Monday 24 May 2010

Pigging Out At The Drapers Arms

I firmly believe that pork is the king of all meats. It was with much excitement that I groggily made my way to The Drapers Arms, a lovely gastropub in the backstreets of leafy Islington. I had just completed a gruelling 30 hour journey from Nicaragua and I was in desperate need of some replenishing food.

The menu boasted five courses of porky goodness. First out was the smoked ham hock and pig's head terrine with toast and picallili. A coarse, jellied terrine was stuffed with flecks of herb, meaty jelly and chunks of pork. I long ago knew that I wanted to marry whoever's genius hand was behind the pickle-making here, and the picallili, crunchy and tart, was a delight.

Next up, a dandelion, black pudding and shallot salad was topped off with soft boiled eggs. The black pudding here was the softest I've had and it luxuriated upon the leaves nicely. Why aren't dandelion leaves more widely available? Robust, intense and bitter, I first tried it pulled out of the ground at Riverford Organic Farm. I love bitter foods and the silky egg yolk tempered the greenery nicely.

A course of simply sliced gammon was slightly on the dry side, though enlivened with yet more wonderful pickles; gherkins, beetroot and turnip.

The next course was one of my favourites - salt pork belly stew with white beans and watercress. Comforting, moreish and homely, the studs of pork were tender and slightly fatty, coating the mouth nicely.

Roast loin of pork came out next, accompanied by this crunchy and vivid beetroot, celeriac and apple salad; just the right hint of sweetness and earthiness that married together with the pork nicely, without having to resort to the usual apple sauce.

Crispy crunchy crackling and juice slices of meat were simplicity itself, but it showed that you don't have to do much to a good piece of meat.

The advertised rhubarb sorbet was garnished with angry blood red oranges that tartened up the dessert and yet managed to stay creamy. After those courses of rich pig meat this was a welcome and palate cleansing end to the meal.

I waddled off home, pleased as punch to have been fed so well after having spent two weeks existing on rice and beans. This was a one-off event, (follow them on Twitter to hear about upcoming ones) but it showed off some obvious skill in the kitchen and I'd gladly eat there again.

The Drapers Arms

44 Barnsbury St
London N1 1ER

Tel: 0207 619 0348

Drapers Arms on Urbanspoon

I dined here as a guest of Nick's, one of the co-owners. As you've seen, I like to make bets. He lost, and I won a complimentary seat.


Dave said...

So many times I've tried to eat at the drapers arms, but alas I've failed. Must make a more concerted effort from now on.
I love terrines, could live off them ....
Yes this must have seen like heaven after many days of rice n beans in Central America .... Hope you enjoyed it, it's a beautiful country...

PDH said...

That Brawn looks fantastic, pure heacven when done well and that looks perfect.

The Grubworm said...

Black pudding, soft boiled eggs and dandelin leaves - what a great combo of finely balanced and contrasting flavours. Creamy, rich/meaty and bitter. Yum.

I love the sound of the terrine too, but most of all, i now want to try the pickles. Pickle making is an under-rated skill.

Hollow Legs said...

Dave - why the failures, Dave? I also love terrines, I must try making my own soon. It was the perfect antidote to the food I was living on previously!

Paul - It was very delicious.

The Grubworm - you know, I've never tried making my own pickles. I really should give it a go.

The Pub Diaries said...

Tried to eat at Drapers Arms but got there at 16:00, to be told that I had missed out on food by seconds... most annoying as I was famished... even more annoying when I look at the pics, and well dribble

Luiz Hara said...

Love The Drapers Arms, it is one of my locals. It is one of the few pubs in Islington which are dog friendly so I tend to go there a lot with my dogs. The food is also great, and I am pleased you had a good time there.

Luiz @ The London Foodie

Unknown said...

Wow what a pig feast it sounds fantastic - I like the line "the rhubarb sorbet was garnished with angry blood red oranges" I often think blood oranges are a bit scary/angry/sinister!

Helen said...

Looks absolutely gorgeous!I also believe that the swine is king, as you know. That pork belly stew! Phwoar.

Greedy Diva said...

Sounds fantastic. And, coincidentally, I just saw Marina O'L just gave it a good review yesterday too.

plasterers bristol said...

this sounds and looks amazing, definitely going to give this ago, thanks for sharing.