Marani, 54 Curzon Street, Mayfair, W1.
Described as a mix of ‘Indian spices, Middle Eastern ingredients & cooking influences from France’, Marani is a new family-run traditional Georgian restaurant in the heart of Mayfair that celebrates Georgian culture & heritage & lifts the lid on the country’s wine & cuisine.
The two-story restaurant on Curzon Street champions ‘a lighter, contemporary style’ of Georgian food. Designed for sharing, dishes such as Khinkali dumplings, Khachapuri cheese bread & spiced broths are served alongside slow-cooked stews served in cast iron pots, skewered meats prepared on the grill & a wide variety of vegetarian dishes. Bread is also baked fresh daily in the restaurant’s clay oven.
The Restaurant itself has a homely feel to it. The ground floor has numerous small tables & also a semi-private dining room with an oval table for 6, with adjoining fireplace & backs onto the kitchen, almost as if one was sitting in the dining room of a member of Tbilisi’s bourgeois. The upper floor has two dining areas, one with the feel of a French palace or Tblisi high society with adjoining cocktail bar, & the other a fully private dining room with a collection of antiques & traditional dresses hanging on the encrusted & carved walls. The restaurant certainly has character.
Food wise for starters we ordered the Tuna TarTar with ‘Jonjoli’, an aromatic plant & Khinkali Soup. The tuna was fresh, & cut into large chunks making it sort of Sashimi like which was well received. The Jonjoli was mainly decorative but did also have a note of citrus to it. The Khinkali soup had a few small meat dumplings & mushrooms which was honest & rustic whilst still being light.
The main courses took us to either side of the culinary map, with the ‘Seafood Chakapuli’, a mussel, scallops & shrimp with rice, having an Eatern Thai quality to it, & the Veal Cheeks cooked in red wine bordering on a French bistro.
Sticking with the French bistro, the desert was in our opinion the ‘Pièce de résistance’ of the meal was the Napoleon Mille-fueille puff cake with very light mascarpone cream that was certainly on par with some of the best Mille-fueille in Paris.
It is difficult to know how to compare Marani to anything we have had before. Its blend of different cultures & tastes make it a unique experience. It may not be to everyone’s tastes, & the deep fried veal brain dish that we did not order will certainly raise a few eyebrows, but Marani is certainly an experience.