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Sampling The Momma Bains Range at The Brewhouse in Melbourne Hall Courtyard #Mommabains

Published On Sunday 8 Oct 2023 by Sticky Beak
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Another day, another adventure for The Man Bird and I! This time, we were winging our way over to the beautiful setting of Melbourne Hall’s Courtyard to visit The Brewhouse, courtesy of a kind invite from its owner, Roger Lowe. The occasion was to sample some of #Mommabains dishes, and if you’re thinking “that name sounds familiar”, that’s because this lovely lady is the Mummy of 2 Michelin-starred restaurateur, Mr Sat Bains.

It's no secret that Indian mommas can cook and Mrs Bains is something of a whizz in the kitchen, especially when it comes to her Samosas, Aubergine Roti, Chutneys, and Chickpea Curry. During lockdown, Momma used to feed Sat and his team at Restaurant Sat Bains, and so good were her dishes that her son decided that they needed to be enjoyed further afield than just in his kitchen for the ‘family meal’. Sat and his team have tried and tried (and tried again!) to recreate these morsels, but their best efforts still weren’t coming quite up to scratch. They got Momma in to show them how to make the dishes and then set about trying to figure out how to up-scale it for a mass-market.

Chatting to Sat later, he divulged that it took 7 months to really crack the development of the range. An alcohol-fuelled catch-up with friends was when the project really ‘got its legs’, such as making decisions about where to launch it, where to develop the product on a large-scale, and which dishes to use. The rest, as they say, is history, and His Nibs and I were looking forward to trying the fruits of the teams’ labour.

Luck had been on our side as we’d bagged a spot to park that was only a minutes’ walk away from the Courtyard, and it was still on our side as we grabbed a perfect spot inside The Brewhouse at one of the coopered barrel tables and milk stool-type seats – mine was saddle shaped. As is often the case, this venue has seen a few changes in its 300-year history!

Originally the building was the Brew House for Melbourne Hall, then it was repurposed as stables in 1905 (very much evident today in the cobbled floors and portioned stalls) before Roger and his team began to use it as The Brewhouse again. Fans of real ales will rejoice in the range of ales, lagers and IPAs on offer at the taproom which is open 7-days-a-week until 9pm, and if you fancy a nibble with your tipple, you can indulge Wednesday-Sundays until 8pm. His Nibs is a bit more conservative in his beverage choice, so he had a pint of a German Lager, Flensburger, and I had a glass of NZ Sauvignon Blanc.

As well as Pizzas and Sharing Boards, The Brewhouse are proud to offer the range of home-style Punjabi dishes from #Mommabains, joining a select few venues that do so. If you travel further afield, you may see the treats at Cromer in Norfolk (No.1 Chippy), various [Rick]Stein venues in Cornwall – headed up by Rick’s son, Jack – and at award-winning chippy The Cod’s Scallops at West Bridgford, Sherwood, Long Eaton and Wollaton in Nottinghamshire and Harborne in Birmingham. The #Mommabains range is also available from the Sat Bains website and the #Mommabains truck.

We’d been people watching from our spot inside and the courtyard was teeming with people already tucking into their #Mommabains morsels; the weather was playing ball by being dry, if more than bit humid, and sunshine peeked through occasionally. Yep, life was feeling mighty fine on the first day of October. Just as our food arrived (and I was digging in with my fingers, as I couldn’t wait 30 seconds for cutlery, y’know!!) Sat arrived at our table and sat down. Now, I’ve been brought up to shake hands and introduce myself and thankfully I’d only used my left hand to pick at the food – you can imagine how mortified I was though, to be caught on-the-hop as I offered my right hand! Good job I frequently laugh at my own ridiculousness and, bless him, Sat was very gracious and cracked a joke to banish any awkwardness; now that’s a gentleman.

I’m not a journo and I didn’t have a list of questions (some did!), but I got a great insight into this extremely talented Chef and family man over our relaxed, informal chat. Many people I know have dined at RSB in Nottingham, and the over-riding opinion is just what a genuine chap Sat is, and I have to agree whole-heartedly. 

