Tag Archives: Young’s

The Porchester: Bayswater

On entering The Porchester in Bayswater, you’re mostly struck by the aroma – it’s like when you turn up at your mum’s on a Sunday; starving, hungover and itching for something warm and nourishing to sort you out, and the smell of a roast, or some gravy or fresh bread makes everything ok. So a good start for a cold, rainy Tuesday evening in West London.

Another of the newly made-over Young’s portfolio, The Porchester is situated on Bishop’s Bridge Road, between Royal Oak and Bayswater tubes, and is a fairly hefty site. It wasn’t overly busy on this occasion, but there was still a homely atmosphere, and as you may have gathered, some lovely cooking aromas.

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We started off with the scallops, which are served with black pudding and pea puree – a no-brainer combination, but if it ain’t broke and all that. They were completely gorgeous, tender with a bit of texture on the outside, presumably from being fried in butter. The pea puree was perfect, with some pea bits still present, and the black pudding was soft and flavoursome.

Crab with pork crackling was good, it’s a paste rather than chunks of crab and the brown meat gave it lots of good strong flavour that went well with the salty meatiness of the crackling. It didn’t quite have the skull-jarring initial crunch that I love about good crackling, and there was too much crab and not enough to dip in it – best to order some bread on the side.

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Pork belly (I seem to have a preoccupation with pork at the moment) with mash, apple sauce, greens and (more) black pudding was simple but very effective – spot-on comfort food with very creamy mash that I certainly could’ve eaten more of, and delicious meaty gravy. It was like a thick, rich pork soup – heaven.

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The shepherd’s pie was the hero here though, with its chunks of lamb in minty gravy, and more of the lovely mash and a smidge of cheese. We ignored the bit of cabbage on the side and devoured the rest with unseemly speed. A moist, date-y sticky toffee pudding was the ideal round-off.

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The Porchester’s a really good foody pub, with poshed-up comfort dishes in a nice atmosphere with sweet, attentive staff – they’re certainly ticking a whole lot of boxes and if I find myself that way again I’d definitely go back.

http://www.theporchester.co.uk/

*Prices are very reasonable but our meal was courtesy of The Porchester

Porchester on Urbanspoon

The Halfway House: Earlsfield

Finding myself in Earlsfield isn’t a common occurrence, I wouldn’t have a clue where to begin in terms of eating or drinking.  Luckily, as soon as you come out of the station you are in spitting distance of the newly-refurbished Halfway House, a delightful pub with lots of quirky detailing, effusively friendly service and what quickly transpired to be a gorgeous menu.

HH - dining room

Meeting my sister for a glass and a bite after work, we plumped for the Rioja (delicious) in the airy dining room area and went through the menu, which is packed with seasonal delights – lots of game, seafood, pork belly and pub classics.

We went for the pigeon and razor clams to start, and rabbit haunch (to Soph’s horror) and pork belly for mains. HHpigeon

HHclams

The pigeon wasn’t overly tender (perhaps cooked a tiny bit too long?) but the flavour was incredible, so strong and meaty. The razor clams were the sea on a plate – really soft, salty and delicious with tender leeks and a touch of bacon-smokiness, and lots of pepper. I could’ve definitely polished them off twice, just needed a little piece of crusty bread to mop up the juice.

Despite Soph’s sadness at my wolfing down her childhood pets, I thoroughly enjoyed the rabbit haunch – the meat was juicy and easily came off the bones, and with golden beetroot, kale and pearl barley, the whole dish felt autumnal and somehow restorative.

The twice-cooked pork belly was perfect crunchy on the outside while the meat just melted. Black pudding complimented it perfectly.

HHpork HHrabbit

Thoroughly stuffed we of course went for dessert – rich, creamy lemon posset with a home-made shortbread biscuit, and a chocolate ‘brookie’, or brownie/cookie hybrid with salted caramel ice cream. More brownie than cookie, the ice cream had sunk into the chocolate creating a soft, wet, caramel/chocolate mess. Heaven. So two fab desserts! (and the posset was actually not bad spread onto the brookie *sheepish*)

The brookie itself came with raspberry sauce. Now I really have an issue with fruit and chocolate (except oranges) so I left that bit alone, but am fully aware I’m being picky and that this was overall a fabulous dessert.  We went further with an espresso martini and a glass of the muscat – both delicious and the perfect end to the meal.

HHdessert

The Halfway House is highly recommended – staff are lovely, there was a nice atmosphere (fairly busy on a rainy Tuesday) and the food is extremely good. Definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Earlsfield!

http://www.thehalfway.com/

*Food is very reasonable but we were guests of Halfway House.

Square Meal

The Mac’n’Cheese Scotch Egg at Finch’s

This dish was so good it required the whole post to be named after it. But onto that later..

Nestled between Moorgate and Old Street, Finch’s pub is relatively unassuming from the outside, but once you’re in it opens out into a tardis-like expanse of pale wood, mismatched furniture, birdcages and lots of quirky little details that make it feel like a unique oasis in a desert of chains. As it’s part of pub giant Young’s, of patterned carpets and brass handrails, this is a pretty epic achievement.

I will have to attempt to curb my enthusiasm for my starter or this will turn into a novel. Perfectly boiled runny egg, soft, creamy pasta,  and a crisp, crunchy coating equals… yes, it’s the MACARONI CHEESE SCOTCH EGG. Whilst it does admittedly hover on the edge of the deep-fried Mars bar/Oreo-filled doughnut category, it hits all my weaknesses in one cheesy go. The hot mustard is the perfect accompaniment It’s roughly the size of a head, and portioned as a starter so best to share, especially if you want to indulge in mains and dessert.

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We also had coffee-smoked salmon on toast with vanilla and caramel nuts; delicious fish, enhanced by the hint of coffee but I did question the vanilla with the salmon – Heston may have pulled it off at The Fat Duck, but something here didn’t 100% work. The salmon was delicious, lightly smokey, not greasy, cut to the perfect thickness – leave it alone I say.

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Mains were meaty, generous and delicious – tender, rare duck breast with a light orange sauce and fondant potato, and perfectly cooked steak with chunky, spot-on chips. Dessert came in the form of a chocolate salami – a rich, dark log of chocolate, biscuit and pistachios, served with chocolate sauce. We gilded the lily with salted caramel ice cream; it didn’t need it but it was lovely.

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Everything was reasonably priced, the service was attentive and friendly, the food delicious and although it was very quiet (Monday) I imagine later in the week it’s much more buzzy – overall a near-enough triumph for Young’s.

www.finchspub.co.uk

*A version of this post was first published on Foodepedia