Search
Food corner

"Significantly, the charge (if it is a charge) has been levelled at the gastronomic essay and the 'learned' cookery book that they have an affinity with pornography. Certainly, both gastronomy and pornography dwell on pleasures of the flesh, and in gastronomic literature as in pornography there is vicarious enjoyment to be had." 

Stephen Mennell

Twitter feed
Tags
Alicante all spice almond anchovy apple Argentina artichokes asparagus aubergine bacon banana basil beef beetroot berry biscuit bistro Bolivia bread British budget Buenos Aires bulgar wheat butter cafe cake capers cardamom cheese chick peas chicken chicory chilli chocolate chorizo Christmas cinnamon clams cloves cocoa coconut Córdoba coriander cornflakes courgette flowers crayfish cream cream cheese creme fraiche cucumber culinary catastrophe cumin Dalmatia delivery dill dips Dubrovnik easy Edinburgh egg eggplant fennel feta fettuccine fine dining Finsbury Park fish fish sauce five spice flour food anthropology French game garlic gastropub gherkin ginger gluten free goat's cheese golden syrup Guinness halloumi ham harissa hazelnut hibiscus horseradish Islington Italian jam Japanese Kent ketchup Korean lamb leek lemon lemongrass lentils lime London Madrid market mascarpone Mayfair Mendoza milk mint mirin morcilla mozzarella mushroom mussels mustard Nahm New Zealand noras oats olive olive oil onion orange Oxfordshire paprika Paris parsley party pastry peanut pear peas pepper Peru pine nuts pizza pomegranate pop-ups pork potato prawn prosciutto Provence providore Puerto Iguazú pulse pumpkin quail egg quick ras el hanout raspberries restaurant ribs rocket rosemary saffron sausage shallot smoked mackerel smoked salmon soy spaghetti spinach squid stilton stock street food sugar sumac supper club Sydney syrup Tabasco tagliatelle tahini take away tamarind tarragon tart Thai thyme tom yum paste tomato tuna versatile Vietnamese vinegar walnut water chestnut white pepper wine yoghurt
« My restaurant recommendations: Central London | Main | Angels with Bagpipes »
Wednesday
May022012

Spring menu launch at Public House

In January I went to Public House in Islington for the first time. I was there on a deal from Top Table: 2 courses for £10 off the a la carte menu, a deal I thought too good to be true. But it was true and it was good. Very good indeed.

I got invited back to the launch of the new spring menu last night. This time the food wasn’t just good value – it was free.

A free dinner for me and a friend, nice. I took my friend, Jen, as she was the one who recommended Public House to me in the first place.

The chef had selected three starters, three mains and a dessert to showcase the spring menu and each table was given a few of each dish to share amongst themselves. This presented a slight problem at first since the other end of the table had two dishes between six and we somehow ended up having to share one between five. This was made more difficult by the fact that two of the five (a) did not like talking to strangers, (b) did not like sharing with strangers, and (c) did not seem to like each other very much either. Thankfully for us, it all became too much for them and they left after the second starter, after which we were three, me, Jen and a fellow foodie called John who was writing a review for London Larder. 

The first starter, and my favourite, was fillet of rainbow trout and slow-cooked fennel with crayfish sauce and preserved lemon. The crayfish sauce was a creamy bisque, and one of the best I’ve had. It had the essence of shellfish without being rich and overpowering, some light aromatics and a touch of cream making for a soft and delicate finish. One of those aromatics was fennel, also the accompanying veg; a nice way to bring together different elements of the dish and a good choice regardless since fish always goes well with veg and herbs from that family.

Spring salad of baby spinach, beetroot, goat’s cheese and walnut with a poached free range hen’s egg sounded pretentious but was humble and unassuming. Beetroot and goat’s cheese is always a winning combination and worked particularly well with the walnuts. I wasn’t entirely convinced that the egg, hen’s or otherwise, was necessary since the dish would have worked perfectly well without it, but it didn’t do any harm either and it looked nice perched on top.

Best dish was a toss up between rainbow trout and shoulder of lamb with pea puree and broad beans, which John dubbed the ‘man’s starter’. But Jen and I loved it two, disproving his theory, and with our new arrangement of three to a dish we had wolfed it down in a matter of seconds. The lamb was meltingly tender, rich and gamey, more winter than spring, but the pea puree and broad beans lent a spring element.

Starters are almost always the highlight for me, and as usual I found the mains less interesting. This may also have been partly to do with the fact that one of the mains was chicken, which I would never order. It was poached breast of corn-fed chicken and came with grilled courgette and a red pepper and orange sauce. The sauce was slightly spicy, sweet and tangy and paired well with the other Mediterranean flavours; we just wished there was more of it.

Same goes for the gravy that accompanied the fillet of Gloucester ‘Old Spot’ pork, wild garlic mash, sprouting broccoli and apple jelly, in this case because the meat was not as tender as it could have been; they had a lot of people to serve at once so I imagine it would have been better on a normal night. The apple jelly was, in fact, actual jelly – by which I mean the type you might put with ice cream – which I thought was a fun and novel idea.

My favourite main was the pan fried fillet of gilt head bream, spring greens, aubergine puree and warm cherry tomato dressing. The bream was perfectly cooked with tender flesh and a crisp skin and worked well with the creamy aubergine puree, which had been seasoned with roast garlic and lemon. My first thought was that some Middle Eastern spices would have worked well in the puree, but that was before I tried the tomato dressing, which was actually more like a salsa, tangy and zesty. It gave the dish the oomph I was looking for.

Jen and I are not ‘dessert people’ and neither of us would have chosen the lemon and lime posset with pineapple salsa. Lucky then that you get what you are given at a tasting, because we both agreed that it was delicious. It had a good balance of sweet and tart and it did not feel heavy, despite the fact that it was very creamy. The pineapple added a nice textural contrast and gave another dimension to the sweet and sour balance of flavours.

Service was exceptionally friendly and smooth given the type of event they were catering. The hosts were particularly keen to get feedback on the dishes at the end of the night and it was nice to feel that they valued our opinions.

Last time I recommended Public House on account of the amazing value. I still hold that Public House is great value, with or without a deal, but it is more than that. I had some minor criticisms here and there, but they were just that – minor and they do not take away from the fact that the experience as a whole – food, service, wine, venue, ambience – is very good and reliably so.

I’ll be back again. Soon.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (2)

I love that you were invited to a sample menu dinner! The first of many I hope.
I was already feeling bad about the incredibly lazy day I have had, coupled with the seriously uninspired 4 pieces of cheese on toast I have consumed in the last hour...Now reading this (with a full cheesy belly) I wonder why I didn't get to eat a delicious array of warming comfort food...for free?! I need to get my blog on!
xx

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Brown

Hi Cha, so do I!!! Was great! And I am going back for the wine tasting in 2 weeks - free booze, brilliant! ;) x

May 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterVix

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>