15 Nov 2006

Pleasure-Pain Principle

ADJECTIVELY 'GOOGLE' the Anchor and Hope (SE1, 'The Cut') and you will find the word "pleasure" is very often applied to this outstanding gastropub. Yesterday evening my friend and I experienced several thrillingly indulgent helpings of pleasure; alas today I am in pain, agony in fact. My poor head feels like a precarious balloon filled with glue. I must simply work through what in any other occupation would be termed "professional injury".
In the bustling bar, a tall fluted aperitif poured into tumblers, Amestoi '05 from the Basque Country, pampered us into submission with its dry grapey pétillance.
In the bresaola-ruddy dining room we moved onto Gruner Veltliner - pungent, PaPaw rich, replete with spicy seeds and also banana innards. This worked in harmony with four shared starters - an accomplished terrine sadly bullied by a cranberry compote; herring issued with little glass beakers of bison grass vodka which allegedly-acts as a "potent agent for virility and stamina". It tasted of masticated cud twined with wheat grass. Potato soup and Foie Gras was quirky but fallible, both items requiring time apart, the fat liver not waving but drowning in the potage quicksand. The highlight, however, was the line-up of lighly dressed glimmering 'sprats' - small fish related to sardines and herrings, but with an element of whitebait (the crunchiness perhaps) cropping into their flavourful makeup.
Buoyed by the bison grass tonic we plunged into tender pink veal chops and spiced beef, braised for eight hours. Les Mal Aimes Syrah from Minervois flowed alongside, although it didn't deliver as we hoped. The winemaker had brazenly autographed his work, something which generally peals alarm bells. Macchiatos in glasses looked like miniature Irish coffees. Macallan 10 (mightier than the 18) and poughting Grappa bevelled the evening.
Overall the meal was such a splendid experience, with the staff so interested in coaxing diners to satiation, that on my very late return home I telephoned my food-centric friend north of the border to relay every detail. Only on dialling did I encounter my gently swaying inability to focus on even that most basic task...
Further Link: PaPaw Foundation

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