The Punchbowl is Mayfair’s second oldest pub. Tucked away on Farm Street, a stone’s thrown from the beautiful Mount Street Gardens, the pub was formerly owned by Madonna and Guy Ritchie, when it got a reputation as a bit of a party venue… However, this beautiful venue has since changed hands and the late night street parties are a thing of the past. Instead, they pride themselves on their friendly atmosphere and fine dining experience.
I was lucky enough to spend the evening of the summer solstice enjoying the The Punchbowl’s Supper Club, with a specially-created menu by new chef Chris Hickey. The evening was hosted in association with English winemakers Sixteen Ridges, and each course was paired with one of their wines.
As a vegetarian, I was little trepidatious about the menu, but I was pleasantly surprised when Chris Hickey offered to create a bespoke meat-free menu just for me. Each course was delicious, and cleverly disguised to match the appearance of the carnivorous menu, so I didn’t feel left out! In particular, the main course of Freekah and courgette filled cabbage parcel with pistachio, pea and mint crumb was packed with flavour and paired beautifully with Sixteen Ridges’ Pinot Noir (one of their most popular wines which I was informed usually sells out before it gets bottled!). I was surprised to discover that there can be quite so much variety of flavour in English wines. My favourites of the evening were the Pinot Noir and the sparkling Signature Cuvee, which was served on arrival as a refreshing start to the evening. I was fortunate to be seated next to Sixteen Ridges’ head winemaker Simon Day, who helpfully introduced each wine and gave us an interesting insight into the winemaking process.
The Punchbowl is a delightful setting for a supper club, and with the wine and conversation flowing, the evening seemed to slip away so quickly. After enjoying a surprise tipple after dessert – a deliciously sweet cider wine – it was hard to believe that the midsummer sun had set, and it was time to leave. While the food and wine were beautifully paired and the service was excellent, my only tiny complaint was that we weren’t introduced to the other guests at the table when we sat down. This made for slightly awkward conversation groupings throughout the meal, and undermined the ‘supper club’ set-up of seating everyone around a table together. However, this certainly didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the evening as a whole, and I’m looking forward to returning to sample some more of Chris Hickey’s culinary delights in the future.
by Harriet Thompson