Maggie Walsh samples Mawell McKenzie’s pop up restaurant at the Vineking in Reigate
Reigate has an abundance of places to have a good meal out.
Local residents in this leafy part of Surrey are spoilt for choice and can choose to dine at one of the more familiar high street chains, or treat themselves at one of the many independents serving classic dishes from the owners’ homelands.
A recent addition to this gastronomic hot spot is the culinary delights of Maxwell McKenzie – a young Michelin trained chef who has built a reputation serving his modern British fare at private dining events or pop up restaurants across Surrey.
My husband and I were lucky enough to sample McKenzie’s cooking, who having spent four years under the stewardship of Marcus Wareing at the Michelin-Starred The Berkely, London, has developed into an outstanding young chef with a great understanding of flavour.
Our epicurean experience that night was made even more enjoyable because we were sampling McKenzie’s fare at the locally renewed wine merchants, the Vineking, in Church Street.
Not only were we to enjoy a sumptuous four-course meal, but were to have wine connoisseurs guiding us through our tasting experience.
McKenzie cooks the dishes in a very tight corner of the ‘restaurant’ so a set-menu is all that is on offer.
This also allows the Vineking team – owner Erik Laan and his manager Frank Dudley – to choose wines that will complement the different courses of the meal (diners are asked if they have any special dietary requirements or dislikes when they book their tables).
The evening for Paul and myself was a delight. We sat down, and marveled at how Maxwell was managing to cook for his 15 guests while contained in the corner of the wine shop.
Fergus – our waiter- greeted us with our first tasting of the evening a simply exquisite Perles De Langelier – a light fizz from the Loire Valley.
This, we enjoyed with some morsels of sourdough, baked locally at Chalk Hills Bakery.
The fizz was delightfully crisp, and usually served to accompany dishes such as fruits de mer. It seemed the perfect aperitif prior to our starter – Dorset Crab, with blood orange and Kohl Rabi.
The crab was delicious, and while we tucked in, Fergus arrived with our next glass of wine to taste – a fresh yet spicy rose -Whispering Angel from the Chateau D”Escalans in Provence.
Rather enjoying the Whispering Angel, I noted that the main course was a classic British dish – Roasted Onglet of Beef, White Bean Puree, caramelised shallots served with Taragaon .
Naturally, red wines were decentered for this delicious course. First off, a Mil Peidras, Sangiovese from the Valle de Uco, Argentina – a plumy wine that tasted perfect with the strikingly tender piece beef served up on our plate.
Another heavier red – Etnic , Carignan Grenache from Montsant, Spain also proved a perfect accompaniment – even more so for the selection of British cheeses, which were to follow.
These included Isle of Avalon – a pungent soft cheese from Godstone – and a creamy blue cheese call Blue Monday – created by ex-Blur bass guitarist, Alex Jones.
The icing on the cake to end the evening was a scrumptious Banana and Chocolate Cake with sour vanilla cream and dates. Served with a Chateau Grange Neuve – a sweet wine with a honey smell from Monbazillac in France.
By all accounts it was a reasonably evening out and a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Diners were also offered wines that they had enjoyed throughout the evening at discount prices.
The set menu was £35 per person
The wine menu was £20 per person
Mackenzie’s upcoming Pop-up dates at the VineKing
July 11th and 23rd
Aug 6th and 15th
Sep 5th and 17th
To book a table please visit thevineking.com
or call 01737 221311