Taxidermy, bone marrow, faggots, junket and traditional sherries from family producers… Yes, there are many traditional elements to The Jugged Hare, the latest addition to the ETM restaurant group. But new City pub also offers the group’s most ambitious wine list to date, so I was curious to give it a try.
Our visit, last Friday evening, got off to a good start. Having settled comfortably on a couple of bar stools in the lively bar area, we soon clapped eyes on a couple of sherries at the bottom of the wine list and a style to suit each of us. I chose the excellent bone dry Fino from Guitérrez Colosia (£3.30/75cl) while my partner, who prefers richer sherries, enjoyed the elegant, nutty ‘Gobernador Oloroso’ from Emilio Hidalgo (£4/75cl). Both were well chilled, just as these styles should be.
We moved through to the bistro-style dining area which features an eight-spit rotisserie for the preparation of many of the dishes on the menu; meat and game are sourced from rare breed and artisan producers while fish is selected daily from Billingsgate market.
After some deliberation – the menu is extensive – I chose a warm starter of Dorset crab claws (£12) while my partner opted for the air dried Welsh ham and celeriac (£8.50). Turning to the wine list, our waiter was keen for us to try a flight of German Rieslings featuring three different producers but somehow, after sherry, the moment wasn’t quite right. However, a glass of white from the northern Rhône – Domaine Courbis, Saint Joseph Blanc 2009 (£12) – was a mouth-watering prospect. A more complex and structured white such as this, which is a blend of the two Rhône grapes Marsanne and Roussanne, would be a good match for the crab, I hoped.
The buttery crab claws arrived piled high on a small cast iron plate and I got to work. They were meaty and delicious and the silky richness of the Domaine Courbis white complemented them perfectly – this was the most exciting food and wine match that I’d come across for some time. It was probably also the most indulgent and one glass was just right (thanks to the use of dispensing machines a selection of fine wines are available by the glass or carafe in prime condition).
Meanwhile my partner was also enjoying his ham and celeriac starter, with some envious glances my way.
For the main dish, meat seemed to be the way to go and the Chateaubriand steak, for two to share, had tempted us both (600g/£55).
A bottle of Pinot Noir, Sokol Blosser, Delinea 300, 2009 (£38), which hails from Oregon in the USA, was our choice for the main. A medium-bodied red, it proved to be a good choice for a warm evening and for the generous slices of meat, cooked slightly pink as requested with béarnaise sauce or rotisserie gravy to accompany it.
Dessert was tempting, but the two courses we chose were more than sufficient. I would have been tempted by the sea-buckthorn junket and a dessert wine. There’s plenty more to look forward to next time.
The Jugged Hare, 49 Chiswell Street, London EC1Y 4SA
020 7614 0134; www.thejuggedhare.com
ETM Group: www.etmgroup.co.uk