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ETM Group Chefs In Action at the Jugged Hare – the Battle of the Pans:
I’ve been to a few of the ETM group restaurants recently. Scattered across London, it might be hard to guess they were from the same ‘family’ if you didn’t know. So I was thrilled to be asked along to the Battles of the Pans at the Jugged Hare in which Chefs from the group battled it out for votes from the diners. A stone’s throw from the Barbican, I’ve never visited the Jugged Hare game restaurant in the City before, though I’ve peered through the window on my way to the theatre on many an occasion.
There was already something of a party atmosphere in the private dining room of the Jugged Hare when we arrived- probably helped along by copious bottles of wine on show…and the liberal glasses of fizz on offer
Getting into the spirit of the evening we all sat down to enjoy a stellar menu starting with Richard O’Connell from the Jugged Hare itself who had prepared Salted Cumbrian ox tongue, glazed sweetbreads, Alexander purée and pickled shallots. Sweetbreads are sometimes a little chewy, but these were perfectly prepared and cooked.
The intriguing ‘pan fried fillet of Cornish red mullet with octopus carpaccio, fennel and bergamot’ was a picture on a plate. It sounded as if it could be a little over complicated but actually the flavours worked really well together.
But then so did the next dish from Nic Blanc of the Botanist – Roast fillet of wild Scottish halibut with Kennet crayfish and shallots, and bisque veloute.
I supposed I showed my true carnivorous colours by casting MY vote for the Roast loin of Herdwick lamb from Quinton Bennett at The Gun best. Served with a whole mixture of nice things, the lamb itself was perfectly pink and tender
And then there was just a little more in the form of Lancashire Black Bomb, raisin toast, truffle honey
Throughout the meal, each course was served with matched wines. And at the end we all voted, scoring the Halibut from the Botanist the top dish of the night. Though to be honest, it was a close call.
Now, for me what made this event special was not just the food but the overall atmosphere. It could so easily have been awkward and stilted. So much food, so many people who have never met. But, the reality was that as we poured ourselves out of the Gun at around half past eleven, we couldn’t believe how long we’d been there. Time had flown by, conversation was easy and I defy anyone to say they hadn’t enjoyed themselves.
As it happens I was there as a guest of the Jugged Hare but with ticket prices at £65 including all wines matched throughout the dinner, it seems like something of a bargain. So I asked what else they had coming up and was given a diary of monthly suppers on Wednesdays throughout the year.
Wednesday 21st May – English wine and Asparagus
Wednesday 25th June – Ayrshire veal and fine wine evening
Wednesday 16th July – Wild Scottish Salmon and Reisling wines
Wednesday 20th August – ‘Eat like a pig’ and Alsace wines
Wednesday 24th September – White Park beef and wine evening
Friday 31st October – Halloween inspired menu
Wednesday 12th and 19th November – Game and Bordeaux evening
For more about the evenings check out the Jugged Hare website
London EC1Y 4SA