What possible delights could lie behind the clandestine wooden door, tucked away in a nondescript and otherwise featureless location on Cleveland Street? The entry is modest, but somewhat sinister at the same time.
Creaking open the rustic wooden door, you’re face to face with the business end of a Viking Ship. You quickly get the sense you’re set for a journey of fantasy and escapism, the likes of which only Mjølner could host.
Descending the stairs reveals a veritable wonderland of all things Viking. This former subterranean Tobacco-packing basement proves the perfect setting for a dimly-lit voyage to Valhalla.
Ancient weapons on display and ornate cabinets filled with horns warn you of spoils fit for sea-faring barbarians.
We arrive early – intentionally – in order to sample some of Mjølner’s extensive and quirky Cocktails. The Northern Lights ($20) being the most popular, and we feel the need to seek-out the meaning of the fuss. It’s a cool and refreshing palate-primer, intended to be quaffed with ferocity; an attitude you’d expect of any thirsty Viking.
As any true Martini aficionado might find, I couldn’t resist dabbling in a To The Hilt ($24), gearing me up for a savoury flavour explosion. Smokey on the nose and floral in the throat.
The only thing that stopped me having another, was the fact that our table was ready.
I quickly switch to wine – noticing a Soave ($14) on the menu – but finding it was less minerally than usual and not to my particular taste. Switching to the French Chenin Blanc ($20) for our next drink proved a shrewd decision.
We begin our journey with Half a Dozen Oysters ($28). Sydney Rock I think, but who the hell cares.
The Half Shell Prawns ($24) with Seaweed Butter did the polite thing by not over-crowding our stomachs before the rest of our meal, while remaining sticky and sweet, with a respectable char.
The ‘Hero’ entree in my opinion of Roast Bone Marrow ($23) was served sans-fuss, to be spread on grilled sourdough like the god’s butter it is.
We step outside for a quick smoke, and the reality of the busy street outside suspends the fantasy, if only for that moment. That is, until we return to our tables, and are asked to chose our weapons from a selection of knives encased in an old leather roll. This is probably the only situation where being presented a set of medieval knives in this fashion, will lead to a positive outcome.
Moments later, mains are served. The Whole Grilled Trout ($40) stares back at us in full and fine form, as though it had been plucked from straight from the North Sea and grilled atop a bed of posh veggies. It basically was that, but I’m guessing more locally sourced. It’s a winner.
The Crispy Brussel Sprouts ($13), are served with Fresh Cheese Curd and Pork Back Fat, so we order them (lest we be struck down by Thor himself for the charge of ’Not-Living-Life-To-The-Max’). We stick to the normal way of getting hammered (Mjolnered? Sorry.).
The Grass Fed Short Rib ($48), it served upside down (probably because it looks cooler), and is accompanied by an ingenious Onion Butter and Squid Ink sauce. I’m a huge fan of squid ink and love anything as black as my own heart. Hats off to Mjølner for this one.
Mjølner is far from the tacky, themed, gimmick establishments of yesteryear, and instead provides cheeky and thematic acknowledgements to an underlying aesthetic and philosophical underpinning. The food is great. The escapism is just as good.
Come and part with your Gold.
267 Cleveland Street