near to Highcross it’s nice that Marco’s is hopefully going to bring some renewed energy to the Granby Street area of town.
Cool As Leicester rating 9/10
Now’s your chance to get down there and try that amazing melting chocolate dessert for yourself! We’ve got a meal for 2 to give away to one lucky winner and you can enter via Twitter or email.
All you need to do is make sure you’re following both @coolasleicester and @marcosleicester and tweet “RT @coolasleicester We gave @MarcosLeicester 9/10. Follow them and RT to be in our comp to win a meal for 2 goo.gl/zddbRO.”
Or you can enter via email by sending your name and contact details to [email protected] with the subject line “Marco’s Leicester”.
The closing date is midday on Tuesday 12 May. Good luck!
Marco’s Italian is at Mercure Hotel on Granby Street, Leicester. The full menu and info can be found on their website.