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.

April 2016

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