Dean Owen

5 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility ~100 ·

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May Contain Shot !!! - In Defense of British Food

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After 25 years away from Blighty, of all the things I missed dearly, British food was never one of them. And so it was that spending a month in my hometown, London, I was keen to rediscover the nourishment of my childhood. The world at large seems eager to dismiss British food as bland, and I for one, was guilty as charged.

I did miss the Sunday roasts with the family, and Scottish smoked salmon from Partridges with a generous squish of lemon, and let's not forget the great British breakfast, but that was probably all. So I made the most of my time in London to actually discover if British food deserves the bad reputation it has garnered. 

And so it was that I chanced upon a public house (“pub” to you and me) called The Jugged Hare on Vauxhaul Bridge Road near Victoria Station. What enticed my interest was the signboard outside beckoning with the promise of “Famous for the Best Pies in Victoria”.

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Stepping in to the beautiful 19th Century landmark, the decorum was typical pub fare with not a hint of any gastronomic delights to come. A few days earlier, I had the pleasure of a nice business meeting at the famed Builder’s Arms Chelsea, a delightful gastro-pub with quaint decorum and quality British food like Haddock and Chips. The Jugged Hare, on the other hand, was a typical raw British pub where you might expect saw dust on the wooden floors. The pie menu was extensive in variety and I settled for the Jugged Hare House Pie, described as “Hare cooked with carrots, celery & onions in port & red currant jelly” with a side note “We source our hare sustainably overseas — may contain shot” (“shot” refers to the tiny spherical pellets dispersed from a shotgun shell). It is not often that you bite into a dish and audibly mumble the words “Wow!”. Perhaps I was just hungry, or plain nostalgic at having pie after 25 years, so I dismissed my initial feelings and downed my meal. As days passed, I found myself yearning to go back and have more pie, much like an addiction. So after three visits, I felt the urge to spread the word, British food is not only good, but deserves the moniker Great British Food. 


 

Other pies on the menu:

Guinea Fowl, Port & Prune Pie - Poached guinea fowl, smoked bacon, celeriac, onion, carrot & prunes in a rich port & juniper berry reduction.

Lamb Shoulder & Black Cab Stout Pie - Black Cab Stout marinated lamb shoulder braised with winter roots & wholegrain mustard.

Pork Pippen Pie - Diced leg of pork, caramelized Cox Pippin apples, onion, sage & thyme in cider gravy finished with cream.

Venison, Bacon, & Sloe Gin Pie - Sloe gin marinated venison, carrots, onion, celery, leeks & smoked bacon stewed in red wine.

Steak & E.S.B. Pie - Tender beef steak, caramelised shallots & button mushrooms slowly cooked in Fuller’s Extra Special Bitter gravy.

Fish Pie - Salmon, hake, smoked haddock & prawns with leeks, onion, dill & lemon cream sauce in an oven dish, topped with Cheddar mash.

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and the list goes on….This trip thus far, has not been without its disappointments. The Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding I’d had at the famous Porter’s in Covent Garden was not fit for a homeless puppy in Afghanistan.

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That said, London is not without its gems. Langan’s Brasserie in Mayfair, a restaurant started way back in 1976 as a partnership between Peter Langan and the great Sir Michael Caine, remains to this day one of my favourite. For my next trip back home I am sure I will return to The Jugged Hare, but if any of you have any recommendations, do drop me a line.


Dean Owen is a Co-Founder of Quimojo, a revolutionary new concept in Global Campus Recruitment.


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Comments

Dean Owen

4 years ago #18

#25
Thanks for making me hungry Wayne!

Wayne Yoshida

4 years ago #17

Re: Kevin Pashuk. Dean covers a bunch of topics.

Wayne Yoshida

5 years ago #16

#23
Yes, I think you will like it. I spent a week in Ireland and they have similar meals. And I also love the various "pie" served at pubs.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #15

#22
I will have to dust off the reel and warm up the projector for that movie Wayne Yoshida!

Wayne Yoshida

5 years ago #14

As a British foodie fan - if you watch the Alfred Hitchcock movie -- "Frenzy" -- there are some great (maybe not great but maybe funny) food scenes at the detective's house. . .

