We were graciously invited to tour the new The Marshall Free House (1211 Battleground Ave, Greensboro) and get a tasting of some of their signature items this week. This was our first dinner at The MFH, though we had visited at brunch a few months back. This UK style gastropub has transformed the old …eh–it’s been so many things it’s hard to remember…next to the Carousel Theatre into something truly unique, with an amazing Olde Worlde decor and a seriously cool whiskey bar/laboratory. That’s right, laboratory. We didn’t go for “dranks” but many do and we’ll talk about that in a bit (stay tuned for info about a giveway), but first–the FOOD!
One of The Marshall Free House’s signature items came first, the Scotch Eggs, a boiled egg wrapped in a sausage and then breaded and fried. Have you ever tried them? LOVE Scotch Eggs and these were so scrumptious with a perfectly crispy exterior and the egg was very soft as in, what I like to call “dippy.” So, so yummy. The way they are served they are perfect for sharing. I could make a meal out of them, but they are so decadent, they are mostly suited for sharing. Oh, and the girl kidlet LOVED. I’m already liking this place!
It’s not a British pub experience without some Bangers & Mash. The perfectly cooked sausage with its rich gravy on top of the “mash” (potatoes)—indeedy. Delightful. Total man food!
We also were surprised by a wonderful Shrimp & Grits. Not something you typically think of at a British style pub, but Chef Derek Fontenot is from Louisiana so he’s having some fun with his roots. And let me tell you, mr. foodie says they were the BEST Shrimp & Grits he’s ever eaten. I’d definitely agree they are way up there. There packed with andouille sausage in a very rich, slighly tomato-y, spicy sauce. Old Mill of Guilford grits were perfectly cooked and just soaking up that sauce and getting happy. By now, so were we!
Of course, it’s not a true UK experience without Fish & Chips. One of my favorite things in the whole wide world. And these, these fish and chips…I gotta say, though on the bit of the pricey side for such an entree, are every single bit worth it. Plus it’s huge and you could totally share. Instead of cod, chef is using 10 oz. of Haddock and it’s denser and flaky, a bit more like flounder, and they batter it in Everclear and Stella Artois beer. The exterior is completely adhered to the fish and if you love fish and chips you know that this matters. Whatever is happening with that Everclear and beer is righteously suited for that fish. And..AND! The kidlets ate the fish. I mean, I nearly fell off my chair. Even THEY couldn’t believe they were eating fish. This beautiful entree is served with handcut fries and mashed peas. I’d go back and get just that again and again.
For a taste of something a bit different, we were also introduced to the MFH Chicken Sandwich, but not just any chicken sandwich. This grilled chicken was packed between two buttery crispy pieces of toast and melded together with gouda, prosciutto, roquette, pistachio pesto mayo and its crowning glory–tomato confit–tomatoes cooked all day into this wonderfully rich “jam,” for lack of a better word. Served with chips, of course. A beautiful sandwich and scrumptious.
And you know Shepherd’s Pie at a pub like The Marshall Free House is also a given. This pie is the way it’s supposed to be made. Braised lamb shank, shredded and mixed with veggies like peas then topped with mashed potatoes that have been enhanced with the braised lamb drippings. The fragrance of that dish. Heavenly on a cold day and a very large serving as well. You don’t go home hungry here.
And not to be outdone, Chef Fontenot also brought out what they say is one of the highlights of their menu and we’d have to agree. Pork Cheeks cooked in aromatics like anise and herbs and sitting in a rich gravy on more mashed potatoes. These are hardy people in the UK and they like their taters. Served with asparagus and just warm and tender. If you’ve never had pork cheeks, then you owe it to yourself to try this beautiful aspect of the piggy. My children liked the pork cheeks as well. I’d say we have a winner.
At this point (or 2 entrees ago) you pretty much could’ve rolled me out of there but they didn’t stop there and here comes a beautiful Banana Pudding with a homemade pastry crust, a delicate pudding and fresh whipped cream all made in-house by their pastry chef (as all their desserts are). Loved it and so did the kiddos even though it was not our “southern” banana pudding. And next, Sticky Toffee Pudding. My first ever. I’ve always wanted to try it and not many people make it. It’s rich and just swimming in a caramel sauce and so amazing. The chef also brought out some Chocolate Cake for the kidlets. So nice. Of course, they gorged themselves on that and afterward I believe we were ALL in a near food coma.
Now, I know my blog is not about the bad and the ugly and I have pretty much maintained my goal to only post yumminess here. And I was a guest in their “House,” but seriously nothing that came out of the kitchen wasn’t short of amazing and most of the entrees that came out were dishes that I already really love and some I’ve made at home so we know what we like. And when possible, Chef Fontenot is using local ingredients and you know that makes the foodies happy.
Let’s talk a bit about the decor and the bar. In one area of MFH, you’ll see the pub area…there’s no seating at the high bar, much like a traditional UK pub–the better to mix and mingle. Across from there is the speakeasy style Whiskey Bar stocked with all kinds of liquor, but get this— 160 different whiskeys! And you can’t miss the beautiful laboratory where the magic happens. In this Molecular Mixology Lab, you can see drinks even if you are standing outside. We didn’t really get a chance to partake there (who had room?) but it’s definitely something to consider for a future night out.
A view of the Mixology lab from outside
Chef Derek Fontenot
Our server, Graham
GM, Sean O’Brien
Speaking of, Bar Director Lentz Ison, who was voted BEST Bartender at the Bartender’s Ball, will be holding a cocktail class and pairing dinner on Wednesday, December 3 and I have 2 tickets to give away to this four-course dinner which will feature an amazing menu, cocktails and instructions on how to make house-made bitters, incredible cocktails and all the elements going into each and every drink of the evening. The class is $75 per person so what an awesome opportunity! Just comment below and let me know what your favorite UK-style food or drink is. Good luck!
For more information about The Marshall Free House, click here. Details about the Cocktail Dinner & Class are on the site as well as all their other events and info. Also, check out their sister properties, Pig Pounder Brewery, Burger Warfare and Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill (the one and only, last-remaining and locally-owned of its kind).
And here are some pics of our brunch from a few weeks ago. Also LOTS of winning items on the menu and not to be missed, the Nutella & Bananas Foster Pancakes. Get the table an order and chow down for a sweet complement o their other savory items like Yorkies, Sausage and Eggs. Everyone at least once in the lives should try a “Real English Breakfast,” and if they ever have Welsh Rarebit. Get it, get it!
Know going in that The Marshall Free House has kind of “elevated” the idea of typical pub fare or even “gastropub fare.” It’s considered slightly more upscale and the prices will reflect that. But the attention to detail and the service make it worth it. The items are very sharable and it’s fun to try appetizers and split entrees and that’s just one of the ways we try to make eating local and eating well more budget-friendly. We will definitely be going back. I mean, the microfoodies loved it so, I have to…lest they starve. 🙂
triadfoodies were invited guests of The Marshall Free House for a tour and tasting and the dinner was provided gratis. We were not paid for this review. This blog post is based on our own, honest opinions.