Once or twice a year, a really special restaurant will pop up in the City. Last year, we had Chiswell Street Dining Rooms; this year we’ve been graced with The Jugged Hare, the latest gastro venture of Ed and Tom Martin – also of Chiswell Street Dining Rooms fame.
The street in question, running from Moorgate to the dodgy bit of the Barbican, is fast becoming the City’s hottest destination street for food. Just around the corner from the Barbican centre, newly-opened The Jugged Hare, in the grade II listed old Whitbread brewery, divides itself neatly between a bar area and a proper, old-school sit-down style dining room, complete with a large open kitchen. Wafts of steam and smoke billow pleasantly out of it, and diners can gratefully watch the rotisserie wheel around, full of grilled chicken breasts and legs of lamb. City folk, this is the real deal.
A first course of goat’s cheese, dandelion, pea and broad bean salad was defiantly in-season, despite the pouring rain Londoners have suffered of late. IT guy’s diver-caught scallop gratin was a new take on what has become the most common starter in the history of starters. So far, so good.
Expectedly, The Jugged Hare gives a nod to gastro trends when it comes to the main course. ‘In season’, ‘on the spit’ and ‘pie of the day’ pepper the menu, and all change regularly, often using fresh game. The wild boar pie, in a thick crust and a rich sauce, was a real treat. Likewise, IT guy’s potted quail, half a bird in a casserole dish with potatoes and mushrooms, was refreshingly different. The menu is unashamedly gamey, and it’s a rousing change from the usual chicken-beef-fish choice, although the ‘Billingsgate’ selection means there is some decent fresh fish also.
The only criticism is that the dessert course, a dense mint chocolate ganache and a ‘pretty nice’ black treacle tart for IT guy, came all too quickly. In between slurping wine, digesting large quantities of rich, rich game and ordering a third course, a curdling chocolate pudding was about as much as my blood pressure could handle.
But the waistband-busting adventure doesn’t end with a wildly calorific dessert. A fine wine dispenser sits in the corner, allowing drinkers and diners alike to explore a range of fine wines. The bottle of Rioja that we ordered, matching the food perfectly, sadly went unfinished: a heady mix of first course, main and heavy dessert ensured we were slumped, catatonically, in our red leather booth shortly after the last course.
The Jugged Hare might well be the best City launch ever. As well as great food, the restaurant is a taxidermist’s dream: stuffed birds watch over the bar, and mounted hare heads face ominously onto the street. On leaving, I commented to the effervescent waitress that the place was packed to the rafters, only six weeks or so after opening. The response was ‘it’s been busy the minute we opened our doors’. Says it all, really.
The Jugged Hare
49 Chiswell Street