Dean Owen

5 years ago #13

@Jamie Gamez Cruz, they are great. The best? Not so sure. I love Mille Trous pancakes that can be found in North Africa, and Nasi Lemak in Malaysia. Thanks for reading.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #12

Jan Johnston Osburn, it does not bode well for British food if the thing you missed most was a Dominoes pizza! In fact, I think the thing that Brits miss most when they leave the country to some remote part of the world is their chocolate (Maltesers/Bounty etc). Walker Crisps... Agh, one great British invention has to be salt and vinegar flavour crisps! Thanks for the comment!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #11

@James McElearney Now let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Compared to other nations cuisines, even British pride cannot deny that British food ranks way way down. And hold your horses on the cheese and wine! Yes there are some speciality cheeses that can give the French a run for their money (Stilton or Westcombe cheddar), but as a whole .... And yes you have your celeb chefs, but they would not stack up against Ferran Adria, Thomas Keller, Seiji Yamamoto etc. That said, Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck did become the world No 1 restaurant when El Bulli closed if I recall rightly, but only for one year, but he was trained in classical French cuisine. Let's not forget that Britain's national dish is arguably Chicken Tikka Masala!

Dean Owen

5 years ago #10

@Sara I guess their perception of British food is from all the touristy British restaurants in Marbella etc. But in general, every country has it's gems and Britain is no different. One thing for sure is that us Brits have no clue how to make simple vegetables taste good. I am thinking Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, which I used to hate ... until I came to Asia. Thanks for the comment!

Louise Smith

5 years ago #9

#13
Jamie O eat your heart out ?

Dean Owen

5 years ago #8

#5
Trent Selbrede I must say the culinary scene in London is buzzing (except for Japanese food, which has really gone downhill since my mother sold her restaurants - she opened the first Japanese restaurant in Europe which was frequented by the likes of the Beatles/Rolling Stones etc). Hotels in London have improved vastly (since recently the staff are all from Europe and not Brits!). Grosvenor House and the Dorchester have always been good, but also recently gems like The Halkin. Burgers, well, our only choice back in the 80's was The Hard Rock :(

Dean Owen

5 years ago #7

#5
Trent Selbrede I must say the culinary scene in London is buzzing (except for Japanese food, which has really gone downhill since my mother sold her restaurants - she opened the first Japanese restaurant in Europe which was frequented by the likes of the Beatles/Rolling Stones etc). Hotels in London have improved vastly (since recently the staff are all from Europe and not Brits!). Grosvenor House and the Dorchester have always been good, but also recently gems like The Halkin. Burgers, well, our only choice back in the 80's was The Hard Rock :(

Dean Owen

5 years ago #6

#5
Trent Selbrede I must say the culinary scene in London is buzzing (except for Japanese food, which has really gone downhill since my mother sold her restaurants - she opened the first Japanese restaurant in Europe which was frequented by the likes of the Beatles/Rolling Stones etc). Hotels in London have improved vastly (since recently the staff are all from Europe and not Brits!). Grosvenor House and the Dorchester have always been good, but also recently gems like The Halkin. Burgers, well, our only choice back in the 80's was The Hard Rock :(

Dean Owen

5 years ago #5

#2
Louise Smith, yes I do miss the pubs. There seems to be an Irish pub in every city in Asia with Guinness on tap, but no English pubs. The Harrods Food Hall, well what can I say... Paradise? And the Cheese and Branston Pickle sandwich (A Ploughman's Lunch) ... It's been 30 years for me but I can still remember the taste.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #4

#1
@Julie Hickman, yes I don't have that many memories of fruit in London, aside from the strawberries (with cream) and a glass of bubbly during Wimbledon. Used to be some good fruit and veg markets in Chelsea where I grew up, but all replaced by M&S, Sainsburies ready cut fruit in plastic packaging. Shame really. Thanks for the comment!

Louise Smith

5 years ago #3

@julie hickman Julie Erickson the 2 fn is doing a LI! I can't get @julie hickman only @Julie Erickson and now not even her... weird Juan Imaz FYI

Louise Smith

5 years ago #2

Fruit in Harrods but at what price and not equal to down under ordinary quality @Julie Hickman !

Louise Smith

5 years ago #1

This is not the post to read at LUNCH TIME ! esp if you like pies ! Great Torture Dean Owen ! My fav London Pub is Princess Louise in walking distance from the British Museum. Great Cheese and Pickle sangers and cup of cha. Dinkum Aussie bar staff so you can feel a bit of nostalgia when hearing the goss while they polish up the glassware for the evening crowd! regardz Louise

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