Summer Supper Club at 185 Watling Street

by Jo Kenny

Disclosure: Our meal was complimentary. As always all thoughts and words are my own.

“Why haven’t we been here before?”
“I don’t know, why haven’t we been here before? It’s so nice!”

This was the conversation Q and I had as we walked down the sunny high street of Towcester towards 185 Watling Street where we were off to spend the evening. Towcester is West of where we live and I guess because we have no friends or family in this direction, or adventures have taken is elsewhere, we’ve never visited before.

The conversation only continued as we stepped through into the pub, and the hand holding my camera instinctively raised up to capture the millions of beautiful things I saw and instantly wanted to photograph.

We couldn’t help but make ourselves at home and began wondering around! The first room we found was a small day room; dark and moody and filled with old paintings and animal heads. To the other side of the lobby is another small room, lighter and more traditional for intimate drinking.

I was feeling very comfortable in these new surroundings! The pub opens up further back into a large and airy dining room with open kitchen, modern bar and large windows looking out onto one of the loveliest pub gardens I have seen in a while.

Our nearest and dearest friends have already been told that we’re bringing them back here for a drink!

New Menu

185 Watling Street is one of ten from the Epic & Heroic pubs collection. We were there to experience their Summer Supper Club in their lovely upstairs private dining, where Head Chef Martin Parker was sharing with us the new Summer menu, each course paired with a cocktail. Good thing this was held on a Friday night eh!

Drinks came thick and fast and I was in full catch up mode with Sophie, Lou and Jaz when our starters began to arrive. Most of us chose the scotch egg. (The obvious pub choice right?)

Soft, seven spiced pork with a crispy shell, a beautiful runny yolk and the most incredible sesame soy sauce for dipping. It was thick and black like treacle and long after my scotch egg was gone I couldn’t resist dipping my fingertip in a few times for another taste! Martin revealed that this dish has been his ‘baby’ and you can taste the love that’s gone into perfecting it. Absolutely nailed it! (Just writing about it has made me want another).

A refreshing mo-gin-to accompanied my starter, complete with ethical paper straw.

Being a Summer menu, there was an obvious theme towards lighter, healthier mains. The pork had caught my eye but Q got there first and so I chose the chicken, served with garlic potatoes, mozzarella stuffed courgette and roasted tomato sauce.

This one missed the mark for me. The potatoes were nowhere near garlicky enough and the chicken was dry and bland. Much more flavour was needed in this and I ended up leaving a lot of my dish, choosing to focus instead on my far tastier chilli and mango martini.

I also started eyeing up Q’s far tastier pork with envious eyes…

Grilled pork Tomahawk with black pudding crushed potatoes, pea & spring onion puree and meat jus. Lifted into Summer mode with that ultra fresh puree, smaller starch portions and a more delicate jus, but still packed with tasty stuff. This is how you do lighter food. I’ve gotta stop letting Q get first dibs on the menu huh?

The drinks kept flowing and with it the conversation… mine in particular as I was polishing off Q’s as well because he was driving!

185 Watling Street are serving up a bold and unapologetic Negroni which really divided the table, mostly into those who couldn’t handle it. Are you a Negroni fan? The bitterness is absolutely an acquired taste. If you give this one a try let me know what you think!

I finished my drinking with a crowd pleasing Espresso Martini, which always rounds off a meal so very well. Q couldn’t resist the eton mess for dessert (his all time favourite) and I chose the lemon curd and Amaretti cheesecake with blueberry sauce.

The cheesecake was average: pleasant although not memorable. The Eton Mess however had some interesting Summer twists, with pretty and refreshing cubes of Mojito jelly which added a tasty, boozy element. It’s nice when Eton Mess has a mix of whole fruit and pureed as well for a contrast of texture. It paired surprisingly well with my Espresso Martini!

At the end of the evening, the 185 Watling Street team joined us for a drink and spoke at length and with so much passion about where they worked. I learned that the kitchen are given creative freedom at each Epic Pubs establishment, I heard about all their ideas for the Summer: hog roasts and lamb BBQs and participation in local food festivals. I even learned that that those Mojito jelly cubes had become very popular among the staff with a few missing as snacks!

Our starters ranged from £6.75-£7.75, mains £15.50-£17.25 and desserts £6.50-£6.75.

I came away from this pub remembering the beautiful surroundings, the big smiles from every staff member, and that bloody delicious scotch egg. I will be back soon for a chilli mango martini in that beautiful garden.

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