Bestie and I had arranged to go to Rex & Mariano (R&M) a little while ago, but cancelled because life just got busy for both of us. After seeing picture after picture of their gorgeous seafood in my Instagram feed last week, we decided to book a table pronto.
Rex is Rex Goldsmith, a renowned Chelsea fishmonger and Mariano is the father of one of the Goodman employees who sources all the fish directly from Sicily. The restaurant is part of the same people that brought us Goodman, Burger & Lobster and Beast but this time specialising in seafood and oysters. Located in a little cut-through between Dean Street and Wardour Street in Soho, lots of businesses have tried and failed to make a success of it there – even Vodka Revolution (and that says a lot if a bar can’t make it in Soho!). From our experience when we dined there though, I don’t foresee any such trouble for R&M. We both just loved it!
The dining room is large and airy with floor to ceiling white tiling and huge basins to wash the fish gunk from your hands, alleviating the need for finger bowls apparently. The waiting and kitchen staff dressed in their Breton stripes add to the nautical feel of the restaurant and the brass bell that rings from the kitchen every so often just enhances that seaside feel. Ordering is done via iPad. How cool is that? It worked well for us because we were very busy gabbing away and we could just order as and when we were ready to. Even though there is minimal interaction with the waiting staff (this is reflected in the 5% service charge rather than the usual 12.5%) they were all very sweet.
So what about the food then? The menu is split into six sections – starters, carpaccio, ceviche, tartare, plancha/grill and sides. Of the starters, the Burrata (£6.50) was my favourite. It’s pretty difficult to beat a good burrata in my eyes and this one was a fine example. The smoky tomatoes were deep red and bright yellow in colour and packed full of flavour. Clearly not the tasteless tomatoes we get in supermarkets here in the UK! The selection of bread (£3.00) that we ordered to mop up all the wonderful sauce from the various dishes we were to order, was slightly disappointing. The only piece in the selection with good flavour was the foccacia, the other pieces seemed past their best. We still ate most of it though!
We then moved onto the house carpaccio (£14.00), seabass ceviche (£7.50) and tuna tartare (£8.00). These were all delicious, but I enjoyed the tuna tartare the most – probably because it had avocado with it and I LOVE avocado. The fish was all extremely fresh and the quality second to none. The portion sizes are also really generous. Next up we ordered the red prawns (£10.00) from the plancha/grill section. You could have them cooked or raw and bestie was insistent that we try the raw ones. I am not normally squeamish and I love sushi, but I’ve prepared many a prawn in my lifetime and the texture of them when they’re raw sends shivers up my spine. I won the first round though and we ordered the cooked red prawns. They were everything a prawn should be – tender and full of flavour. She wasn’t going to let me off that easy though and still feeling slightly peckish, she made us order the raw prawns. As expected, I didn’t like them. Now that could be because I had already convinced myself in my head that I wasn’t going to like them or I just genuinely didn’t like them. I still managed three though, so I think I gave them a fair shot. She on the other hand absolutely adored them. Oh well, if we were all the same, the world would be a very boring place!
Our total bill came to £137.06 including drinks and service charge. Bestie and I can rack up quite a hefty bill when we’re out together, but we thought this was very reasonable considering how much food we ate. As I said earlier, we loved everything about Rex & Mariano – the atmosphere, the quality of produce on offer and the cool ordering system. If you’re a seafood lover, then I would highly recommend you give it a go.
Until we eat again!