This is another former pub that is now a restaurant and the inside boasts old style country pub features like wooden beams and low ceilings, so watch your head. Table sizes are generous though the inside of the restaurant is long but not so wide so the large tables seem to trap you into your seats which is slightly uncomfortable.
The menu though doesn't disappoint with both Tom's 2010 slow cooked duck with duck fat chips and the pork platter from 2011 on the menu. The Roast Hog though, to give it its proper name is a sharing plate so putting us in a dilemma. While we decide, some fried whitebait are brought to the table for snacking and are pretty much spot on in their sea tasting saltiness. We devise a plan and make propose a four course lunch of our own making.
First up, two from the starter list, Quail tart with green olives, chicory and aged Gruyere, and Glazed omelette of smoked haddock and Parmesan. Both arrive at the table with clear precision to the dish, both are sizeable portions and both are fabulous. The quail arrives on a bed of rough pork pate and builds upwards with the olive, cubes of Gruyere, the quail, more Gruyere and then chicory. It's a differentiated dish with differentiated flavours.
I have loved Omelette Arnold Bennett for many years now and The Hand & Flowers version is as good as any. Quality fish, a beautiful melting texture and a fabulous glaze on top. I've never tried it at its home - the Savoy - but I doubt it could be better.
The mid course of fish also gave us a chance to try a side of Hand & Flower chips which were another revelation, and chips that would floor so many pretenders.
The trotter here was the star of the show, tightly compacted meat and offal delivering up a pork sensation. The head was juicy and flavourful but texturally was quite loose. We both agreed that we preferred the tighter knit pork head of The Kitchin the previous week, though a hybrid of the two would have been perfect. A small disappointment in the dish was the crackling which looked as though it was perfection but in reality had not fully crisped; the salt was also too much.
The salt baked potatoes come in a baked crusty and non edible sack. Untie the rope and slice through the top to access them. It is visually impressive and a semi interactive experience which was clearly the goal for GBM but in a restaurant, it felt a little too gimmicky, time consuming and awkward. The potatoes were nice enough but they overall joy of the Hog dish would be little diminished in the absence of the salt baked crust.
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