On The Menu: Short ribs, an open book, cool canapés, tomato treats and an ode to bacon
This week I've been eating... Short ribs
I'm a huge fan of Hawksmoor, the steakhouse that now boasts three outlets in London (there's soon to be a fourth).
Earlier this year its Spitalfields branch introduced a snazzy bar in the cellar, serving up cocktails and snacks. The food is American and trashy… and absolutely delicious. Burgers, chilli cheese dogs and its famous lobster roll all feature. The shortrib French dip consists of braised shortrib served with melted cheese on a brioche bun with a jug of thick gravy. The tasty sides offer the perfect accompaniment: jalapeño coleslaw, chips, smashed cucumbers, and shortrib nuggets (double up on those). Half of the cocktail list is updated monthly. Fool's Gold is a heady mix of bourbon, ginger wine, apricot syrup and angostura bitters. I got so attached I'll be sad to see it go next month. But then, it'll have something new up its sleeves by then.
Hawksmoor, 157 Commerical Street, London E1. 020 7426 4856
An open book
The ever-imaginative restaurateur Russell Norman, the father of the Polpo mini-chain of Italian bacaros in London, has done something ever so clever with his new 140-recipe cookbook and guide to the bacaros of Venice. In cahoots with his publisher, Bloomsbury, he has done away with the thick board spine that you find on most recipe books, leaving it uncovered instead. The upshot is that, unlike other cookbooks, when you open the recipe for, say, chicken-liver crostini, the book stays open on exactly that page, rather than half-closing, thus doing away with the need to use a bag of sugar as a makeshift weight.
I do like The Tomato Stall, the purveyor of just about every tomato product you can fashion from a grove of Isle of Wight tomatoes. Its range runs from prepped sauces to fist-sized green kumatos that look like the product of a minor nuclear fallout, but taste divine. But two things top the charts: the green tomato chutney, which is at once acidic and almost rhubarb-sweet, and goes will with chunks of ham and harder cheeses. And the lovely delicate oak-roasted tomatoes in oil, which couldn't be less like the acrid sun-dried equivalents you get in supermarkets if they tried.
I've attended one or two parties for book launches and restaurant openings over the past couple of years and while the drink usually flows, the canapés aren't always so easy to come by. At the Corinthia Hotel last Thursday they got round this, by setting up four tables on which were arranged variously: cooked meats, a fromagerie-worth of cheese, ceviche and a knobbly beach of oysters. The best canapés in town, without a doubt.
Ode to bacon
Oh, Case & Sons' Wiltshire bacon, let me count the ways I love thee. I love your thickness and the way you crisp, and you are as fine at lunch as at dinner or in the morning. You need no embellishment, too, and the only attention you need is five minutes under the grill.
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