For the sake of my health I should probably eat more vegetarian food, especially when I'm eating out. But you wouldn't choose the vegetarian option - if there is one - when visiting a place which prides itself on the quality and sometimes quantity of its meat - and those are the places I seem to visit most frequently. As a consequence, I'm resigned to eating a pea risotto at home to compensate for the steak I ate out the night before. Tonight though, friends are coming and I can't serve them a pea risotto. We're having cottage pie, so the circumvention of the vegetarianism continues.
The Pig and Butcher was never going to be the place where I forced myself to choose veggie. A gastro pub that butchers its own meat may as well remove both brackets and the 'v' from the keyboard. I had venison.
Writing this now as the rain washes copies of the Evening Standard along the gutter, it's hard to believe that I graced the doors of The Pig and Butcher in a sweat stained shirt only a week ago. The humming air conditioning in the bar - a strange sight for a pub, granted - was very welcome. So hot was the weather that I had to start with tap water before moving on to a pint of London Fields' Love Not War (4.2%).
Unfortunately, I couldn't tempt my friends to sit and watch me get corn on the cob stuck between my teeth, so we started with the main course. The venison was so pink, so moist, so tender, piled so high, and still so warm that I neglected to remember anything that accompanied it bar the buttered onion and sliced beetroot. The others had a mix of pork belly and lamb dishes, both of which looked the equal of the venison.
The pudding, however, was a different matter entirely. A real disappointment, and it pains me to say this as I liked everything else about The Pig & Butcher: the bright yet rustic decor, the friendly staff, and the bread served with butter and dripping (two of my favourite fats). Between us we had five banana sticky toffee puddings, served with clotted cream, and each to a man agreed that it was a) too dry, and b) tasted sour, as if something within the pudding was well past it's best. It wasn't the cream - I ate all of that to make sure - and I can't put my finger on what it could have been. Perhaps very old bananas? I still haven't worked it out, although as a paying dinner I don't think I should be the one to solve this conundrum.
I will be back and providing it's on the menu, I will give the pudding a second chance. The place deserves that for serving what was, almost, a perfect meal.