SixtyOne: Modern British Cuisine With a French Flourish

By Paul Joseph

Nestled on the ground floor of The Montcalm hotel in the Marylebone district of Central London, SixtyOne has been receiving widespread praise since opening in late 2013.

Under the stewardship of patron chef Arnaud Stevens, the restaurant’s serving of modern British fare with a French twist made an instant impact on London’s fine dining scene and its reputation has continued to climb ever since.

It was therefore with hopeful expectations that we visited SixtyOne, whose location puts it into direct competition with an increasing number of notable eateries. But, as we were to discover, SixtyOne has its own distinct identity and is not afraid to express it.

Part of the well-established Searcy’s group of restaurants and bars, the first impression on entering SixtyOne is of its understated but elegant décor, featuring a cream and chocolate colour scheme and well-spaced tables. While so many hotel restaurants fall into the category of ‘nondescript’, SixtyOne avoids such a fate through tasteful touches such as the large tubular copper lights hanging above each table.

Crucially to SixtyOne’s success, this sense of character also carries over to our meal, which captivates us with its bold flavours and pristine presentation, each course a masterclass in delicacy, creativity and fun.

Standout dishes include an exquisite starter of slow cooked rabbit served with pistachio, the nutty crunch of the pistachio contrasting pleasingly with the tenderised game. For mains, a braised beef shoulder with onion emulsion and sea vegetables was cooked to perfection, the quality of the meat evident in its layers of intense flavour.

Slow cooked sea bream with carrots, walnuts and grapefruit was another highlight, the freshness of the fish shining through, with the citrusy acidity of the grapefruit and textural contrast of the nuts proving excellent accompaniments.

The dessert highlight was unquestionably a Braeburn apple with almond ice cream and speculoos, a playful twist on a classic French tarte tatin, with the addition of the delicious spiced shortcrust biscuit always a winner. My companion’s salted caramel with chocolate tart and mashmallow came a close second.

Wines were well chosen by our sommelier throughout, a fruity and spicy Pinot Noir from the Clos Henri vineyard New Zealand and a juicy and vibrant Chilean Chardonnay thoughtfully selected for our rabbit and fish main courses, respectively.

With its warm and stylish setting backed up by a kitchen that takes top class ingredients and turns them into something even better, SixtyOne is a superb addition to London’s restaurant landscape and is surely destined for even greater acclaim.

By Paul Joseph