Friday, October 14, 2016

Hill & Szrok and The Gibson, 28th September

There’s very little point in going to Hill & Szrok if you don’t eat meat. They started as a Butchery and cookshop in Broadway market and their pub is pretty much an excuse to show off the meat they butcher. Having said that, there are a few sides which are just as good to eat as the meat.

The sautéed potatoes were gorgeously golden discs of salty crunchiness and soft potato inside. Hispi cabbage which seems to be flaunting itself all over town on many a menu was as good here as I’ve had elsewhere – sprinkled with chilli to liven it up and apparently anchovy was also somehow involved although I couldn’t spot where. Blended into the sauce it was dressed with I imagine. It was a really delicious bit of veg. The salad we ordered was probably unnecessary and barely got a look in after the cabbage and potatoes were all done. It was crisp and fresh but rather too mustardy for me.

While not normally a fan of the pork chop I thought it stood a good chance of being done well here, and I was right. Nice and thick it had a good amount of fat on the edge (although some of that fat could have been a little more melty than chewy) and wasn’t in the least dry. A chunky applesauce accompanied.

I had a white wine and a red wine over dinner. The white was dry but had some personality to it and the red was a montepulciano which I know is always a safe bet and had a pretty heady aroma. Our waiter was so sweet he even offered to let me try the wines I was deciding between – how often do you get that offered to you?

I really liked the set up too. I was worried the place would be more restaurant than pub but they have delineated it so that seated service is at the back and does feel more prim whereas the front is definitely a proper pub where you can pop in for a drink without feeling any pressure to eat.

Hill & Szrok Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Square Meal

After this we took a short walk up to The Gibson, a cocktail bar I have been eying for some time now. It wasn’t quite what I expected – I thought it was going to be more serious, classic drinks, instead they like to surprise you with added extras and features. Some of them not altogether welcome. I had a shaky start when I ordered the Tiger balm and what was set down was a huge glass with (I thought in the half light) Bombay mix pinned to the side.  Before I reached in to get a few, the waiter explained they were worms! I literally yelped and shrank away, banishing them from my sight. My date was braver and tried one – said they tasted a bit like candied ginger. I would not be persuaded. The chunk of tamarind that it came with was also odd to eat and after one bite full of seeds I abandoned it.  
My companion had ordered the Dry Gibson which came with pickled black eyed peas and a spoon to scoop them out with. That was delicious. They managed to make what is basically a glass full of gin completely moreish. 
My second drink was more like a dessert than a drink (well it was called a Tiki toffee pudding), topped with a thick waffle, with the glass encased in chocolate. But I went back to savoury with my last drink. 
We both had Asian-inspired drinks to finish – my 'Big in Japan' was topped with warmed wasabi peas and my companion had his 'Way of the Dragon' served in a teapot (dragon-shaped of course) which blew smoke into his glass.

But anyone can come up with fun things to do with cocktails. The main thing about this place is that each one tasted as good as it looked and I would have been as happy with them even without the bells and whistles. They’re just my kind of drinks – strong enough you taste the alcohol, with the extra ingredients smoothing and rounding it out.

The number of drinks on the menu is ridiculous so you could easily come back again and again to work through all their inventions. When we went, we even had a bit of jazz being played on the piano, which was a nice surprise. And, unlike Nightjar down the road, you would actually stand a chance of getting a seat on a weekday – when we went at 8:30 on a Wednesday there were but a few others there. 

The Gibson Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Square Meal

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Please feel free to add your views, or maybe suggest somewhere I should put on my list!