M Grill, a 100-seat restaurant, is part of the same 15,000 square foot M empire, which also includes the eatery M Raw, a wine bar, a secret den for City boys, as well as (should they need them) sleeping pods. Unlike its neighbour M Raw, M Grill offers a predominantly meat menu, but this isn’t just any steak house. “For M Grill we selected six countries in the world that breed the best beef, and then chose a single cut from each,” says Martin Williams, former managing director of Gaucho and eponymous owner of M Restaurant. “The beef ranges include Onglet from France at £18, rump from Argentina at £19, Blackmoor Australian Wagyu Sirloin at £130 and Kobe fillet at £150.”
The large cavernous space presented commercial interior designer, René Dekker, with a challenge to design an intimate restaurant by cleverly managing the space into cosier subsections. The vast dimensions of this space have been delineated into sections, which is achieved by the clever inclusion of tall screens. In addition, a sweeping staircase acts as a glamorous and symmetrical room divider that leads up to a mezzanine balcony…
This mezzanine lines much of the interior circumference of the building, and serves as a wine bar that overlooks the main restaurant. With a waist-height glass screen, the seating area here provides the perfect vantage point for people watching in a theatrical balcony style. But this floor also provides other, more prosaic functions – it visually lowers the building’s impressively cavernous proportions, adds a gentle curve to the classically angular and linear structure, and also provides an additional ceiling over the dining areas below. This means customers on the ground floor can enjoy a more intimate atmosphere, enhanced by the carefully placed downlighters for subtle ambient light.
The main lighting is then given a dramatic treatment with glorious pendant designs, ranging from styles resembling the rings of Saturn, to starburst formations, creating a dazzling focal point as well as adding a fabulous sense of sense of drama. Meanwhile the lights are suspended by long red flexes – a nod to the colour scheme of the neighbouring Raw restaurant as well as the crimson slabs of meat on show. These examples of bovine perfection are on display for customers to see and choose, while they hang like artwork in the crystal clear floor-to-ceiling refrigeration units – think Damien Hirst’s chiller cabinet.
Lining the walls of the Grill area are long banquettes in bright electric blue – a hue close to cyan and a representation of the colour of lightning, or electric sparks. These banquettes provide a visual “pop” of colour and complement the palette of taupe and chestnut in the rest of the Grill dining area. The impressively long banquette in the centre of the restaurant dominates the scheme, while for more private, intimate dining; there are also horseshoe-shaped dining booths, decked in the same stunningly sophisticated blue hue.
Keeping the scheme grounded are the individual dining chairs, which continue the overall natural, earthy look of the room as a whole – their upholstery is neutral in tone, their framework is wood, their look is simple, classic and sophisticated.
There are no frills and flounces here, just clean cut good looks, embellished with subtle layers of colour and touches of theatre, all 27of which are balanced and coordinated to allow the space to breathe. In fact, very much catering to a male, city-working clientele, the interior scheme could well resemble the look of the city worker himself. Dressed in predominantly stylish greys, the overall look is one of sharp, sleek sophistication, with an occasional splash of colour to add energy, vitality and vibrancy, as one would expect from a top London interior designer.
The scheme at the meaty M Grill is indeed a visual feast, and perfectly complements the offerings on the menu, as well it should. As Virginia Wolf once said: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”