Urban Coterie at M by Montcalm, London: restaurant review

We review Anthony Demetre's new East London restaurant Urban Coterie, where seasonal ingredients get star treatment and London's best custard tart resides on the dessert menu

In a nutshell

East London’s tech city gets a slick new dining venue, Urban Coterie, from Searcys and Anthony Demetre (owner of Arbutus and Wild Honey on the 17th floor of the M by Montcalm hotel).


Who’s cooking?

Chef patron Anthony Demetre and head chef Martin Zahumensky, ex-Texture and Hibiscus, have devised the menu together; Zahumensky leads the kitchen. Demetre’s other venues are based on the concept of ‘bistro modern’ or bistronomy, which is fine dining without the stuffy setting and high price tag. Urban Coterie has an element of this laid-back feel in it’s sleek, modern setting.

Menu know-how

Dishes are well thought out, precisely executed and fulfill their brief of being ingredient-led. Each dish has a star flavour and supporting cast of contrasting side elements, such as the deep fried Jerusalem artichoke skin on grilled beef with ceps (possibly the nicest thing anyone has ever done to a Jerusalem artichoke); and a doll-sized squidgy ‘dumpling’ with the roast scallops starter.

Such touches give each plate a range of textures and make for a more interesting eating experience. The menus change monthly, so if Brixham crab, apple and celeriac are your bag, go now. Starters are priced from £7.50, mains from £16 and desserts are all £8.50.

What’s the room like?

Oddly shaped windows and a high ceiling dictated by the striking M by Montcalm hotel building (your sense of perspective is thrown completely out of whack as you approach along the street) give this space a sharp, angular feel that is tempered by blue, orange and cream soft leather seating and brass and silver hanging light shades.

It was relatively quiet when we went, but tables are well spaced so even if it’s full to bursting you’ll be able to hear your friends. At night the lights of East London twinkle below, by day the light floods in. A small bar tucked in by the front entrance is intimate, and provided it stays secret will be a little haven away the world.

Must-orders and misfires

Every dish we tried was well judged, expertly cooked and beautifully presented. The XO sauce served with the roast scallop was properly pokey in contrast to the bland dumpling foil; and an amuse of pig’s head with nduja mayo had every bit of the crunch you hope for. The killer recipe however is the custard tart: silky smooth and soft inside, it doesn’t even need the golden sultanas, walnuts and beurre noisette on the side.

Any other business

A £22 set lunch of 2 courses and a glass of fizz makes this an excellent spot for a birthday, or any other kind of treat.

The verdict

Urban Coterie brings a new level of smart dining to this side of the Old Street roundabout. While there are bars aplenty and cutting edge venues such as the Clove Club in the area, there’s nowhere quite like this.

17th Floor M by Montcalm, 51-57 City Road, London, EC1V 1JH 

Written by Lulu Grimes, November 2015

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