Here’s a thing. I’ve never really done a PROPER ‘tasting menu’ before. I mean, I’ve been out and had lots of little bits of everything, but in the official sense as a cohesive experience in itself, it’s something that was still on my foodie bucket list. Until recently, at least.
Situated in Marylebone’s Mandeville Hotel, Reform Social and Grill are currently offering a five-course seasonal tasting menu, highlighting the best of British cuisine. I got the chance to give their Yorkshire-inspired menu a go thanks to Red Letter Days, where you can get yourself the full five course tasting menu for two and a bottle of wine for just £49. Bargain, right?
Reform Social and Grill takes its inspiration from the traditional British gentlemen’s club and was a lovely place to walk into from the get-go, with cosy booths, cheerful and friendly staff and a relaxed, intimate feel.
We also had a chat with Chris, the chef, who gave us some interesting insights into the processes behind creating the menu. All the ideas come from the chefs themselves, rather than any restaurant management, and all the produce is locally sourced from responsible suppliers. The chefs will have around 3-4 tastings to make sure everything’s perfect before putting it into their dishes, which is pretty reassuring. The main focus is on good pricing for quality ingredients and a great experience – something I can totally get behind.
First up was a fun-looking starter of potted chicken liver with a hot Yorkshire pudding. The Yorkshire was crisp and perfectly cooked, and the potted chicken liver was just fantastic. A smooth and rich pate, it tasted brilliant spread onto a bite of Yorkie pud, and even the decorative thyme leaves were edible.
Course number two? Lamb and black pudding faggots with a parkin crumble. I was actually quite apprehensive about this one, as I’m not the biggest black pudding fan and had no idea what parkin crumble is. Well, apparently, parkin is a gingerbread cake traditionally made with oatmeal and black treacle, which originated in northern England. I KNOW. GINGERBREAD CAKE AND LAMB SOUNDS SO WEIRD.
But it worked. It really really worked. In fact, this might just have been my favourite course. The faggots were beautifully cooked, and the parkin not as sweet as I’d imagined adding a slightly unusual but great tasting dimension to the rest of the dish.
Fish was the dish for course number three – in the form of a West Yorkshire fish cake with salt and vinegar mushy peas. Made from cod and potato, the fish cake was coated with a crispy batter, and the inside fell apart just beautifully once you’d cut into it. Perfect with a little squeeze of lemon. And the mushy peas were definitely bang on for texture – soft and creamy, with a full-flavoured taste.
Another fish dish! Apparently, the original incarnation of the menu saw meat and fish alternating, but the team realised that the order as it now stands just made more sense and worked better. This fishy wonder is a hearty mouthful of beef dripping poached sea trout, served with wild garlic crushed potatoes. The trout was great, but for me the real star in this dish were the potatoes – potentially one of the best ways of serving the humble starchy veg that I’ve experienced. So good. So very good.
Our last course of the tasting menu was, of course, a dessert – in the form of another Yorkshire pudding, but with rhubarb and thick custard filling, drizzled with powdered sugar and a piece of liquorice popped on the top. Apparently, the idea came from the puddings being topped with with jam and being served to kids as desserts up in Yorkshireland. Honestly, I’d never in a million years have considered a Yorkie pud as a dessert, but this was absolutely WONDERFUL.
Okay, I took off the liquorice because I’m not a fan at all, but the fruity rhubarb and sugar transformed the Sunday roast staple into something completely different. It tasted like one big sweet explosion in my mouth, and I definitely want to find more where this came from please. TAKE ME TO THE NORTH!
The food itself at Reform Social and Grill was great – although I’d recommend having a big lunch earlier in the afternoon, as it’s a tasting menu only. Having said that, the menu did actually fill me up and I loved tasting all the different courses. I think for £49 including the bottle of wine, it’s a top notch experience for food fans – and it’d be a great way to impress your mum when she comes down to visit without breaking the bank.
*I was invited to try the Reform Social and Grill Tasting menu experience by Red Letter Days. Usual total honesty policy applies!