Approaching from the outside, you might never know that The Punchbowl restaurant in Mayfair existed. On entering a traditional British pub with the same name, we were directed to a flight of stairs at the back to discover the unexpected restaurant on the first floor. First to be seated that night, the small and intimate restaurant seemed quiet, but as the evening unravelled a mix of clientele joined us to dine; a couple who we eventually decided were probably on roughly their third date, as well as a large group booking of ale-drinking men. All seated, the atmosphere buzzed and the small room filled with chatter. Sitting in a corner by the window, we had a great view into the part-open kitchen, and were able to see food being plated up, leading to eager eyes and anticipating tastebuds! So we kicked off the selection process over a smooth glass of red wine, recommended by the restaurant manager.
I started with a simple and light beetroot salad with blue cheese. The pink and gold beetroot were served in thinly sliced rounds, making for the most beautiful plate of pastel colours that was completely unexpected. The amount of blue cheese scattered on top seemed a bit mean at first, but the flavour was so intense and punchy that this proved to be the perfect amount to balance with the other ingredients.
My dining buddy for the evening chose wood pigeon to start. Both a breast and a leg were served, meat tenderly falling off the bone and melting in the mouth, accompanied by earthy beetroot (the unintentional theme in our starters) and a sweet cherry sauce.
Opting for meaty, wintry mains, we chose venison loin and a rib eye steak. The venison was served perfectly pink alongside a delicious, smooth braised shoulder croquette. Drizzled with a thin dark chocolate sauce, this dish was a combination of deep and rich flavours, and made for perfect seasonal eating.
The steak was clearly a high quality piece of meat, but for us it was the accompanying pile of truffle mash that ultimately totally stole the show (this wasn’t my main, but I dug in regardless under a slightly disapproving watch). Creamy and smooth, with that intense, distinct truffle flavour running through, it was one of the best parts of the whole meal.
The short selection of desserts on the menu rounded off our meal nicely. We chose a white and milk chocolate tart, the white chocolate giving a smooth & creamy texture rather than overly rich. It was served with a cherry ice cream for a hint of sourness to balance the sweet chocolate and pastry.
The plum tarte tatin with crisp buttery pastry, and juicy purple plums was a delicious twist on the classic French dessert. Served up warm, the sweet vanilla ice cream on top quickly melted.
The downstairs pub is the perfect spot to have a drink to round off your meal, or to carry on the fun if you’re not quite ready to go home.
The Punchbowl Mayfair
41 Farm Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 5RP