karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
This month, Ben Pope, head chef at The Punter in Cambridge, and his team are growing moustaches for the men's health charity Movember. To add a little excitement to this, he's also added lamb's testicles to the menu with one pound going to the charity.
Lamb Fries (Movember special)

So this evening I went along to try them. It was the first time I had them and they were really nice (poached, sliced, breaded and then deep fried), served with a herb salad. The texture is not unlike soft liver, very subtle in taste so the well-dressed herb salad and the crunchy breading were definitely needed. As with all offal, there is no reason why anyone should be put off by them.
If you would like to donate to Ben specifically, click here.

As main I had a confit duck leg with puy lentils and curly kale.
Confit duck leg, puy lentils, curly kale

(apologies for the rubbish phone pics)
Wonderfully moist meat, crispy skin, just as it should be. I also loved the use of lentils instead of a starch. This was a very generous portion and had to leave some lentils behind. The food at the Punter might be pricey for a pub but then you get a lot on your plate and the cooking is definitely restaurant level.

After years of mediocre chain restaurant fare (and very few fine dining places), Cambridge is finally getting somewhere with a few pubs where you can get food cooked fresh and with love, not from the common larder like chain pubs do. Apart from The Punter, there's The Old Spring on Chesterton Road and more recently, The First and Last (used to be The Cricketers, across the corner from The Elm Tree) and I'm sure there are few more where I haven't been yet.
karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
This month, Ben Pope, head chef at The Punter in Cambridge, and his team are growing moustaches for the men's health charity Movember. To add a little excitement to this, he's also added lamb's testicles to the menu with one pound going to the charity.
Lamb Fries (Movember special)

So this evening I went along to try them. It was the first time I had them and they were really nice (poached, sliced, breaded and then deep fried), served with a herb salad. The texture is not unlike soft liver, very subtle in taste so the well-dressed herb salad and the crunchy breading were definitely needed. As with all offal, there is no reason why anyone should be put off by them.
If you would like to donate to Ben specifically, click here.

As main I had a confit duck leg with puy lentils and curly kale.
Confit duck leg, puy lentils, curly kale

(apologies for the rubbish phone pics)
Wonderfully moist meat, crispy skin, just as it should be. I also loved the use of lentils instead of a starch. This was a very generous portion and had to leave some lentils behind. The food at the Punter might be pricey for a pub but then you get a lot on your plate and the cooking is definitely restaurant level.

After years of mediocre chain restaurant fare (and very few fine dining places), Cambridge is finally getting somewhere with a few pubs where you can get food cooked fresh and with love, not from the common larder like chain pubs do. Apart from The Punter, there's The Old Spring on Chesterton Road and more recently, The First and Last (used to be The Cricketers, across the corner from The Elm Tree) and I'm sure there are few more where I haven't been yet.

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karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
On Friday I took [personal profile] ginasketch out to Johnnie Mountain's (you might have seen him on The Great British Menu) The English Pig as a belated birthday treat.
I'd booked in advance but I don't think it would have been necessary because when we got there at 6:30, we were the first guests (it filled up later, though). The room is quite big but divided into several sections. As it's held in dark wood throughout and there was only indirect lighting and a short fat candle on each table, it was quite dark. That was probably the only slightly negative aspect of the place as I'd like to see clearly what I'm eating and, if I have a camera, take photos. The latter was impossible without flash.
Our friendly waiter brought us the menu (five choices for each course) and some nice fresh bread with a small bowl of oil and balsamico. Everything looked great but I'd set my mind on trying the slow-roast pork belly, the chef's signature dish so I chose something light as starter, the garlic and chilli prawns.

The English Pig - Chilli & Garlic Prawns

Three large prawns cooked to perfection in aromatic oil. They were shelled but with the tails left on and the heads included for sucking. Full of flavour, slightly sticky with an afterkick of heat, mellowed by the salad leaves. I could easily have eaten a plate of those as a main. It was obviously meant to be eaten by hand as a fingerbowl was provided.

The English Pig - Puy Lentils with Chorizo

[personal profile] ginasketch had the puy lentils with chorizo as starter and she loved the dish.

