Possibly the first time BTNDC had gone back to back, which may have tempered enthusiasm a little, especially with one no show on the night. However having read the menu online earlier in the week when Shaf announced it, we were all rampant rabbits (erm terrible pun there! Apologies!)
Arriving at what seemed to be a central London banking boozer, we discovered eventually the restaurant at the back. Initially met by warm smiles and polite service, we were led to a spacious table, and already we were feeling the busy but friendly vibe of the place. ‘Nice pick’ Shaf.
Most of the BTNDC boys choose restaurants for the leaderboard. Shaf most definitely doesn’t. With plenty of research but never any planning, he picks those that will offer us a new experience. That’ll will broaden our culinary horizons. He doesn’t care how his choice scores so long as we have a good night and have done something different. ‘Spot on’ mate.
At the Jugged Hare, the gastropubs emphasis is thoroughly on seasonal British ingredients. The menu informed us that Wood Pigeon, Rabbit, Mussels, Crab, Queen Scallops, Celeriac, Jerusalem Artichoke, Rhubarb, Kale and Nettles we’re currently “In”. This way of creating a menu might not necessarily allow it to compete against our previous fine dining Michelin starred options, however it gave us ‘food for thought’ (thanks for the line there Bill!)
We were hungry! We needed Nibbles! Solid British Nibbles! Mini Crispy Haggis and potato dumplings, Spiced Goat Scotch Eggs and Black Pudding Croquettes with a Guinness sauce were devoured swiftly and seconds ordered. All highly recommended with the Black Pudding my personal favourite. Not only British but 10/10 thus far!
The wine list was more a akin to one of a good pub than a fine dining establishment. We decided upon a ‘Carafe Flight’. Three good sized offerings without having to have the entire bottle, all from Italy and reasonable priced.
There was also a Coravin option allowing glasses of finer wines to be had without pulling the cork…. In essence enjoying the wine without disturbing the ageing process and leaving it protected from oxygen without having to drink the entire bottle. Hope Father Christmas is reading as I could do with a 8 bottler for home!
Having many ‘fisherman friends’ from Hampshire, I went for the poached River Test Trout to begin. Not what I would normally order but very apt for the night and worth a try…… to a fishy lover then probably very good, to a normal meat eater like me it was just OK.
Surprisingly this early on in the night they had already run out of the Dorset Crab, much to Bill’s angst. Instead he went for the Pigs Cheek, not for the first time on a drunken night out!, but this time he took away some fonder memories…. Served with some Herefordshire (not French!) snails, it was an innovative pleasing alternative.
DC opted for the Suffolk fallow deer, mushroom and pistachio terrine and was not disappointed. Shaf’s Spatchcocked Norfolk Quail stew had an ‘earthy’ essence to it and was also very good.
Mid way through we were still being wooed by the menu so decided to have a portion of Langoustines for the middle of the table to compliment the starters. Presented well, tasted gorgeous, however I feel it worth repeating Bill’s question….. “Who the hell once saw these swimming around and thought I fancy eating one!”
The service continued in a funny and friendly vain, but the night’s potential highlight was when we started the second carafe….. ‘Inversus’ an Oaky 2009 Tuscan offering. Superb.
Completely going for broke I chose the Braised Devonshire kid goat, devilled faggot, chips, kale with a green sauce for main. A virgin eating faggot…. Wouldn’t rush back for more, the goat however was quite superb….. ‘No kidding’ ‘happily give it a GO-AT again’ , ‘wanted more than Billy the Kid!’ (Apologies but there are no bounds to our wit! Ha!) As was the Kale and the hand cut chips. Very glad I tried the dish.
Others tried the roast crown of Yorkshire wood pigeon which seemed like a solid seasonal choice but were a little disappointed with the size of the portion. Not the fault of the restaurant, however maybe it should provide a warning of ‘not the size of our fat little friends in Leicester Square’ …. This might be obvious to some but clearly not all!
The steamed Shetland Mussels were apparently very average and also pretty dry with an apparent lack of sauce.
The debate of trying something different versus getting what you know you’ll like continued. The general consensus was however that we were glad we were there. Maybe next time though go all out for the Whole Suckling piglet (for 4) or or the 1.2kg Longhorn Tomahawk.
The deserts that followed, from the crunchy nut cornflake ice cream, to the Apple & Rhubarb crumble, were all very average to be honest. The crumble was disappointingly served only luke warm. The British cheese platter was decent with some very tasty offerings (Morn Dew from Somerset and Little Black Bomber from Snowdonia), however we all felt that the food was on a slow but steady decline from the initial nibbles.
The night overall was fun and we were all in conclusion that trying a place priding itself on seasonal British fare was well worth it….. We knew it wasn’t fine dining at its best however Shaf had given us the opportunity to try somewhere more economical, whilst still tempting and tingling our tastebuds. Do go, do try it, maybe have several courses of nibbles!
49 Chiswell Street
020 7614 0134