Victorian Antics at Fogg’s Tavern

One of the best things about London is its collection of hidden gems and that marvelous feeling when you know that you’ve found a real diamond. That’s exactly how I felt as I wandered into Mr Fogg’s Tavern (and back in time!) in Covent Garden for lunch with Colleen this week.

The Tavern is a new adventure for Phileas as he inherited the venue after the passing of his beloved Aunt Gertrude Fogg last year. And so it is that Phileas is now the sole owner of 58 St. Martins Lane and Gertrude’s former housekeeper, Fanny McGee is the landlady. 
You just know you’re in for a good time!

It’s an eclectic scene that greets you; wonderful Victorian artifacts that you can imagine Phileas himself collected whilst he was adventuring Around the World in 80 Days. In fact, the setting is rather like his Mayfair residence, but more rustic and less refined.

You’ll promptly find yourself seated in a lovely tavern seat with an excellent bill of fare (or menu to us modern types) already waiting for you.

But I’d already been advised what was the top choice: Mr Fogg’s Finest Hot Pies. I loved that this little cart goes outside at lunch time and even if you don’t have time to stop for a sit down lunch that you can grab a hot pie with all the trimmings to go!

Rustic cutlery, already on the table in a tankard, finishes the decor perfectly.

It wouldn’t be a Victorian adventurer’s tavern without a portrait of Her Majesty and a globe, would it? 

Given that I knew it was going to be a cheat day as I was having pie, I decided to go all out and order a couple of cocktails to complement my lunch and to really get into the spirit of Fogg’s! 
I ordered A Fanny in Mead to start: a refreshing vodka based cocktail with lemon, mandarin bitters and fresh basil. I have to say it slipped down a treat..! 

As Colleen and I gossiped about her gorgeous new flat and caught up about her recent adventures to the Isle of White our Hors d’Oeuvres arrived. And boy was I impressed!
Firstly, we ordered the British charcuterie platter with bread, chutney and pickles. All sourced from good ol’ Blighty herself – and Phileas and Fanny even have plans to start making their own!

The bread was slightly salty and perfectly toasted. All the meats had delicious, bold flavours that were utterly moreish. In fact, we slightly had to pull ourselves away from this one as we knew there was much more to come!

Our other Hors d’Oeuvre was the Cornish crab on sourdough with lemon and chilli. Beautiful crab that had a really delicate flavour that was perfectly complemented by the lemon and chilli. Simple but really well done.

In fact, it disappeared pretty sharpish, too!

 “Okay, maybe just one last bit of charcuterie” we both decided…

Does anyone else find that cocktails tend to disappear when you’re catching up with friends? I’ve just got no idea how it happens…

Next up for me was Mr Fogg’s Restorative Gin Mary; a beetroot infused Hendricks gin with lemon, a splash of port and the secret tavern mix. Wickedly spicy and very restorative if you ask me!

The main courses were just as special as the starters; the Dedham vale beef, suet pastry and home smoked bacon pie for me and steamed Dorset mussels with spicy sausage, cyder and crusty bread for Colleen.

You can tell that so much effort has gone into the food and that it really has paid off; the pastry was beautifully crisp, with a crunch to die for, before exposing deliciously tender, flavoursome meat. I mean really, it was a perfect tavern lunch.

And did I mention the gravy? Oh yeah, lashings of gravy to pour all over your lovely pie, just adding even more flavour and depth.

Colleen’s mussels were just as delicious; fresh fish, lots of herbs and a slight kick from the spicy sausage made for an excellent dish.

It might be tavern fare, but it’s done so well that it wouldn’t be out of place in one of London’s top restaurants.

And the star of the show? The roast potatoes. I kid you not when I say they were the best I’ve ever had. Crunchy on the outside, hot and fluffy in the centre and with secret seasonings and flavourings that made them almost taste like fish and chip shop chips.

They’re something really special!

Colleen and I have a magical ability to make time disappear when we’re together, and all too soon it was time to take our leave back into the real, modern world.

But I think I’ll be taking another adventure to the tavern very soon, after all it’s so convenient for college and it is right in the heart of one of my favourite areas of London. How could I resist the great food and cocktails?

You’re right; I couldn’t! I’ve got my eye on the Gin Parlour for next time and maybe even the Gin Safari. With soon to be the largest collection of gin in London, and as someone who is partial to a good G&T, it seems like the perfect experience!

Phileas and Fanny, I’ll be seeing you soon…

I was a guest of Mr Fogg’s Tavern but all opinions and photos are my own.

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