Marco Pierre White, his reputation precedes him as the temperamental rock-star super chef who intimidates and bullies, so you can understand our slight apprehension when we went to meet the man himself at the launch of his brand-new restaurant ‘Marco’s New York Italian, located within the Holiday Inn, Saxon Gate, Milton Keynes.
The restaurant itself has a stylish sophisted look, wooden floors throughout, framed photos of Marco in action and a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy some classic, simple, authentic food from Marco’s vast portfolio.
Sat in the corner in his giant chair was Marco, smiling, utterly charming and the perfect host, making sure we had a drink to enjoy whilst chatting to him – I’ve no idea what all the fuss was about!
“Milton Keynes, it’s so New York, so Chicago, don’t you think, I saw an aerial view the other day and it was as if I was looking down on Chicago, I’m going to name it the Chicago of the UK “ Marco enthused when asked why he chose Milton Keynes for his new opening.
The menu here is Marco at his best, classic American dishes sprinkled with Italian flavour and twists, “You have to accept the classics and adjust them to personal taste, none are right , none are wrong, it’s a world of invention and exploration, and you have to respect everyone’s interpretation of a dish – if I came to your house to eat, it wouldn’t be about the food, it would be a privilege to be there, you had invited me to yourhome to share your meal with me – to me it’s not about the food, it’s about the social interaction with the people around the table, who am I to judge, I just can’t do that”.
Marco may not judge, but we certainly can – the carpaccio of beetroot, goats cheese and walnut dressing was utterly delicious and the calamari fritto misto with a tomato salsa mayo was perfection on a plate.
We were speechless at the surf ‘n’ turf, a rare 10oz ribeye, New Orleans blackened shrimps in garlic and rosemary butter, with French fries and grilled tomatoes, this was a simple steak turned into the most succulent meat you’d ever tasted – Marco at his best! And then there was the baked salmon fillet in a Tuscan bean ragu, a typical Italian dish given a very Marco twist, the flavours in this were exceptional, I could eat this everyday.
Marco may create all these recipes for the chefs to follow in his restaurants but what if he is cooking for himself “I don’t like pans, I just have a massive pot and throw everything in, far better and more authentic, so different from the menu herewhere authentic, uncomplicated food is served, it’s not pretentious, it’s just good food, served in a great environment.”
“My mother used to say “Marco. Marco. Marco” she was the kindest lady I have ever met in my life and shall I tell you the next kindest, my daughter Mirabelle – so kind! Kindness is the most beautiful quality you can have. I taught my daughter two things, number one never fall in love with a man who diets, and number two only ever accept white roses, never ever accept red roses!”
“Why? she obviously asked and I told her, you’ve always got to be loyal to the house, loyal to the house of York, I’m a Yorkshire boy and the white rose of York, be loyal to the house. I’ve taught my boys that as well, never give red roses to a girl it’s only ever white roses loyal – I’m a great believer in being loyal to the house whether you work in a restaurant, a company, anywhere you have to be loyal and that’s a fact”.
We’ll certainly be staying loyal from now on, loyal to ‘Marco’s New York Italian’ where the food is full of flair and flavour and the service is always with a smile and as for the white roses, well who knows it’s nearly Valentine’s Day!
For more information or to book visit: www.mpwrestaurants.co.uk/our-brands/new-york-italian/milton-keynes