Just as lovely is Momma Bains herself, who was also at this event, and I got to witness a wonderful moment where she reconnected with one of her old workmates – the affection between them was clear and they were laughing about shared memories.
Anyhow, let me tell you about the Veggie Samosas (£14) …apart from being surprisingly large - always a winner with us! - they are also made (by hand no less!) pretty blooming speedily. Currently, the fastest maker is Sat’s Head Chef/Momma Bains Ltd. director, John Freeman, who can make 4 Samosas per minute! Yep, you read that right; 4 Samosas fully done in a single minute! The rest of the team can do 3 per minute, which is still mind-bogglingly fast to me: at my last attempt at Samosa making, I think I did one every two minutes!

One of the best things about these #Mommabains minxes is a super-crisp outer that elicits a beautiful sound when you bite into them, followed by a multi-layered taste explosion that comes from the surprisingly soft filling inside. Sat was telling us that no two batches of Samosas are ever the same, so you could eat infinite amounts and get a different experience – sounds ruddy fab, if you ask me! Apparently, it’s down to the climate affecting the chemical profile of each ingredient (the Capsaicin in Chillies, for example) that largely influences this variation, but the way each person makes the Samosa also plays a part, too. Accompanying each pair of Samosas on the serving board was a pot of Chickpea Curry (Sholay) and some intensely flavoursome Tamarind Chutney; a gentle drizzle of cooling yoghurt and side salad completed the dish, all of which was ridiculously scrummy.

Another cornerstone of the #Mommabains range is an Indian Flatbread (Roti), served hot, and topped with a softened Aubergine mixture (£12) that will win over even the most sceptical vegetable eater. Contrasting with the warmed elements of this dish was a finely chopped, cold Salsa that contained Tomato, Onion, Chilli, Coriander along with seasonings, and this was wonderfully bright and clean in the mouth.

Dirty Fries are enjoying huge popularity at the moment, appearing on plenty of menus that I’ve seen, and the #Mommabains team do an amazing interpretation: a classier one, obviously and one that packs in all the tastes of the Punjab region. I’ve always said that quality of ingredients has to be at the foundation of any good dish; as my Nana used to say, “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, however good a seamstress you are” and it’s the same with food: if you haven’t got top-notch ingredients, however skilled you are, the dish won’t be exceptional.

As soon as His Nibs and I had the first taste of the Keema Lamb we were grinning in delight at the myriad flavours that bathed our palates: sweet, earthy, spiced and fragrant tones all enveloped our mouths. Crisp fries provided a nice textural crunch to this dish, picked up and enhanced again by the colourful, flavour-packed Punjabi Salsa. Yup, the Keema Fries (£14) had completed a hat-trick of yumminess at The Brewhouse in Melbourne Halls’ Courtyard, that was for sure!

What I liked was the flexibility of these dishes; you could easily have a single item and feel satisfied, or enjoy them as a trio (as we had done) for a sharing meal with friends or a loved one. Each of the dishes in the #Mommabains offering had a completely different flavour profile: where the Keema Fries were rich and sweet, the Chickpea Curry was sharper, and the Aubergine Sabji was laden with fragrant spices, revealing a hint of heat at the finish.

The combination of quality food, tipples, and a stunning setting is a winner, in my opinion, so why not visit The Brewhouse at Melbourne Hall Courtyard and savour some for yourself? There’s also a lovely variety of retail units within the courtyard; perfect for some lazy browsing, too, whilst you’re there.

Hot Wings happily awarded to The Brewhouse, and thank you again to Roger, for the kind invitation; we had a wonderful afternoon.

To order craft ales online from The Brewhouse (and view the food menu) visit www.stableales.co.uk or phone 01332 987374. For more information, and latest booking availability (restaurant and accommodation) at Sat’s venue, visit www.restaurantsatbains.com

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