So, super, special Sunday arrived and my dear readers will have been looking for a new winner – could The Jugged Hare next to the Barbican centre be it?
Recommended to me some years ago by a Scottish woman that I used to work with, The Jugged Hare was one of the founding members of my to-do list – not first of the to-do list, but…second.
Oh what a journey we’ve been on – and no, I don’t mean the exceptionally hungover train journey from Ely to London King’s Cross on Sunday early afternoon. Gosh these segues just write themselves, sometimes, don’t they? Suspiciously so – yes, you can call me deep woke. Semi-deep perhaps.
But what I took away from the whole footballing journey was how much society has actually changed for the better.
I see your eyebrows raised, and yes we saw some really shameful examples of behaviour, from the louts of Leicester Square, to the racist abuse of players, to the violence in and around the stadium, people attempting to steal tickets and break into the stadium. Please don’t read my blog if this is you.
However, 20 years ago, every Pizza Hut in every “levelling up” town would have been smashed up, every Fiat Uno would have been damaged, the front pages of certain newspapers would have been egging on the racism and the hatred of players that missed penalties. It may not feel like it, certainly the journey isn’t complete and we’ve gone a backwards in some respects in recent years, but English society has improved. Hasn’t it? Or was I still pissed when I wrote this?
We’ve still got a fucking long way to go to learn how to make decent roast potatoes, let alone reach a decent standard of moral decency – but I certainly don’t remember an outpouring of support for Gareth Southgate or David Batty for missing penalties years ago. The response to the racist graffiti in Withington wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago either.
Gosh that got a bit serious.
How about a sexy woman in an England top?
Erm. Well just picture her in a leather dress with a whip.
Fine, but it was a great journey over the last few weeks wasn’t it? The disappointing draw with a valiant Scotland (watched at a very fun Boxpark), the clear and easy victory over Germany, the thrashing of Ukraine, the squeezing through against Denmark – and then losing on penalties to the team that really were the best in the tournament.
It almost feels like the ups and downs of trying to find a great roast dinner in London…maybe I should rename myself Gravy Southgate? And I did expect The Jugged Hare to impress.
At when we first met
Apparently The Jugged Hare are “London’s leading game restaurant” – their words not mine – and eating game on this particular Sunday gone would have been appropriate. Alas, they didn’t have game on the Sunday roast menu – you can decide whether that is appropriate or not. Maybe it was a sign?
Game season does seem to be later in the year, so maybe I’ve missed my opportunity for a game roast, though apparently roe deer is sold at this time of year, and that would have been good on a roast.
The Jugged Hare has a classic feel to it, as you might expect from a pub in the city. On your left as you enter, there is a bar area with proper chairs and tables – none of this rescued riff-raff stuff, proper sturdy chairs. To your right is the restaurant area which even in covid times I guess could easily seat 100 or more – plus there were further seating areas downstairs.
Despite it being in about the quietest area of London on a weekend, it was fairly busy. They already have a good reputation, and don’t need semi deep-woke roast bloggers to help.
On the menu was chicken (with stuffing), pork belly and beef rump – all priced at £24.00. I went for the beef, partly because I trusted that they’d know how to do it nicely, and partly because I’d had chicken last week and it feels like I’ve had pork a lot recently.
Our roasts actually came really quite quickly, taking around 10-15 minutes. I’d given up on conversation and was listening to the guy on the next table talk about places he’d had a roast dinner and places he wanted to try, and I was so tempted to tell him about my blog. I really should figure out how to market this one day.
I cannot escape
It arrived presented like this, with both a small pot of kale and a small pot of celeriac/carrot cubes both on the side to share. Yet there is a problem. ENFORCED CONDIMENT.
It’s not like it’s even just on the side of my plate – the horseradish cream was covering a good quarter of the beef.
I did my best at scraping it off, through it meant that I sacrificed my watercress at the same time (oh no). I don’t mind condiments in themselves, but I want to appreciate my roast and the gravy – they just always feel unnecessary to me. Horses for courses but please let me choose my course.
Starting with the carrot and celeriac mix which was fairly heavily herbed – I only ended up with about three cubes of carrot so not much I can say there, but the celeriac had its flavour fully brought out, with a slight tartness to it.
The kale was nice, quite soft.
And I cannot forget
I could forget the roast potatoes – in fact, I half-expected to forget the whole meal through a long night of celebration…that didn’t quite happen despite the Met line’s best attempts to ensure that I didn’t get home.
They looked decent, but one was undercooked inside, one was very tired in a last week kind of feel, and the other was unremarkable. They also looked crispy on the outside, especially my accomplice’s roasties – but they weren’t crispy.
Sweet Yorkshire pudding, ba ba bum. The yorkie was decent, crispy outsides, nicely soggy bottom once the gravy had soaked in.
Beef is coming…noooooooo that’s just way too obvious. And nothing came home anyway, nothing is coming home. But the beef was very nice. Actually pretty excellent. Plenty of it, I think 3 or 4 slices, some of it was notably rare, some of it closer to medium-rare, the silkiness and juiciness of it came through so well and is easily some of the best beef that I’ve had this year. To make beef rump this good, which can maybe not be the most exciting cut – kudos to the chef.
Gravy you’re the one, you still turn me on, yes I’ve still got this fucking song in my head. Gravy actually was the one, this was one of the best gravies that I’ve had this year – probably second best behind The Albany in Twickenham. Thick, smooth, almost creamy feeling yet not with an especially strong flavour, this is proper gravy.
Met line’s not taking me home again
So I was pretty happy with this roast. They got some of the more important things spot on, in terms of the silky beef and the proper northern gravy – though no surprises on the cruddy roasties.
And everything else was broadly decent – service was good except for having my gender confused (I do need a hair cut) – enforced condiment was more offensive though.
I like the venue, I wish they had game for a roast but maybe the logistics of game season don’t support this – so I do have reason to revisit on a non-Sunday at some point.
I’m scoring it a 7.96 out of 10. The roast potatoes just stop me from scoring it over an 8…I just cannot bear to bring myself to give that high a rating without decent roasties. My accomplice scored it an 8.20.
On the off-chance I don’t get a self-isolation notice before Sunday, I’m going somewhere appropriate to celebrate (pass the sick bucket) “Freedom Day”. Let’s just say that the owner isn’t a fan of masks. I might wear one all meal just to annoy him.
By the way, how do I get that fucking Atomic Kitten song out of my head?
The Jugged Hare, Barbican
Tube Lines: Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan Line, National Rail, Thameslink
Fare Zone: Zone 1
Loved & Loathed
Loved: Beef was silky and tender, gravy was proper northern gravy.
Loathed: Roasties were meh, enforced condiment