I try not to have any preconceptions when I go to a restaurant. I want to just go along, enjoy the food, enjoy the atmosphere… bob’s your uncle. (Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that I clearly turned into Del boy overnight). However, when I was invited down to The Punch Bowl, I couldn’t help but have a little google of the gastro pub come dining room, set in one of the most stunning area’s in London, Mayfair, and wonder just how nice can a pub be?
In short – and because the secret 5 year old in me can’t hold the suspense – really bloody nice.. The Punch Bowl is a very strange contradiction; the downstairs pub area was absolutely heaving with people, to the point of it would probably get a little too much for me quite quickly… but the upstairs restaurant however, is stunning. Serene, peaceful and scattered with funky artwork of models, many gold accents and ambient lighting that was perfect for a date (but awful for photography #BloggerProblems) I immediately felt relaxed and ready to eat like a pig for my 3 course meal.
Of course I went for 3 courses, you know me by now 😉
First thing’s first, when I alerted the lovely waitress, named Sara (I think, I’m pretty awful with names), of me having coeliac disease and needing to eat gluten free, she immediately understood and listed off a whole host of dishes that would be fine for me, checking with the kitchen right away also which made me feel at ease from the very beginning. I was so pleased to find that there were many gluten free options with the vast majority of the dishes being able to be made gluten free. Also, the chips were fried separately meaning that I could demolish actually eat them [insert hands up/hallelujah/heart eye’d emoji’s here].
After perusing the menu – I am that girl that takes an age to decide even though she’s pre-checked out the menu at home – I finally decided that starting with some wine would be the best option…
Saving me some crucial extra minutes to make my decision…
I really liked the menu at The Punch Bowl. A mixture of nibbles, small plates and big plates means you have the option to try a little of everything or go hard or go home and we kiiiiinda’ did both.
Starting with some Olives which were so tasty, with a good mix of each variety too, they were the perfect start to the meal.
Before moving on to some vegetable crisps and ranch dressing – the dressing was substituted to be made gluten free – and these, these probably shouldn’t have been so amazing… but they really were. So flavoursome but also light enough to not make you feel too full. (Not that’s really a problem for me as I have the appetite of an elephant, no seriously….). But they were good, seriously seriously good.
Moving on to the mains. I have to say, after being told I actually couldn’t have the fish pie due to flour being added to the mix – which didn’t upset me too much as I was just really pleased to see our lovely waitress/the kitchen staff so on the ball – I was a green eyed monster a little envious watching Dan receive his burger and chips whilst I ended up with the Trout, new potatoes and roasted veg. The burger looked, and apparently tasted, incredible. Full of flavour, the meat was rich and juicy and the chips were just perfect (which I can vouch for).. the only downside is that it highlighted my fiance’s loss of fiance points because he picked a main that I couldn’t try 😉
On to my main which, whilst it didn’t really sound spectacular on the menu, it certainly tasted it. The fish was cooked perfectly, the vegetable’s nice and crisp (no one like’s a soggy bottom vegetable!) and I loved the combination of the soft boiled eggs and salty new potatoes. I ordered a side of triple cooked chips – because carbs on carbs is totally OK, right? Right… – and they were actually beautiful. Salty, the right amount of crunch… just perfect.
P.S Can we all appreciate how hard I’m trying to not describe everything as lovely/tasty/flavoursome/[insert your own choice of equally unoriginal descriptions here]?
On to dessert, my options were narrowed down quite significantly here with the Eton Mess, and selection of Ice creams and sorbets being gluten free, but as a huge Eton mess advocate this wasn’t much of a problem…
My eton mess was actually incredible. Absolutely brimming with the creamiest, richest cream and a nice amount of meringue and strawberries, it was the perfect end to the meal. Well, food-wise. I am all about the after dessert coffee…
Dan opted for the cheeseboard and contently munched his way through the good selection of cheeses, crackers, grapes and chutney, briefly – and I mean, 2 seconds kinda’ brief – pausing to let me take a photo. He still hasn’t quite got the hang of this blogger boyfriend whilst eating out thing yet…
Finishing off with an obligatory latte, Dan and I really enjoyed just chilling for half an hour (knowing that no more photo’s needed to be taken) talking about life and how lucky we are to be able to experience things like lovely food reviews together. Overall, we really, really enjoyed this dinner. I found it a little hard to put my finger on quite why I liked The Punch Bowl so much and I think it’s because it has character. You have the option to have a lively drink and chill with the girls/lads after work downstairs… or go upstairs to the beautiful restaurant and enjoy a delicious meal in a gorgeous setting, but without it feeling too smart/pompous that you can’t relax. And those sort of places are always my favourite.
I would love to know if you’ve been to The Punch Bowl before or if it’s a place that you’d consider? As always, if you have any London restaurant – in particular, gastro pub – recommendations, I would love to hear from you 🙂
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post!
*This meal was very kindly complimentary but all thoughts, photographs and love for triple cooked chips and eton mess, my own.