When I imagine what the depths of hell might be like I think of one place. Oxford Street. Yes the John Lewis is smashing and there is that fabulous Barbara Hepworth sculpture but overall – hell.
So to find somewhere pleasant to eat around there, that isn’t a Garfunkles or sub-standard Italian is good news. Step up The Reform Social and Grill.
My friend is delayed so on arrival I head for a drink. I sit at the bar and feel like I’m in an episode of First Dates.
The gin selection is impressive – there seems to be at least 20. I am also proffered a bowl of crisps. A good start.
Hendricks in hand I peruse the surroundings. It’s got a New York/Gentlemans Club feel about it (no not that sort of club). In fact they even offer a Gentleman’s afternoon tea for those boys out there seeking a more sophisticated stag/birthday do. Despite this, as a solo lady, I felt very relaxed.
The crowd is mixed as you’d expect for a week night in this part of town – a few couples, some informal business chats and a group of ladies.
The interesting thing is that this is actually part of the Mandeville Hotel, but thankfully it doesn’t feel like a hotel at all. More of that later.
Moving to the restaurant the ‘club’ vibe continues. Lots of wood, leather and Chesterfield banquettes. I love that word. Modern prints hang on the walls including vintage motor racing pics and Dandy magazine covers – no Bunty here.
So to the food. We’re offered two menus tonight – a standard a la carte and a limited edition Yorkshire pudding menu consisting of a selection mini YP’s – sweet or savoury. We weren’t really sure what part of the meal these should be consumed in, so opted for the standard menu. Other people are enjoying the battered choices but we can’t get a close enough look.
There’s a whole section entitled From the Josper Grill. No we didnt know what is was either. As a grill restaurant the menu is predominately meat and fish – just two veggie options on the mains. Butcher’s steak, pork T-bone and braised ox cheek pie – it’s a robust menu with a Brit feel about it.
We both opt for the cod and shrimp burger with red chard and tartare sauce. It arrived quickly and was presented well. No mini chip pans or galvanized buckets here. The burger had the addition of cheese. And in a statement you won’t hear me say often – it probably wasn’t necessary. The burger was great with a huge hit of fresh dill throughout. A nice soft brioche bun and excellent chunky chips completed the dish.
Desserts were a bit more random. Hot chocolate pudding and peanut brittle ice cream went down well with my friend. I was a little bit confused with my choice. Apple and berry crumble. A safe and reliable choice surely? What arrived was a bit strange. A bit like ginger cake crumbs on top (see above). Not exactly unpleasant to eat, but not really a crumble. I’m all for putting twists on things but you really need to explain to customers what they are getting. The fruit and custard elements were both lovely though.
When I started this blog my intention was to keep things purely positive. However I want to make just one point in the name of constructive criticism, as opposed to Giles Coren style restaurant bashing.
At 9.30pm when it was just us and another couple the waitresses began busying themselves setting the tables for breakfast the next morning. Out came the stupidly small pots of jam and marmalade and cups for the daily caffeine fix.
I get that we’re in a hotel, but up until that point you would never have guessed. We suddenly felt that we off the radar, wanted gone and that their attention was focussed elsewhere. If it was past 10pm I’d have probably not minded but 9.30 felt a bit premature. Gripe over.
The music stood out for a soundtrack in a restuarant like this. Suede, The Smiths, Sleeper and Ocean Colour Scene – a proper indie disco which took us back to our younger days. We approved.
If you’ve braved some high street shopping, or want a central mid-week meet up then this is a good bet. They’ve got lots of different menus including afternoon tea and brunch with FREE FLOWING bubbles which is certainly worth considering.