And Don't Spare The Horses

Seriously, is there a better pub to eat in than The Coach & Horses? While I like the concept of gastropubs - better food in places that sell beer, what's not to like? - way too many places get it wrong. Hell, way too many places have decided that by replacing the old furniture with stripped pine and sourcing an artisan sausage or two, they can now charge £12 for bangers and mash. Worse, too many have emphasised the "gastro" bit at the expense of the "pub" bit.

So thank Christ - or the deity of your choice - for Giles and Colette and their glorious boozer. And, in particular, their annoyingly talented young chef Henry. This isn't food that reinvents the wheel, this is comforting, delicious, simple stuff. We kicked off with a couple of Scotch eggs (sorry Iqbal, sorry Ginger Pig, sorry Graham's, but these are probably the best in London) before moving onto a selection of starters, from pig's head with sauce gribiche, to potted shrimps with (homemade, astonishing, dear-god-give-me-the-recipe) sodabread, via amazing herring roes on toast. Mains were in similar vein: venison and chestnut pie with mash and kale, a pork chop that equated to about 1/16th of a pig (with glorious crispy fat), and ox cheek that hadn't so much slow braised as treated with the sort of long-lasting TLC that borders on the obsessive, served with prunes to form a wintery, warming combination that made my eyes roll back involuntarily in my head. Puddings of apple and rhubabrb crumble and rice pudding with prunes had a similar effect, while the wines - good choices one and all by Col - were the sort of bottles that made you whimper. Quite literally in Giles's case...

Tonight's intriguing event - sake and sushi pairing at the Japanese / Brazilian fusion place Sushino - has a lot to live up to. More on that tomorrow, then.


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