The Punch Bowl

This is the tale of one of my favourite dresses. Well it was one of my favourite dresses until I met some friends at The Punch Bowl in Mayfair and one of the bar staff knocked an entire bottle of red wine over me. He was very apologetic and offered to pay for dry cleaning and get us some drinks but I was so drenched in red wine that I just had to turn around and go home, keeping the bar manager’s details with me. My dry cleaner had no luck getting the red wine out so I sadly emailed The Punch Bowl to let them know and as compensation the manager offered complimentary dinner and drinks.
The dress post dry cleaning
So thanks to a ruined dress MTV boyfriend and I had dinner at The Punch Bowl last week. The pub is quite famous in London thanks to its owner Guy Ritchie, there are plenty of tales of ‘lock-ins’ in the upstairs room with the likes of Madonna (previously!) or Jude Law. Other than the celebrity connection, The Punch Bowl seems like any other pub in this rather privileged neck of the woods. It has a traditional feel with candles on the tables, sepia toned photographs and wood panelled walls. The only giveaway is the “no photography” policy which seems to be aimed at guarding the privacy of its celebrity diners. I took some creative licence and decided to interpret this policy loosely to mean no photography of fellow diners rather than no photography of the food.
Crowds outside the Punch Bowl making the most of the current summery weather
A simple starter of plump spears of asparagus drizzled with hollandaise sauce was perfect spring fodder. The spears were tender and the hollandaise was a cheery, creamy yellow. However, scallops served with bacon were a over worked for a pub and the subtle flavour of the scallops was lost in all the extra ingredients on the plate. Less is more in my view.
Scallops with bacon
Our waiter talked MTV boyfriend into the trout by telling us it was in season and new to the menu. It was a good tip as the trout was a pearly pink and well paired with baby potatoes and purple sprouting broocoli. Hangar steak was served sliced on a board alongside a couple of fat potato chips and a slow roasted onion (£17.95). The steak had a great, slightly charred flavour however it erred on being the side of medium rather than the requested medium rare.
Trout with baby potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli
Sticky toffee pudding was moist, light and slathered in dollops of addictive caramel sauce. However the apple and fig crumble was a little bit soggy with the crumble topping lacking the requisite crunch.
Apple crumble
The Punch Bowl offers classic meals with a little bit of frippery as a nod to its Mayfair surroundings. As long as the waiters are not tipping bottles of wine over you, the service is very welcoming and friendly. They would not get away with charging these sort of prices for the calibre of food in other parts of town, but this is Mayfair and the pub does have a certain celebrity cachet. Dinner and drinks will never replace my dress but the spilt wine was a genuine accident and I felt The Punch Bowl responded well.
Details: The Punch Bowl, 41 Farm Street,Mayfair, W1J 5RP (Ph 020 7493 6841)
Damage: Reasonable although on this occasion it cost me one dress.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my review of the ultimate in gastro pubs, Heston Blumenthal’s The Hind’s Head or in London try a Sunday lunch at The Spaniard.

Punchbowl on Urbanspoon


  1. It’s not the fact that restaurants make an error but how they respond. Just a shame that you probably wont return for a meal due to the value.

    I had similar compensation from Chez Bruce after an error and they came through with flying colours and their reputation restored.

  2. What a wonderful spread…and definitely worth the spilled red wine on your dress 🙂

  3. I can’t believe that’s what your dress looked like *after* dry cleaning – that really must have been the whole bottle that spilled out.

    Anyway, a nice response by the pub, but you’re right – not quite the same as having your favorite dress back.

    I hadn’t realized they served food at the Punch Bowl, though your review suggests I wasn’t missing anything special.

  4. I had a meal there with friends about a year ago and thought it was a really fun place with absolutely lovely staff. I remember those things more than the food. Agree they handled the dress fiasco pretty well by the sounds of things.

  5. Oh poor you! That looks like it was such a lovely dress.

  6. When I first moved back to Chicago, I had a waiter spill my mimosa all over me. She blamed it on me and charged me for a replacement!!

  7. Adorable dress, sorry about the incident, but nice to see a restaurant actually step up and try to rectify the situation in the best way they could.

  8. Heart breaking when your favourite dress gets ruined by no fault of your own. I’ve had 3 favourite items ruined by drycleaners and a Chloe dress ruined in a post Fat Duck, drinking, sticky ribs affair at The Lonsdale. It was so worth it though.

  9. Gregory – Well said – mistakes always happen so it is how they are dealt with, I think they did a good job here.

    Sanjeeta – It was good compensation

    American in London – I know… pretty funny isn’t it.

    Greedy Diva – I think it is more about the atmosphere and drinks than the food.

    Krista – That is shocking service!

    London Lady – Very true

    Vintage Macaroon – A Chloe dress… I am crying just thinking about it.

  10. For your wine stain, try spraying dishwashing soap and hydrogen peroxide (50/50 mixture) on it to get the wine out. I’ve found that with repeated application, it’s literally gotten wine stains out of everything – including a favorite dress shirt that was soaked like this one (a full year after the fact). It’s at least worth a try.

    Oh- and thanks for the review of the food – that’s how I got to your blog

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