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Monday 7 April 2014

Hill and Szrok - The Dove - President's Bar

Guest Post from Jane - Broadway Market is seeing something of an explosion in great places to eat and drink. New-comers include Peters & Co Gin Palace and Franco Manca, and The Cat & Mutton is close to reopening with food from Licky Chops & upstairs cocktails bar Pearl's from the guys at Ruby's.  The awkward journey for someone situated south of the river means I rarely venture up in that direction, but the recent opening of Hill & Szrok, a new butchers-come-restaurant, provided a good enough reason to jump on the ginger line and take a wander through the back streets of East London.

Offering raw meat by day and braised, roasted and potted meat by night, Hill and Szrok is a great addition to Broadway Market. Its clean and shiny tiled interior is hung with butcher shop instruments and a great wooden butcher's block table sits in the centre, serving as a communal dining table in the evening.

On arrival early one evening last week I met an instant convert - the friendly gentlemen sitting next to me soon informed me that he'd been in the night before with his wife for a ribeye steak and it was so good he couldn't keep away the next. Three courses later, we were inclined to agree.

We started with the H&S pate, pickled red onion and toast alongside roast broccoli, fennel, Cornish yarg and almonds. The pate was a coarse and substantial pot of meaty goodness, and sat nicely alongside the tart pickled red onion. The broccoli was a light and tangy reminder that spring is finally with us.

Meat unsurprisingly takes centre stage for the mains. We reluctantly sidestepped the pork chop and Hamroc Sausages (though individually priced at £2, it’s difficult to resist adding one to whatever else you order) and instead opted for the Murray Grey ribeye at £14.50 and the braised leg of mutton cut beef shoulder at £9.50. As you would expect from a butcher, the meat was tender and rich in flavor, with a fiery kick of black pepper working nicely with the accompanying lemon and pepper horseradish. 

A side of the seemingly fashionable oak leaf lacked any real excitement, but was a useful foil to the richness of the braised beef and midnight potatoes. 

A dessert of thick cream with stewed apples and cinnamon came in a small jar and was a light, fresh way to end an excellent meal. 

Paired with a lively, yet friendly, local atmosphere - many had been turned away by the time we left - this place is a gem for any carnivore looking for simple, tasty cooking of excellent produce.

As Hill and Szrok hadn't quite got their licence when we visited, we followed up our meal with a quick visit to The Dove, a couple of minutes stroll along Broadway Market. The place is cavernous inside with a welcoming wooden interior and an enticing menu of Belgian and British classics. A glass of Delirium Tremens is always difficult to resist when offered on draught, but it was only after ordering that we discovered the tome of Belgian beers that The Dove is known for. It’s easy to forget about the joys of Trappist brewing in these heady days of the London craft beer scene, but after being re-acquainted with the famous pink elephant, we made a mental note to revisit the other Flemish masters sometime soon.

Of a somewhat different character, I also managed to nip into President's Bar above the new Benito's Hat on Leadenhall Street this week. Straight past the burrito counter and up a few stairs the bar is (barely) hidden and while quite prettily decorated, it struggles to really distinguish itself from the restaurant downstairs. The Margaritas are well-made and affordable (starting from £5.00) but probably only worth the effort as part of a quick taco stop to refuel before heading somewhere more interesting. 

For those who are following my week on week whisky adventures (most recently Whisky Live), I have made a few trips to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society recently. I am always impressed; this place offers a tremendous whisky selection of bottles from individual casks at cask strength. The bottles have no distillery name on them only a mysterious number and an eloquent, if slightly unbelievable, description such as no.3.202 'doctor's surgeries and flower shops': 

"The aromatic nose displayed geranium, bog myrtle, aromatherapy oil, soy sauce, lavender and clove – but also bacon, lobster bisque, smoked chicken, seaweed, honey, doctors’ surgeries and flower shops. The neat palate was huge, mouth-filling and long-lasting, with a heavenly flavour combination of scorched heather sprigs dipped in honey, caramelized onions, charcoal, chutney and smoked fish. The reduced nose was hijacked by caraway seeds – gripe water, Kummel, salami with caraway, rye bread and stir-fried Chinese greens with soy sauce. The palate became sweeter – sugar-coated pistachios and sweet barbecued ribs with echoes of salted sea biscuits, lavender and tar."

Unfortunately this place is members only but each member is allowed to take up to three guests.

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