Situated on James Street, Marylebone, known for its high density of trendy restaurants and designer boutiques with the famous Chiltern Firehouse in close proximity, we had high expectations for the Reform Social and Grill. Housed in the grand Mandeville Hotel with its pillared entrance, it was a very opulent setting with deep red-leather upholstered sofas and mahogany flooring. I was immediately struck by its resemblance to a British gentleman’s club, which I thought was a rather unusual setting for two young women like ourselves to dine in. On the contrary, we were warmly welcomed where there was no hint of pretension and both the atmosphere and waiting staff were full of charm.
The quintessentially British surroundings were mirrored by the menu, which had an entire section dedicated to Yorkshire puddings. The sweet and savoury Yorkshire puddings had originally been the pull factor in our visit after discovering from a recent article just how popular they have been with the public. With this in mind and knowing just how integral it was considered, we made sure we saved room at the end.
The restaurant was keen to showcase their new five course tasting menu, which we trialled without hesitation. Within minutes, the white bean and parsnip soup was presented in front of us, which was a good way to start to take the edge off the cold British weather and its lightness put us in good stead for the remaining four dishes. The next course, the wild mushroom spelt, was a definite highlight where the truffle foam really added to it and the flavours complemented each other well. Similar to a risotto dish, the spelt grains gave it more of a fluffy texture and the consistency was perfect.
We then moved onto the “Silver Darlings,” an 18th century nickname for herring. Their method of salt baking kept the flesh juicy and the mustard potato saffron aioli boosted the flavours and added a kick to the dish. I was intrigued by the next course as I had never tasted pigeon before. I was surprised by its gamey appearance and texture where I was rather expecting something much lighter. The seared pigeon breast was beautifully presented on a rustic board with bite-sized pieces of beetroot scattered all over, however I was slightly underwhelmed by the intense flavour and found it slightly too rich. The tasting menu redeemed itself once again, finishing off with the white chocolate tart. To accompany the dessert, we were presented with Louis Dornier et Fils Brut Rose Champagne. With its berry aromas and citrus undertones, it paired well with the Raspberry ganache on the tart.
That may have been the end to the tasting menu, however we still had more in store; our highly anticipated dish finally arrived and we weren’t going to let a pair of full bellies get in the way. In front of us sat three large Yorkshire puddings, oozing with caramel, chocolate and clotted cream, which were delicious. The dessert however did not stop there and within no time at all, two old fashioned cocktails made their way to our table. Each consisted of Monkey Shoulder, a blended malt Scotch whisky, with a quirky touch of a miniature package of caramel popcorn clipped on the side. It was this special touch and the attention to detail of each meal, combined with the immaculate service that was worth noting. It was particularly impressive when the Mixologist came to our table asking for our feedback on the whisky based cocktails. This was followed by a personal surprise from his home country, a glass of Becherovka, a herbal liquor from the Czech Republic, which is known for aiding digestion. We certainly were in need of such a remedy after such an indulgent evening.