108 Garage: Destination, not pit-stop

No guesses either for the street number or for what formerly occupied this site. Yet its reinvention as a restaurant is undoubtedly a good thing. The legacy is all there – one only needs to look at the exposed brickwork and concrete floor – but the main reason for coming is, undoubtedly, the cooking. 108 is now onto its second chef, but Chris Denney’s legacy is still evident, lovingly updated and interpreted by Greg Clarke. So much of visiting a restaurant is now about more than just food, yet diners coming here will not be disappointed. If they can secure a counter-top seat at the bar (there are also tables), then it is possible to watch the chefs in action. This is performance at its best: the operation is slick, but full of culinary wizardry, daring combinations of ingredients and colours as well as a bit of obligatory foam. The menu is mercifully brief, with only around three each of starters and mains from which to choose. This allows the chefs to focus on what they are good at – namely the cooking. My comrade and I went for the tasting menu, which allowed us to sample the full spectrum of 108’s cooking. Post an amuse bouche and some wonderfully plump olives came the bread, accompanied by homemade chicken liver pate. Whereas my Mother would tend to judge a restaurant by its toilets (here, they were fortuitously clean), I believe quality of bread can be a testament to a venue’s potential. There was no disappointment in this respect, with said sourdough prepared with love, care and attention. Onto our larger dishes and a salad of burrata, peach, pistachio and lovage was a medley not just of colour, but of intense flavours too. Meanwhile, a fish main saw red mullet intelligently paired against kohlrabi. Desserts showed how willing the team at 108 is to consider pushing boundaries, pairing strawberries with basil ice cream or lacing cherries with horseradish. With starters at around £15, mains at ~£25 or a full tasting menu at £60, the local residents of Trellick Tower are unlikely to be visiting. Nonetheless, given the quality (not to mention the vibe and the service), 108 clearly seems to have built up a good following. Based on our experience, the venue should go from strength to strength.