Then, the main event:
The English Pig - Pork Belly

The pork belly was staggeringly good. The fat was completely rendered, creating a soft, sort of sponge/pumice texture with crispy but not tooth threatingly hard crackling on top. The meat was rich and flavourful and the accompanying mash and red cabbage rounded everything off beautifully. I actually salivated when the first forkful hit my palate. Two minor bits of criticism: For the size of portion a little more sauce would have been good and the crackling could have done with a few more lines of scoring as it was quite hard work to carve off slices. Still, those were miniscule negatives. The dish was definitely among the best pieces of pork I've ever tasted at a restaurant.

My companion's main was the seabass which she didn't stop ooohing and aahing about. :)
The English Pig - Sea Bass


After two generous portions we were quite sated already but decided we would have some pudding after all:

The English Pig - Chocolate Fondant

I went for the chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream. As you can see, the fondant was cooked perfectly, crumbly on the outside with a gooey, molten centre. The ice cream was lovely, too and real (you can see the tiny vanilla seeds).

The English Pig - Chocolate & Amaretti Mousse

This was Gina's chocolate and amaretti mousse which she loved but couldn't finish so I took one for the team. I was glad I had opted for the fondant because it was a touch sweet for me and a bit too firm in texture. I prefer egg-white only mousse with really dark chocolate but that's a personal preference.

All in all, a fantastic meal at - for central London - very reasonable prices. Under 80 pounds for two at three courses and a glass of wine each is, for the quality of food provided, extremely good value for money and you certainly won't leave hungry.

Unreservedly and highly recommended.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Curry)
With access to Newmarket Road now quicker (thanks to the Riverside Bridge) and it being a slow day, I took the luxury of having a proper lunch break today and went to The Wrestlers for some nice King Prawn Panang. The food is still gorgeous but rather pricey now (it was never cheap as pub food goes but now the standard price for a dish is now 9.50). It was also rather quiet, even when I left just before 1 when it used to be packed. The advantage of this was that I had my food in under 10 minutes.
If my workload will let me, I'll be back once a week or at least once a fortnight.

Afterwards I picked up some snacks at Tesco for our restarted Call of Cthulhu campaign tonight (rah, can't wait). I wonder where we'll end up? The villain is dead but there are still some mysteries to unravel and loose ends to tie up. Then again, we don't have the body to prove the villain's dead so who knows?
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Curry)
Last night [livejournal.com profile] evilmattikinz celebrated his birthday at the superb Yim Wah House in Caxton Gibbet. [livejournal.com profile] toripink, Ed, [livejournal.com profile] daevid, [livejournal.com profile] jax_o_lantern, [livejournal.com profile] simonsatori and Adelle were also there.
They've completely refurbished (and I believe extended) the place since the last time I was there ([livejournal.com profile] raggedy_man's birthday several years ago). There's now one huge, open plan dining room, very clean, modern and posh but simple as well as a separate bar with comfy sofas where we waited for the latecomers [livejournal.com profile] toripink and Ed but eventually gave up and found our table.
We had one of the large round tables with a spinning glass serving disc which got filled very quickly indeed when our food arrived. We first had a selection of starters (dumplings, various seafood, frog legs etc.), then crispy aromatic duck as middle course (so good!) and another huge selection of various meats, seafood and veg dishes. My main choice was "Three stir-fried delicacies with ginger and spring onion in edible bird's nest" (prawns, scallops and mussels) which was mild but lovely and aromatic. I also shared some other bits and pieces, [livejournal.com profile] simonsatori's Drunken Fish and the Chicken Cashew being favourites. I passed on dessert as I was quite full and I didn't really fancy any of it.
It's not as good as the Peking in Burleigh St. but better value for money, I'd say (while I still think the Peking prices are worth it) but it's definitely above average, in taste, size of portions, presentation and service. The endless green tea is a nice touch. They literally seem to have vats of the stuff, they even use it to wash the serviing discs with...
Apparently, there was a power cut while we were there so at the end the card machine wasn't working. Good thing everyone had enough cash.

Definitely recommended.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Curry)
Would anyone be interested in joining me for this special meal and wine tasting at the Cafe Adriatic on the 9th of February (Thu)? It's 30 quid incl. wine but knowing their kitchen, it'll be worth it.

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