DETAILS: Dhs260 (soft drinks), Dhs360 (selected house beverages), Dhs405 (Italian bubbly). Fri noon-4pm, 6pm-10pm. The Lakes, Emirates Living (04 454 2638).
If you were labouring under the illusion that British food is all fry-ups and fish and chips, you’d be wrong. You’d be equally erroneous to think both dishes an abomination. So if your outlook on both matters is in need of an overhaul, Reform Social & Grill’s new brunch will sort you right out.
Designed to take diners on a culinary “road trip” throughout Britain, the menu takes in everything from Cornish smoked mackerel pâté to Morecambe Bay shrimp cocktail, grilled Scottish salmon to Leicestershire broccoli and stilton tart (via a not-so-British cheeseburger, which we’ll gloss quickly over).
Even the setting couldn’t be more appropriate to a lazy weekend lunchtime in Blighty. On this particular visit, we only plan to stop in for a drink in the pub garden when things rapidly escalate. Won over by the menu and the laid-back atmosphere, we throw our hat in for brunch and within minutes an enormous sharing starter slides onto the table. Though piled with traditional meaty morsels and classic picnic favourites from across Britain, the Suffolk trout pâté is the knock-out star. A densely smoky, fishy quenelle that trumps everything on the table, not least the slightly soggy-bottomed (for what could be more British?) and somewhat anaemic broccoli and stilton tart (too much time in the Midlands, perhaps…).
After gorging on mini Yorkshire puddings and heirloom tomato salad (this is brunch, stranger combinations have happened), we’re offered a welcome break before the signal for mains. In the spirit of Britannia, this gives us time to order another pint, comment endlessly on the weather and studiously avoid eye contact with everyone else in the room.
After a leisurely interval, the next course arrives. The Angus rump steak is beautifully cooked, as are the accompanying roasted field mushrooms, while the battered haddock and chips is a crisp, golden, flawless incarnation of the staple.
Despite having eaten our way around an entire island, our eyes fall ambitiously to dessert. The menu invites diners to “visit grandma’s for classic pudding”. Neither the rich, vanilla-y trifle nor the apple and plum crumble are anything like our nan’s, but neither are necessarily the worse for it (fewer rainbow-hued hundreds and thousands garnish the top, for one). And there’s also no-one to tell us off when we can’t quite finish everything on our plates.
Brunch is not all fish and chips at Reform Social & Grill – it’s a journey. One best enjoyed on a lazy afternoon in the sun.
The Bottom Line
A relaxed, filling culinary excursion across Great Britain.