Charcuterie at The Bull and Last

image

Charcuterie platters. They’re like tapas, right, but where you don’t get any choice, and they just serve you meat and, unless you’re very unlucky, a few chutneys and/or pickles? Actually, this is as much the reason why I tend to have a good time when I order these as why I never do so: because you get a whopping pile of tasty, salty, fatty meat, in a whole variety of guises. So I dove into the opportunity to head to Highgate (gastro-) pub The Bull and Last, visiting with Rachael and my parents.

“My theory was that watermelon pickle wouldn’t work”

The wooden board at The Bull and Last held products from a wider range of animals than you’d normally expect from a typically pig-heavy cuisine. Instead of the usual ham and chorizo and more ham offering, we found duck prosciutto – thin, delicately dried strips that genuinely sat somewhere between duck breast and bacon; chicken liver parfait (okay, it’s never going to be my favourite, but it certainly packed a creamy, indulgent punch – in exactly the way that means I find it a bit creepy and unpleasant); ham hock terrine was spreadable, but in a chunky way that didn’t lose all texture; duck rillettes were stringy and fibrous in just the right to-the-teeth fashion; pig’s head was rendered down into almost a croquette; chutneys and mini-pickles cut through the fatty mass of meat, though the perfunctory rocket salad was pretty bland and didn’t add much.

I was sneaky enough to ask if I could have some of the watermelon pickle that was an accompaniment to another dish. My theory was that watermelon pickle wouldn’t work. I contend that I was right, though Rachael and my parents were a little more generous and felt it was ‘interesting’. We all know what that means.

The selection was well-chosen, and a little different, and the thought that went into the creation and presentation of the whole menu shone through. This creativity was especially apparent in the desserts, particularly my pain perdu with hazelnut cream and a (yes, I’m cheeky) substituted-in (but correctly!) Ferrero Rocher ice-cream. Rachael’s Kernal Stout ice-cream, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly to my taste.

Overall, I’m game for trying more of the menu. You won’t even have to twist my arm!

Charcuterie at Terroirs

image

When we planned to have a spot of charcuterie at Terroirs ahead of a wiener schnitzel at The Delauney, I’d rather envisaged Rachael and I having a glass of wine and nibbling on a spot of cured meats as a perfect starter. I happened to bump into Paul, a good friend who runs my writers’ group, who had a glass of wine, but didn’t stay to help us eat. Which was a pity, not just to lose his company, but also because Terroirs don’t do things by halves – not by a long shot.

“Veritable plank-loads of meat”

With Time Out’s failure to specify exactly what we should be eating, we ordered a selection of charcuterie (including the selection of charcuterie!), and were brought veritable plank-loads of meat.

Everything we ordered was delicious, particularly the pork and pistachio terrine, and I also particular enjoyed the duck rillettes. These dishes could easily have been a meal in themselves, and a perfectly pleasant evening could be spent sipping nice wine and picking at seemingly bottomless plates of salami and paté, as clearly many of our fellow diners were doing.

“Terroirs don’t do things by halves”

Something about it didn’t come together, however, and I didn’t find myself feeling like I’d eaten a full meal, even though I was pretty full. Perhaps this is unfair, given we’re supposed to be reviewing dishes, not full meals. Even so, Time Out itself admits that there’s better charcuterie to be had in London, which rather invites the question of why they didn’t include those in the top 100 list. Maybe they wanted to include Terroirs for its (genuinely) comfortable ambiance and deft cooking in general, but again, the list is supposed to be identifying great dishes, not restaurants.

Enjoyable, tasty, but ultimately left me a little cold and unsatisfied.