The French are known for their haute cuisine, few will argue against that. I recall reading as a kid about Parisian's rage when McDonald's first opened up in the city synonymous to romance and fine dining. If I am to feast on my char kuay teow while a French man tucks into his les canard aux orange, surely we must belong to two extreme ends of the food chain if it comes to that.
That was what I thought before I met R and G. Over lunch one day, I asked R what his favourite dish is. Fully expecting some French dish with a barely pronounceable name, I nearly choked on my chips when he uttered,"burger". In case you're wondering, we are talking about a straight French man who wears colour coordinated sweater, shirt, pants and possibly socks and shoes to the office.
G, was not much better in that respect. When asked where's a good place for breakfast, he pointed me to The Breakfast Club. "Have you seen their portions? They're huge!" he exclaimed. It's heartening to know that the French (at least the two I encountered) aren't too different from folks back home when it comes to food.
Just the other day, G was ranting about this "hard pastry" that he came across with absolutely nothing in it. "What's the point then?" he asked me. It took me a few agonising moments to realise that he was to the Yorkshire pudding. "There's a hole in the middle and there's nothing in it, what’s the point?" he exclaimed in exasperation.
I'm sure he would be pleased with the Sunday roast at The Pig and Butcher then, which occupies the now defunct Islington Tap. At the first glance, it's nothing but a huge Yorkshire pudding. None of those soft frozen offerings pumped with preservatives from supermarkets. This is the real deal - big, deformed, homemade. And very much burnt. None of my frantic scooping of the already paltry gravy into its hollow helped. It was beyond redemption.
But redemption did come - in the form of the roast leg of organic Kentish lamb carefully camouflaged under the Yorkshire pudding. As if to make up for the dry pudding, the lamb was almost raw. Fine, I exaggerated. The piece of meat was plumb, juicy and almost, well, bouncy. In fact, I could almost picture the lamb bouncing around in the meadows. The mint sauce at The Pig and Butcher could hardly be compared to the one at Bistrot Bruno Loubet, which sadly has ceased to serve it since my first visit. Even then, I had to ask for the sauce platter (balanced precariously by a really friendly waitress) twice as I could only be spared a tiny spoonful each time round.
Perhaps that one good thing about having ordered two roasts (Wife had the beef) is that the vegetables are served seperately. Greens, carrots and cauliflower (with cream no less) were laid out nicely instead of being meshed up with the gravy. With the sun out in force that early afternoon, the sight of untainted sides cheered me up quite a bit.
A bonus would be that The Pig and Butcher offers free wifi. By that, I mean it's really free, not BTOpenZone, which requires you to have a seperate subscription. At £15.50 per pop, the Sunday roast pricing at The Pig and Butcher fits right in the gourmet pub category alongside The House Pub further north along Canonbury Road. But hey, its utensils come wrapped in cloth napkins, so yep, the price is about right.
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London Life December 2013: Food by Luiz Hara
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