Verru sits on the small but bustling Marylebone Lane, which is just off the main high street. With the likes of the Golden Hind with its BYO booze and L’Entrecote with its famed steak frites there is a lot of competition for this tiny restaurant. Verru opened its door back at the start of 2011 occupying a premises seating only 26, being so small the restaurant retains a cosy atmosphere but well polished decor in a modern setting.
The restaurant is headed up by chef and owner Andrei Lesment who decided it was time to inject some Estonian flavours into London which he was brought up on, combining Scandinavian influences too. Before opening Verru Andrei was chef at Maze restaurant and the Savoy. Looking at the menu, I found there were far more French/English influences to it, the steak frites they serve is probably in light of competition round the corner.
First out was a smoked haddock and bacon burger, accompanied by some light leaves and sauce. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting but I wouldn’t really call it a burger. It’s more of a fish cake, but without the breadcrumbs. The texture was somewhat interesting too, slightly rubbery and a consistency similar to scrambled eggs, but seasoned well. I wouldn’t order this dish again and recommend you go for something else.
Cured duck with truffle brown cabbage and apricot was one of the other starters we ordered. The duck, which is served cold, was nice and very tender for a cold serving; it also retained its succulence and was not dry. The truffle brown cabbage was slightly tangy and far too overpowering for the duck. The apricot, which is served as a sauce, adds some much needed acidity to the dish but unfortunately is lacking in flavour. The dollop of Hoisin sauce was nice but a strange addition with the rest of the flavours, completely throwing you off from thinking this restaurant is Scandinavian/Estonian. The dish was nice, but unfortunately not amazing.
Before I carry on I should point out that I’m eating from their set-menu at £12.95 for two courses, which for the quality and portion sizes of the food is a steal, I’m not sure how they make a profit, especially from the next two dishes we had. The grilled lamb leg, potato, anise carrots and mint sauce, was to say the least, very British in style, but tasted very nice. The lamb was a nice cut, although slightly overcooked. The carrots were beautifully aniseed with a real depth of flavour and the mash was light and fluffy. Unfortunately the sauce had far too much mint and dominated the dish but it was still very enjoyable.
The simplest on the menu and for me the star was perfectly grilled Entrecote, Verru chips and a side of nettle and herb sauce. The chips which were shaped as if they had been taken out of a potato with an apple corer were extremely fluffy and golden on the outside with a soft crisp, seasoned to perfection. If you’ve seen the McCain chip perfection TV advert (Google if not), the same chip testers must have been involved in the production of these! The Entrecote was heavenly, no effort had to be put into cutting as it was so tender, cooked medium rare (of course you can specify how you would like it) the meat simply melted in the mouth, an absolute bargain! The nettle and herb sauce was light and had just enough flavour to not overpower the meat.
I never got round to sampling dessert but I’ll be heading down again soon so will be sure to update you. If you’re in the area then I recommend you book a table for lunch as this is a bargain not to be missed, plus the wine list is pretty good.