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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Posh Pub Crawling at ETM Group Pubs - ETM Gastro Gallop for London Restaurant Festival


In the run-up to London Restaurant Festival (LRF), a group of food and wine writers and I were taken on a gastronomic tour of five of ETM Group's establishments. For one day only, 5th October 2011, you can experience the same trip as part of LRF for only £60 per person inclusive of five courses in five different venues plus fine wines, cocktails and transport. For more information, visit the London Restaurant Festival website here.

Image Courtesy of  Paul Winch-Furness

Whenever I visit the bars of Spain or Italy I feel a bittersweet admiration for their custom of serving delectable small plates with their drinks, and how each bar is known for its particular offerings. This is a habit I would love to see extended to London where the saying "Eating is Cheating" is unfortunately ingrained in the minds of many hardened drinkers. In my opinion, drinking and eating go hand in hand, and it always a delight to find pubs like the ones we visited where as much trouble and thought goes into the food as the drinks.

Our first of five stops was at the Chiswell Street DiningRooms (CSDR) for canapés and cocktails. Occupying the premises of the former Whitbread Brewery on Milton Street, CSDR offers all-day, classic British menus devised by head chef Richard O’Connell, previously at The Groucho Club and One Aldwych. This was in my opinion the most elegant establishment, offering the best setting and food of all the places we visited during the evening.


I particularly enjoyed the mini Aberdeen Angus beef Wellington, the foie gras ballotine, brioche and Madeira jelly, and the seared Isle of Man king scallop, served with crispy bacon and pea puree. 

Image Courtesy of Coralie of Tea Time in Wonderland
Image Courtesy of Coralie of Tea Time in Wonderland
Other delectable canapés included smoked eel with horseradish, leek and wild mushroom tart, and soft boiled quail's egg, truffled duxelle and celery salt. A fine Old Elliot cocktail, a refreshing blend of Plymouth gin, Lillet Blanc, Peychaud's bitters, fresh coriander, lime juice and sugar, was a splendid foil to the range of canapés.

Image Courtesy of Coralie of Tea Time in Wonderland

Image Courtesy of Coralie of Tea Time in Wonderland
We then boarded our people carrier to be whisked off to our next stop - The Hat and Tun at 3 Hatton Wall, Farringdon for our starter. This was a more traditional Victorian pub setting with deer antlers on the walls, taxidermy trophies and abundant dark oak.

Image Courtesy of Coralie of Tea Time in Wonderland

We were quickly seated and served our starter of Herefordshire snail and smoke bacon pie, Guinness and mushroom cream sauce. The snails were meaty and tasted delicious with the other ingredients encased in a light and crisp pastry.

Image Courtesy of Coralie of Tea Time in Wonderland


To accompany our pie, we had what I thought were some of the best wines of the evening - a fantastic 08 Montagny, 1er Cru le Vieux Chateau by J M Boillot, and also a red from the same region (Burgundy), a 08 Savigny les Beaune, 1er Cru Fourneaux by Jean J Girard. I was very pleased to see such quality wines at The Hat and Tun, and was soon to discover that the Beverage Operations Manager for the ETM Group who was accompanying us on the evening, Paulo Brammer, is a fellow Brazilian. Trust a Brazilian to find a good tipple!

It was soon time to head off to our third stop, and aboard our mini-van, we made our way to The White Swan on Fetter Lane. Similar in style to The Hat and Tun but with an impressive first-floor dining room, TheWhite Swan is another of ETM's pubs I would like to return to. Lunch menus are priced at £27 and £31 (two/three courses), while a three course dinner will set you back £35 or thereabouts. Judging by the delicious main course we had there, and the lavish dining room, these are, in my opinion, fair prices.


My roast tranche of Cornish line-caught turbot was, as their site states, hand-selected that morning at Billingsgate Market, and indeed it tasted ultra fresh. It was accompanied by Dorset crab beignets, braised young turnip tops, salsify, and bisque butter sauce. It was a beautifully executed dish with some top quality fish, being also the perfect match to the 07 South African Semillon from Boekenhoutskloof, in Franschhoek that we drank there.

Image Courtesy of Paul-Winch Furness

For dessert, we then drove across town to The Botanist in Sloane Square. More like a glitzy bar than a traditional English pub, The Botanist is a beautiful venue which certainly lives up to its glamorous postcode. There, we were served an assortment of dessert canapés including lemon meringue pie, Devonshire custard tart and baked gooseberry cheesecake.

My favourite desserts however were the fig pudding with Port roasted figs and caramel custard, and the chocolate and pecan brownies. To accompany our dessert canapés, we had a magnificent 08 Royal Tokaji Late Harvest from Hungary which was buttery, with refreshing acidity and notes of sweet honey and flowers.

Image Courtesy of Paul Winch-Furness

The evening wasn't over yet! Off we went to The Cadogan Arms on the Kings Road, just a few hundred metres away for coffee, digestifs, and a game of pool. This was a splendid evening, full of good food and wines, and I hope to be able to revisit some of these spots over the coming months.


I would highly recommend this London Restaurant Festival event tonight, ETM Gastro Gallop, which recreates this trip at £60 per person including 5 course dinner, wines, cocktail and transport between the five locations. For more information and to book tickets, please visit the website here or call Lauren on 020 7242 9122 ext 1 or email lauren.w@etmgroup.co.uk.

Chiswell Street Dining Rooms 56 Chiswell St, EC1Y 4SA  (020 7614 0177)

Chiswell Street Dining Room on Urbanspoon

The Hat & Tun 3 Hatton Wall, EC1N 8HX  (020 7 242 4747)

The Hat & Tun on Urbanspoon

The White Swan 108 Fetter Lane, EC4A 1ES  (020 7242 9696)

The White Swan on Urbanspoon

The Botanist 7 Sloane Square, SW1W 8EE  (020 7730 0077)

The Botanist on Urbanspoon

The Cadogan Arms 298 King's Road, SW3 5UG (020 7352 6500)

The Cadogan Arms on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

  1. I so left London at the wrong time to miss this - sounds and looks like you had a brilliant time xx

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  2. Hand selected at Billingsgate, oh my. It reads well on a menu but would you not rather trust a fishmonger than a pub manager? By the way we are rather blessed in London with the likes of Southbank, Kennards, Steve Hatt, Alexander & Knight etc. They don't run restaurants. They just sell fish.Maybe best to stick to the knitting

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