28 July 2017

A Curiously British Brunch at Mr Fogg's Tavern

Mr Fogg's Tavern has been on my list (you know, the one all Londoners have, of places to visit, eat or drink, which is as long as their arm?) for ages. AGES. What a joy it was, then, to be invited to try their new brunch - launching next Saturday - complete with bottomless punch.

Less than 2 minutes walk from Leicester Square station on St Martin's Lane, the exterior is a joy to behold.

If anyone ever asks you for directions, point them to the flowery, elaborate entrance.

Designed as the feminine counterpart to Mayfair's Mr Fogg's, the tavern is his Aunt Gertrude's abode, with a Gin Parlour on the first floor. As we arrived early for the brunch, we got a little snoop around before customers were seated for afternoon tea.

Oh goodness, the SMELL as you ascended the stairs. So delicious. So juniper-y.

We were then treated to a sample of possibly the strongest gin I've ever encountered (and on an empty tummy, couldn't finish). It was potent.

43.1%, oh my life

But then it was back downstairs for the main event - the brunch!

The pricing is quite ridiculous - as in, ridiculously good. For £32 you can enjoy three courses, or for a mere £6 more, you can enjoy unlimited punch for an hour and a half. And when you consider one glass of punch is £9... you'd be rather silly not to make the most of the bottomless option.

I tried the 'Rum-py Pumpy Punch': Barcadi, cherry liqueur, pineapple syrup and lime juice, topped with soda water...

Very good once you get the past the - oooof! that's strong - but the lime does overpower the drink, and left me wishing I could taste the cherry and pineapple a touch more.

My friend opted for 'Punch-Gin Above One's Weight': Bombay Gin, lemon juice, cranberry juice and rose lemonade

Aside from being very pretty - the rose petal is a lovely touch - was a delight. Very drinkable, having just a touch of gin in it (the other punches contain an extra type of alcohol) and the rose lemonade really coming through.

We were absolutely spoilt with the starters, getting the opportunity to sample them all - so no need to make any tricky decisions and risk food envy.

So first up was the flaked smoked haddock kedgeree, something I'd never tried before, which was light and more-ish, but didn't rock my world in the same way the honey roasted beetroot and goat's cheese croquettes did.

I don't usually like goat's cheese as it's too rich for me, but with the potato and addition of beetroot the taste was somewhat softer, and the herb mayonnaise (less of a mayonnaise, more of a chutney) was sweet and tangy - the perfect accompaniment.

Nope, your eyes aren't deceiving you: those are indeed FROGS LEGS; Passepartout's grilled frog's legs with sweet potatoes and banana sauce.

Considering it was by far the most controversial thing on the menu, people lapped it up. After assurance's from staff that it tasted 'just like chicken', I had to try them. And I'd say yes they do taste like chicken, but with a chewier texture. I think the fact the actually resembled frogs legs put me off a bit... but the sweet potato and that banana sauce made up for it.

I'm not sure what was in that sauce: sriracha? magic dust? But it was heavenly. We mixed it with all the other starters too.

Last up were the Crispy herb tempura prawns with spicy dip. I didn't find the sauce spicy - the banana sauce was spicy, but it was really good, pretty much a fancy marie rose sauce. And the tempura prawns were chunky and tasty with a little drizzle of lemon. I could've eaten more...

Next, the main. I chose the most typically 'brunch' item on the menu: Spinach and mushroom on toasted sourdough with duck egg and hollandaise, with a side of bacon rashers.

Holy macaroni, this looked fantastic.

I mean...

Look at it!

It seemed to be on a thick sourdough muffin, which was really satisfying because it added to the overall height.

It could have done with some extra hollandaise (gal loves her sauce), and I don't know what they'd cooked the mushrooms with, but at times it got a bit too sickly, but otherwise an amazing dish. The deck egg was a decadent addition - I'd never had one before, I felt very snazzy and I'd definitely order the bacon to counteract the sweet of the mushrooms.

Feeling thoroughly full, we had a while to let our food digest before being served a plethora of desserts (yep, we got them all #blessed)

First up, the Strawberry Parfait, and my favourite of the bunch. Strawberry jelly at the bottom with a strawberry custard, a generous helping of cream and thinly sliced tangy strawberries on top. Small but perfectly formed.

Next, I dipped into the Glazed drunken figs with a rum reduction and mascarpone. I'm not 100% on figs, something about the texture, but I adored the cream and rum.

Finally, the Trio of ice creams: vanilla, chocolate and pistachio. A bit melted, but by this point main service was in full swing and things were very busy, so I'll forgive them.

The ice creams, were were informed, were all natural. Personally I adored the dark chocolate, but it was so incredibly rich. The pistachio was light and authentic, whilst the vanilla - which was vanilla - was there to balance your taste buds a bit. Very tasty, but as all the desserts are priced the same, I wouldn't pick this if I returned as a customer.

My overall impression of the brunch was that it was fantastic, but if you go, make sure everyone orders different starters so you can try them all! The flavours and dips all tasted amazing together. For your main there are heartier options available, but I would definitely recommend the duck egg dish and the lobster salad dish for fancier brunch alternative. And as for dessert? The parfait was a clear winner.

Oh, and the punch! I was on antibiotics so weary of my consumption but again, get everyone to pick something different. Mr Fogg's Tavern is a bit of a treat, so make sure you make the most of your visit, whether it's a pre and post-theatre pit-stop or a lazy afternoon brunch.

Mr Fogg's Tavern's 'The Curiously British Brunch' launches Saturday 29th July. A legitimate reason to visit Central London at the weekend...

**I was invited as a guest by Mr Fogg's Tavern to review their brunch in exchange for review. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

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