I've had a couple of work lunches at the Jugged Hare. I was tempted to revisit last week while I'm still in the area because of the recent release of the top 50 gastropub list for 2013.
Special mention here to the pub coming in 2nd place, The Sportsman, my top meal of 2012. Representing Kent, go guys!
So The Jugged Hare is 24th on the list, in general London pubs did very well, see a run down here. I'm not entirely sure this place should technically be classified as a gastropub, but I have only eaten in the restaurant area. There is a small front pub section and a larger formal dining room at the rear. The decor is reminiscent of Goodman, Mayfair, lots of dark wood and leather.
The menu is meaty, there are plenty of daily specials, hawked on twitter. There's also a lot of fish and a pie of the day. I liked the sound of the majority of the menu and could happily eat my way through the lot. I tried the fish pie on one occasion which was small but perfectly formed. Generous amounts of salmon, haddock, prawns and scallop with a nice crispy mash potato topping.
Once seated, you are given a small sourdough loaf with salted butter. I really like the bread, there's no cover charge but the dishes don't come cheap with mains between £16 and £30. When I sat down, somebody had a laptop bag sprawled across the seat I'd been allocated, nobody volunteered to move it, so I moved it myself, an act which was treated with general disdain from both the neighbouring table and the waitress.
I had the special of braised herdwick lamb shank with mash and savoy cabbage. I drank water which was topped up once from a jug closely guarded by the wait staff, and was never seen again. The lamb was lovely though. So tender, off the bone served on top of the mash and veg. There was the slightly bizarre appearance of baby spinach leaves, I ate them but it seemed unnecessary. In all I was very happy with my choice.
Thomas had the Tamworth pork shoulder with caramel apple sauce. Some of the specials come with sides and others do not which is strange. Thomas' did not so he also ordered a green salad and some suede mash. The pork was ok, not particularly mindblowing but the apple element was pretty great, sweet and tangy it livened up and otherwise average dish. More inexplicable foliage to decorate.
The whole thing is a bit stuffy and not in keeping with what a gastropub is all about for me. The food is good, but expensive (we paid about £30 a head for 1 dish each) and I'd much rather go to the Bull & Last, recent find The Pig & Butcher, or back to The Sportsman, quite possibly my favourite pub anywhere in the world!
The Jugged Hare
49 Chiswell St