"Reform’s gentlemen’s club vibe and menu delivers in spades"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
For a time it was considered deeply unfashionable, even uncouth, to flaunt one’s wealth. A generation of mockneys downplayed their well-to-do backgrounds, moving to inner city neighbourhoods they said they loved because they were “edgy” but were actually petrified of. Then the recession hit, and all of a sudden it was cool to be rich again. More private members’ clubs opened, restaurants started looking like gentlemen’s establishments of the turn of the century, and pubs were no longer noteworthy unless they transformed into gastropubs serving posh scotch eggs.
The Reform Social & Grill is the bar and restaurant attached to the four star Mandeville Hotel, although it has its own entrance. They’ve got the regulation dark wood furniture, marble-topped tables and booth seating of a men-only club, and yes, they have a version of a scotch egg made with a duck egg, the yolk of which is still runny and incredibly creamy, wrapped in piquant black pudding with oats instead of sausage meat. A dollop of apple sauce and some watercress cut through its rich flavours; it’s their signature dish, and it’s obvious why.
In-keeping with the masculine theme the menu has devilled cod’s cheeks on toast, sirloin and hanger steaks, veal chops, fish and chips and stuffed lamb’s breast.
There’s a dish of ling, a fish from the cod family that bears more resemblance to meaty monkfish. Here it’s baked in hay to preserve moisture, served with lemony spinach, pickled girolles and celeriac puree, a great combination of flavours. The chips are suitably chunky, served in a metal tin, crisp yet fluffy on the inside.
There’s a separate bar area with seating, where you can have snacks like crispy lamb bacon and lobster burgers, and robust cocktails like the Rooster, a twist on a martini with Tanqueray, Martini Bianco and vermouth. They even do a gentlemen’s afternoon tea, which has a wagyu burger and a hanger steak and snail sandwich, preferable to the ladies’ tea unless you really want your sandwiches served on chintzy crockery.
All this harking back to the exclusivity of bygone eras could so easily seem try-hard, but not when the food delivers, which Reform does in spades.
Leila reviewed Reform Social & Grill on Wed 20 Feb 2013