May 15 2015

Rex and Mariano

Rex and Mariano is a fish and seafood restaurant in Soho, but in many ways it is very different to your average fish and seafood restaurant. It is named after a Chelsea fishmonger Rex Goldsmith and Mariano who is from Sicily and helping the Goodman Restaurants group (the group who owns this restaurant besides Goodman, Beast and Burger and Lobster) bring the best of the catch from over there. The restaurant is located on a side street of Soho, and to find it, you need to know where to go. The restaurant is big and we booked a table of 6 people (and easily got a table), but I think you can just as easily do a walk in. The décor is quite plain, but generally bright and reminded me of a Southern European fish/ seafood tavern.

How Rex and Mariano works is that they try to keep costs low, by you using ipads to order (which has become very modern recently) and the food comes very quickly, in around 5 minutes from when you order, suggesting, many of the dishes are made in batches before and then dispatched. This would be helped by their very small menu, which only features 5 different snacks, 3 different ceviches, 2 different tartars, 4 carpaccios and 8 larger courses (most of rhe dishes made from 3-4 different fish, there is definitely an abundance of salmon and tuna on the menu). The fish they get is very good quality and they can sell it at more affordable prices due to the cost cutting they do elsewhere, the ceviches/ tartars and carpaccios are large portions and cost £8 on average, very good value for dishes and the bigger courses are not much more expensive and £10 on average. They also serve a whole megrim sole for £12 and oysters for £1.75 and  £3 (depending on which one you order), cheaper than anywhere else in Soho. They can do this as besides the ipads, they have cut out the middle man and they source competitively priced fish from Sicily and the UK, and give this to you without charging a huge margin. This is a volume business model, not a high margin one.

Because the food comes so quickly they encourage you to only order a few things at a time and slowly keep ordering throughout the night. Maybe because some people had complained about the meal being too quick, the few waiters we say really put a lot of emphasis on ordering not too much at any point of time (the ipad also does not really let you order many things all at once). Because there were 6 of us, we could order quite a few different things (almost all the dishes from the menu) and then share them.

We first ordered a few burratas with smoked tomato and focaccia for £6 each, as well as bread and some stuffed olives (stuffed with yellow fin tuna and then lightly fried). I thought the olives were seriously good, so moorish and nice with the tuna inside them, loved them. The actual bread was slightly toasted and came in huge chunks, but the accompanying tapenade was very very good. I had mixed feelings about the burrata. It was not as soft as I think burrata should be and was closer to mozzarella, not that it is a bad thing, and it was quite interesting to eat it with the smoked tomatoes, they were quite interesting taste-wise, not sure I was crazy about them though. The smoked red tomatoes were very soft but the green tomatoes in the dish, which did not feel smoked were really hard and not ripe at all, and sort of distracted you from the dish.

I had read a lot of Rex and Mariano reviews before coming here and the main dish that people always mentioned were the red prawns, served with lemon, olive oil and salt and that you could either have raw or cooked, but most people decided to have them raw. They were very pretty and had a very light flavour to them. We also ordered the tuna ceviche (with tomato, jalapeno, coriander and red onion) and the tuna tartare (with avocado, chilli and chive). The fish was excellent in both dishes, the tuna seemed very fresh and chunky and amazing to have it for £8, seriously good value for money. But this fish was better for people that like a pure tuna flavour, as opposed to anything interesting created with ingredients. To me the ceviche and tartare tasted almost the same, and the ceviche absolutely lacked that ceviche tigers milk/ acid taste. These were excellent dishes if you wanted good quality/ reasonably priced fish, but less good if you were in the mood for a ceviche taste or a different tartare flavour. We also ordered a seabass tartare (with basil, olive lemon and bread), which also had wonderful fresh fish, and so did the salmon carpaccio (with olive oil, lemon, tomato and basil). But once again the focus was on quality fish for a good price, as opposed to seasoning the fish or making them into some interesting dish. Not that plain fish with lemon and olive oil is bad.

The main courses from the grill that we ordered were the “grilled tuna with cherry roasted tomatoes”, “whole Megrim sole, grilled, with lemon butter”, “fritto misto with old bay, lemon aioli” and “two handpicked Cornish crab cakes”. We also ordered all the sides there were on the menu – “broccoli with grilled garlic oil, pine nuts”, “fried courgettes” and “triple cooked chips”. The dish that stood out for most people was the whole Megrim sole, not a very pretty fish but cheap, tasty, very sustainable, a cheaper sister to the Dover sole. It was nicely grilled and very good, especially as it only cost £12. The tuna was a good large chunk of tuna, cooked medium/ rare, but by this point I had had too much good tuna without particularly interesting seasoning, so I did not eat it that much. The fritto misto was good, and had a lot of varied fish and quite huge chunks, so the fish vs batter relative proportion was good and the aioli tasty. The Cornish crab cakes had very soft and nice crab inside of them. I loved the courgette fries (I always like these) and thought the triple cooked chips were just ok, usually when chips are triple cooked they taste a bit better.

There were only 3 desserts on the menu – lemon sorbet without limoncello (which we ordered), lemon sorbet with limoncello or the chocolate mousse (which we also ordered), easy desserts you can either make before, or you don’t need to make. We ordered both, the chocolate mousse was soft and okey-ish, something you would expect if you bought a chocolate mousse from a good supermarket, and the lemon sorbet without limoncello was very citrusy, but actually a nice way how to end this fish heavy meal. 

If you love fish and find it too expensive in other restaurants, Rex and Mariano is perfect for you, it will give you great quality fish and seafood for very very reasonable prices. But don’t expect sophisticated dishes, dishes will focus on the fish as opposed to what you do with it.

Date: 15/ 05/ 15
Location: Soho
Price for 6 people with half the people drinking: around £250.43 (we overordered though...)

Rex & Mariano on Urbanspoon

Maija rated: 

3.50

Location: 

Rex and Mariano
2 St Anne's Court W1F 0AZ
London
United Kingdom
GB
Rex and Mariano Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3.5