Posted on Wednesday, 2nd March 2011
I came to hear of Verru through K, an Estonian-born Russian friend of mine. The restaurant only opened a few months ago and boasts of an Estonian chef, hence the name Verru which is a play on the word Võru, the name of a town and county in Southern Estonia. Chef Andrei Lesment’s French training is evident. The restaurant’s website talks of Baltic flavours, but Verru’s menu reads more French with hints of Baltic influences thrown in.
Situated on Marylebone Lane, right near Le Cordon Bleu, the restaurant is small with an awkward layout. Nevertheless, it still manages to dish up an intimate and cosy charm. K tells me the look is very Estonian. There are leather seats, brickwork and distressed wood walls.
A very good starter of roasted quail (£7.50) was nicely cooked and moist. It came with a flavoursome slice of boudin noir, almonds and some deliciously exotic mandarin syrup. With the richness of the boudin noir, slightly more acidity was called for.
The most Baltic of all the dishes was the old fashioned pork on the bone (£16.50) which had been cooked in its own juices at 120c for 8 hours. The benefits of slow cooking were evident in both the flavoursome, tender meat, and the soft, gelatinous skin. Served with a creamy, comforting stew of braised sauerkraut, smoked sausage and barley, the combination of the two was a winner.
A thick round piece of Icelandic cod (£17.50) had been cooked to a delightful moistness, leaving it with a translucent opaque centre. Accompaniments included braised endive which was well cooked and buttery – but it also gave of a slightly bitter aftertaste that made it slightly unpleasant. Pieces of blood orange on the plate delightfully accentuated the flavour of the fish, and curly kale and Lyonnaise potatoes showed of the chef’s fine French touch. I thought this was a nice plate of food, but not all the components gelled.
It was difficult to detect the praline flavour in a praline mille feuille (£5). But it came with a to-die-for vanilla mousse-like cream which left me wanting more.
The service was pleasant but slightly disorganised. Our aperitifs did not arrive until after our starters, and the timing of the food service was also a little uneven. But despite Andrei’s training, this is not a fine dining venture. Instead, Verru is a small, charming outfit which offers up confident and well executed food at fairly reasonable prices. As such, minor service sins can easily be forgiven.
Food rating: 3.5/5
Service rating: 3/5
Price range: About £30 for three courses. Excludes drinks and service.