Some restaurants depend on passing trade for business, while others rely on their reputation to draw in custom, and – at time of writing at least – the M House Café Bistro can count on neither. While the location is slap-bang city centre, tucked away at the end of a graffiti smattered alleyway it is somewhere few diners are likely to stumble across. Also, prior to our visit, the restaurant attached to the boutique M House Hotel was a genuine mystery.
From the dim narrow lanes of its environs, you enter directly into a bright and pleasant courtyard decorated with potted saplings and creeping ivy. With a choice seating between a leafy rear conservatory, cosy low-lit bar-reception area, and the peaceful courtyard, we picked the latter.
An appetiser came in the form of pan de cristal, which had the perfect combination of crunchy crust and light airy interior; served with homemade butter, it was an auspicious opener. And the first round of dishes didn’t disappoint. Gyoza dumplings were filled with 24-hour braised suckling pork, and were rich, meaty and satisfying. Soft shelled crab was lightly encased in tempura batter, its delicate flavour teased out with sake and lime foam. ‘Irish’ croquettes were filled with duck confit and, while tasty, might be too salty for some.
We didn’t linger on this peccadillo for long, as next up was baked sea bass in vierge sauce with fennel and orange, the delicious fillet separating effortlessly into juicy flakes and the skin crisped just so. A Galician ribeye steak with grilled mushroom was cooked to perfection, with a taste and texture that left little doubt as to its excellent quality. The moules were plump, fresh, and impressive in both size and flavour, while the accompanying frites were perfectly unfussy.
For dessert the refreshing mint and zingy pomegranate of a pineapple carpaccio created the necessarily counterpoint to the Valrhona chocolate tart‘s rich, moist density. A vanilla panna cotta with raspberry compote and ginger biscuit crumble was lost between them, and neither delighted nor disappointed.
The man behind the meal is Irish-born executive chef Stephen Sullivan. He cut his teeth and honed his considerable skills at five-star establishments around the world before moving to Mallorca two years ago. And his take on Modern Mediterranean with Asian flavours left us undeniably impressed. While there’s little the restaurant can do to boost its passing trade, our experience left us in no doubt that – thanks to Stephen’s excellently executed menu – its reputation will soon put it firmly on the map.
Why eat here?
Top-notch Modern Mediterranean cuisine in secluded city centre locale.