Worldwide icon-chevron-right Europe icon-chevron-right United Kingdom icon-chevron-right England icon-chevron-right London icon-chevron-right Morden & Lea

Morden & Lea

Restaurants, British Chinatown
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
 (© Mark Chivers)
© Mark ChiversGrilled mullet with spelt and mussels
 (© Mark Chivers)
© Mark ChiversBlackberry and lemon mess with pistachio cake
 (Mark Chivers)
Mark Chivers
 (Mark Chivers)
Mark Chivers
 (Mark Chivers)
Mark Chivers
 (© Mark Chivers)
© Mark Chivers

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A two-storey bar-restaurant in Chinatown.

Who’d want to eat within spitting distance of Leicester Square? With the exception of the better places in Chinatown, this overcrowded tourist hell offers nothing that a real Londoner would regard as a memorable restaurant. But that vacuum presented a real opportunity for someone who could put the right kind of menu in the right space at the right price.  

Step forward restaurateur Mark Sergeant. He’s been a busy guy, running restaurants in Kent and one in King’s Cross, and recently signing on as a consulting chef at the Strand Dining Rooms. Now he’s opened this two-storey place in Chinatown. 

The look is so thoroughly modern-woody-and-ventilation-ducty you would never guess the building formerly housed Chuen Cheng Ku, a longstanding dim sum palace. There’s a dining room upstairs with lovely skylights as well as a more informal space downstairs with a bar area. But nothing is really that formal here, especially the warm and friendly service.

We ate downstairs, from a French/Spanish/Italian menu of tartines (open-faced sandwiches), small plates and a few puddings. Two tartines – one topped with anchovy, onions and black olives (£4.50), the other with a grilled sardine on a tangy tomato sauce – were both successes. Stars among the small dishes were beautifully balanced smoked cod’s roe with bottarga and the most expensive, a crab roll (£8.50) which was a finger-licking joy. Only a misconceived carrot salad, presenting the uber-fash veg du jour in three different forms, fell into the fail-zone. 

The upstairs menu is based on two or three prix fixe courses (£29 and £35 respectively) and features considerably more complicated modern cooking. British produce and producers are eagerly name-checked, and with reason: they buy well. Nearly half the wines cost less than £30 a bottle (yay!). 

Even on an early showing, M&L has real promise. Plus-factors include low cost (for small plates at least), great cooking, friendly service and a diverse offering of both food and alcohol. It makes Leicester Square a dining destination – something we never thought we’d see. On your way there, you can look at those pizza-pasta-all-day-buffet chains and walk on by. Richard Ehrlich

THE BOTTOM LINE On-trend small plates, and small prices too. 

By: Richard Ehrlich



Address: 17 Wardour St
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service: around £70.
Opening hours: Tuesday - Saturday Lunch 12-3pm, Dinner 17:30- 11pm
Do you own this business?

Users say (1)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

So much potential and a fantastic option in an otherwise chain restaurant area.  Service was quick (almost too quick!) and we were in and out in 50 minutes...perhaps they thought we had a theatre to go to! The food was great, good reliable, quality produce. The only issue was that it was empty, so lacked atmosphere.  Hopefully word will spread and it will start to fill up! There is also a tapas style restaurant downstairs that I am yet to try....maybe that will be be a bit more buzzy!

Snap up exclusive discounts in London

Time Out's handpicked deals — hurry, they won't be around for long...