15/05/2015

Mabel’s. Maiden Lane, Covent Garden

I can’t remember now how I heard about Mabel’s. I think it might have been on Facebook, but I am ever so glad I did hear about it.

I signed up to their site, and got given a 50% off voucher for my first visit. We booked it up for the 14th of May, there and then.

It’s walking distance from work for me, which is a bonus, so I wandered along, went in and fell in love with the way they have decorated the place.  I very much mourn the demise of the Covent Garden Bar and Grill (sister restaurant to Porters, also sadly gone) on Henrietta Street, because I felt so comfortable there, but I think Mabel’s might replace it in my affections.

Maiden Lane needed some new blood. There’s the English plushness of Rules, which must never, ever change. A very good Thai restaurant called Thai Pin, and the Italianate hipness of Polpo, with its sharing plates, tattooed staff and scrubbed wooden floors.

Now there’s the Big Easy, looking like a be-neoned club, pumping smoke and grilled seafood scents into the street.

I think there’s still a GBK in the middle, and at the other end we have The Porterhouse which is a quite nice pub but very busy, and the inauthentic but still tasty La Tasca. La Perla do Mexican style food, and Fire & Stone are also along there. I admit their pizzas are very good. I’m just not a huge pizza fan. I might eat it once a year.

Mabel’s has taken over what used to be a cocktail bar, I think. They’ve done the place out in a very nice fashion, with lots of old pictures, mirrors

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and a terribly overblown chandelier.

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It all sounds a bit twee, but it really works. Not every chair is the same, but they blend in.

Now.

THEY USE PLATES. This is very important. If the food comes on a board or a tray for serving, as our first course did, they also give you a small plate.

There are no jam jars with handles to drink out of. Thank goodness.

When you first walk in, you enter a bar area, with high tables and stools. I thought someone was sitting in there working during their lunch, so didn’t pay proper attention, but it turned out to be a staff member trying to get my attention. Oops.

She was lovely, and was quite happy to seat me at a different table on their mezzanine floor, so that I wasn’t sitting with my back nearly up against a fire extinguisher, and almost in the doorway.

There’s a bar on this floor too, and the coffee machine is also there, which leads to an awful lot of banging when they thwack the coffee ground holder very hard to empty it. [narrows eyes] Yes, I jumped every time they did it as by Jove it echoes in there.

All very minor blips though.

There’s yet another seating area beyond the bar, so I might go in there next time!

Full marks ahoy for the food which, let’s face it, is what we were there for.

There’s a decent amount of choice on the menu, without being overwhelming. We had quite a hard time choosing, everything sounded so nice.

These are just the sandwiches. I wanted them all. I also want a cheese called Ogleshield. Because Ogleshield.

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I want to go back and try the salads.

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Finally we made a decision.

Duck Egg and Chive Mayo with Asparagus and walnut bread to share, then I chose Half a Smashed Chicken, and K had Battered Whale Haddock and chips.

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

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The egg mayonnaise is rich, but not cloying. The chives lift it, and the eggs are very tasty. The Lincolnshire Poacher cheese is a perfect addition, and the asparagus was very nicely cooked. Tender, not soggy at all.

There was a lot of the mayo, so I am glad we shared, because oh my there was a lot of the main dishes.

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Salt baked potatoes are a thing of wonder. They retain all of their goodness, and the skin is soft, but beautifully flavourful. Not overly salty at all. The chicken was very tender, with properly crisp skin, and a hint of smoke to it. It was also very nicely chicken-y. Not bland in any way.

The apple and fennel coleslaw needed to not have large chunks of spring onion, but for a fennel hater, the rest of this was a revelation. Fresh and light, with hardly any anise flavour at all but with a gorgeous crunch. I loved it. Once I’d pulled out the onion pieces.

We were a bit taken aback by the fish. Cor, mate.

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Yes, that batter is as crisp a shell as it looks. It was light, not greasy, and the fish inside was perfect.

Now I know everywhere does chips, but these were lovely. They tasted properly home cooked, very, as Kath said, Chip-y. Nicely done all round.

Dessert wasn’t going to happen. So we’ll have to go back.

My only complain, if you can call it that, is that the drinks options for non-alcohol people are a bit limited. They have an extensive cocktail list, and wine/beer/champagne list, but no non-alcoholic ones at all.

Tea, coffee, Fentimans juices, which I find way too sweet, or water, really. You do get tap water without asking, which is good.

 

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I would have loved to see a small list of pretty mocktails, like Hush has, but they aren’t on there yet. Ok, ok I am being picky, I expect but not everyone drinks.

We were told that of an evening you can ask the bartender and they'll make you something.

I love this list at Hush. It’s seasonal too, I believe.

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Overall, it’s a 9.5/10 for Mabel’s. I honestly can’t wait to go back and try more things from the menu. I very much enjoyed the experience there, it’s a very nice place to sit and chat, and eat lovely food, so thank you Mabel’s!

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