Restaurant Review: The Marlborough Tavern

Apologies for the lack of food pictures - the beautiful
candle-lit atmosphere meant they didn't come out!
I must admit that, having walked past this little place numerous times (it’s about sixty seconds from our flat), I rather thought it was just another gastropub – albeit one with a good reputation. But popping in for dinner the other day, I was pleased to discover that this is completely wrong. Although the menu is impressive, stuffed with tantalizing ingredients, the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming, with friends catching up at the bar and extended families taking over the bigger tables. Restaurant manager Rob is keen to make this a local pub that just happens to also serve great food.

And boy, does it. I scraped my plate clean through three courses, all of them gorgeous. You’ll have to forgive me for gushing, but this was genuinely one of the best meals I’ve had in quite a while…

To start, I chose pan-fried scallops with crispy parma ham. The delicate flavour of scallops can sometimes be bland, but in this dish, combined with the saltiness of the parma ham and deep-fried parsnip crisps, and the sweet fruity flavour of the apple and celeriac salad, it was perfect. The addition of fresh coriander really made the dish for me – it was an unexpected flavour, with the rest of the ingredients, but added a bit of freshness and zing to the whole dish.

For the main course, I chose a confit duck leg, so tender it just fell apart under my fork, served with red cabbage cooked in mulled wine spices, the ideal counterpoint to such a rich fatty meat. I’m not generally one for extravagant presentation, but I must say that this dish looked so pretty when it arrived that I almost didn’t want to disturb it – curled wisps of vegetable crisp piled up on top of the duck and cascading down like tendrils of ribbon.

By the time it came to the dessert course, we were flagging a bit, but we couldn’t resist the gorgeous confections on offer, so we shared a Baileys crème brulee served with chocolate chip cookies. I’m a sucker for a crème brulee, but I wasn’t sure how the cookies were going to work until the dish arrived – I’d been imagining something crisp and crumbly, but the cookies were actually stuffed with chocolate and nicely chewy. They complemented the rich and creamy brulee beautifully – a bit like having cookies with a glass of milk.

The menu changes regularly, but if these three dishes are anything to go by, you can count on a fabulous meal regardless. There’s a set lunch menu with a bargain three courses for just £15, and coming soon, steak night, mussels night, and burger night – so there’s really no excuse not to check this place out. And considering it’s just a minute’s walk away, you’ll probably see us in there…