When you live in London, Leicester Square is not somewhere you consider when booking dinner. Soho – yes, Covent Garden – possibly, but the unspoken rule is to avoid Leicester Square. Why? It’s viewed as a tourist trap, thanks to its proximity to the West End shows, and good food doesn’t tend to go hand in hand with pre-theatre menus. But that could be about to change.
Leicester Square might not be a place you’d expect to see a restaurant by Marco Pierre White, famously dubbed ‘the first celebrity chef’ and the ‘enfant terrible’ of the UK restaurant scene. If you like culinary TV, you’ll probably be most familiar with Marco from his stint as Head Chef on Hell’s Kitchen, which saw him teach celebrities to cook, with plenty of fireworks along the way. This Hell’s Kitchen stint was closely followed by Marco Pierre White’s next restaurant venture: steakhouses.
Mr White’s is Marco’s newest venture, having opened its doors in 2022. Described as a ‘Steak, Pizza and Gin House’, it’s right in the centre of the action at number 20-21 Leicester Square.
The food focus is crowd-pleasers: gin cocktails, classic Caesar salads, arancini, and of course, steak and chips. The frontage of Mr White’s looks smart: black and white striped awnings and a twinkly fairy-lit first floor terrace stand out from the neighbouring fast-food joints close by.
Team YCB visited the Marco Pierre White Leicester Square location on a November evening for dinner and drinks, with Leicester Square’s vibrant festive spirit being in full swing thanks to the annual Christmas residency of La Clique circus show. Once inside, Mr White’s felt like a welcoming haven – we were seated on comfy circular leather sofa seating, ideal for a cosy date. This was next to an impressive atrium space decorated with lush trailing plants, a botanical surprise in the hustle and bustle of London’s busiest postcode.
We began our meal with cocktails from the extensive gin menu; a Dirty Martini with Mr White’s Gin, dry vermouth and green olives. My plus one ordered one of ‘Marco’s Favourites’ – The Godfather cocktail – which mixes Jonny Walker Black scotch whiskey with Disaronno. Both were not shy on the alcohol content, with plenty of kick!
Caesar Salad is one of those classic, simple dishes that relies on fresh, quality ingredients, and good execution to become something special. It can expose a bad restaurant through its simplicity. We ordered two iterations to start: Marco’s avocado caesar and the hot smoked salmon caesar salad. And they were excellent – crisp and crunchy romaine lettuce bathed in creamy, drinkable dressing, with toasted croutons, salty sweet white anchovies, bright yellow-yoke boiled eggs, perfectly ripe avo and excellent hot smoked salmon.
On to mains – as a pescatarian I was hoping to try the ‘Redefine Steak’, a completely vegan soy-based ‘steak’, creating buzz in the culinary world thanks to its revolutionary texture which is 3D printed to mimic the appearance and meaty texture of the real thing. This was sold out which was a shame, my only gripe about an otherwise fabulous restaurant. Instead, I opted for the grilled salmon steak, plated up with bearnaise sauce, Koffman fries and piccolo tomatoes. Koffman fries were developed by world-class chef Pierre Koffman, who has worked closely with MPW through his career. Made using Koffmann potatoes, the cooking method for these chips involves par-steaming before a generous coating of grass-fed beef dripping fat (vegan option is also available) is added. This ensures the perfect crispness on the outside, whilst staying light and fluffy in the middle. We had ours dunked into peppercorn sauce (my absolute favourite) and they were a salty, crispy meets fluffy delight.
The salmon was perfectly cooked – moist, and not at all dry. My plus one ordered a steak, and gave this review: “As Mr White’s specialises in steak, I decided to go all-out to see what they can offer; this meant the signature 28-day aged fillet, with buttered spinach, woodland mushrooms, peppercorn sauce, and Koffmann chips. At almost £35 it wasn’t cheap, but when the generous slap of beef arrived, the price began to justify itself. Cooked medium rare, the charred edges complimented the juicy centre – and most importantly with steak, it maintained its temperature right until the last bite.”
Being a greedy eater I always make room for dessert, and at MPW’s I’m so glad I did. I ordered the classic sticky toffee pudding which was up there with the best – surprisingly light and spongy, studded with sticky dates, drowning in caramel sauce, all served up with a side of vanilla ice-cream. My plus one had less room but squeezed in an affogato – a scoop vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso which is poured over the ice cream – hence why affogato translates to ‘drowned’ in Italian. Service was also impeccable on the evening – Natalie and Christian looked after us so well, no request was left unanswered.
Mr White’s is a refreshing change of pace for Leicester Square, we’d visit for that sticky toffee pud alone. What Mr White’s so artfully demonstrates is that tourist hotbeds need not mean pedestrian food, crowd-pleasing classics can be elevated. Marco Pierre White is putting Leicester Square on the foodie map, one sticky toffee pudding at a time.
Make a reservation at: mpwrestaurants.co.uk or visit their Leicester Square location at 20/21 Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7LE