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By JON DEAN
Monday, May 28, 2012
For those who don’t know, Jugged Hare is an archaic British dish in which a whole hare is cut into bits, then marinted and cooked in a tall jug.
And it is very much this traditonal style of cooking that informs the menu and ethos of the newish pub restaurant of the same name.
Stuffed animals look down on you from every wall, and as you descend to the dining room the building’s history as an old brewery is evident in the arched, white-tiled ceiling, industrial- looking light fittings and copper pipes dotted around the place.
The menu is very meaty and gamey, and it is probably not the restaurant of choice for vegetarians.
One section of the carte is devoted to spit-roasted flesh, another to the thrill of the grill, a third to fish and the last to medieval style dishes like pigeon and braised rabbit.
The Jugged Hare, 49, Chiswell Street, EC1Y 4SA Tube: Barbican Tel: 020 7614 0134 Web: www.thejuggedhare.com Mains: from £13 Wine: from £12.50 a bottle Children: Yes Disabled access: Yes.
We began with a medley of brown and white crab with mayonnaise and toast, which was light and satisfying.
Alongside this we tucked into sautéed chicken livers and a fried pheasant egg – an altogether richer proposition, but none the less pleasant for it.
Despite the rotisserie and grilled meat looking incredibly tempting, we decided to go for something more synonymous with the place – a pot roast quail with bacon, mushrooms and potatoes. Like many of the dishes, it was served in it’s own very attractive eathernware vessel from which you serve yourself.
The whole quails were tender, and had a much more complex flavour than chicken. With the smokey bacon and toothsome broth they made for an excellent winter warmer – very apt for the thus far inclement summer.
Across the table, my guest had the monkfish, which had intriguingly been started on the spit, before being transferred to the oven.
The flesh was cooked to flakey excellence and the sauce was a luxurious caviar butter, which was very good but a strong constitution was required to finish the whole thing, such was it’s creaminess.
We had cabbage and bacon and garlicky parsnip gratin on the side, both of which found themselves the object of my affection.
Replete though we were, there was still room for some honey ice cream and lemon junket – the latter a delicate palate cleanser and the former an indulgent sweet.
Also worthy of note is the house red, which is blended by the owners on their frequent visits to Langudoc in France. At £18 a bottle, it was very good indeed.
The Jugged Hare has an intriguing blend of old-fashioned meals with a modern approach to cooking, presentation and flavour. And while it is slightly more expensive than you average gastropub it is also different and definitely a cut above.