Top 10 Pub Snacks in London Slideshow
August 3, 2012
Similar to Spanish chicharrónes, the pork scratchings found in London pubs are shards of crisp pork skin, often served with apple sauce. Crunchy and a little salty, dipped into some sweet apple sauce, they’re brilliantly paired with beer, so it’s no wonder they’re a popular pub snack. These are from Albion Cafe in Shoreditch, which is more eatery than pub, so for real pub atmosphere hit up the iconic White Horse, in Parsons Green.
Potted Smoked Mackerel
For this dish, chunks of smoked mackerel are combined in a ramekin with herbs, lemon juice, and a binding agent like yogurt, mayo, cream, or butter, and then eaten with bread or toast. In Shoreditch, The Carpenter’s Arms does a lovely chive-dotted take on this when available, or try it at Draft House near Tower Bridge.
Rock oysters, particularly the prized Maldon rock oyster, from the Blackwater River in Essex, are common offerings on gastropub menus. Briny and creamy, they’re wonderful paired with a pint (are you noticing a trend here?). With a dedicated Maldon oyster bar, the Fox & Anchor pub in Clerkenwell is a great place for these, or try The Cow Pub, in Bayswater.
No, there’s no rabbit in it — this rich, deeply savory pub snack is just toast topped with a melted-cheese spread made with things like English cheddar, beer, Worcestershire sauce, and maybe some cayenne, mustard, and paprika. It’s perfect alongside a real ale at the restored Victorian-era Fox & Anchor pub in Clerkenwell where it’s cooked with stout or on Exmouth Market at Medcalf.
You can’t help but love a good sausage roll: it is minced pork and herbs wrapped into pastry and baked to golden, flaky perfection. At The Holly Bush in pretty Hampstead, the buttery sausage rolls are made with sage, imparting a fragrant earthiness. The pork and ale specialists at The Southampton Arms, in Highgate, likewise offer a killer sausage roll.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Who says dessert doesn’t go with beer? Sticky toffee pudding is easily one of the best sweets to come out of Britain, consisting of a dark sponge cake soaked with sweet toffee sauce, a concoction of butter, sugar, and cream. In Hampstead, The Holly Bush does an incredible STP topped with a buttery dollop of Cornish clotted cream, which adds a cooling, extra-creamy contrast to the rich, syrupy cake. Alternatively, try this pudding at The Victoria in Paddington.
What’s better on a summer’s day than a beer and a rustic board of local cheese, fruit, pickle relish, pork pie, crusty bread, and butter? That’s what the ploughman’s lunch boils down to, though components will vary pub to pub. We loved this one at The Marquis Cornwallis, in Bloomsbury, which included two delicious regional cheeses: a tangy Stilton blue cheese and a smooth cheddar. Alternatively, try the ploughman’s lunch at Covent Garden’s Lamb & Flag.
Now it’s true you don’t need to be in a pub to get a good meat pie — the pictured chicken and tarragon pie is an on-the-go gourmet offering from Pieminister — but they remain standard fare at London pubs, some certainly better than others. Particularly good homemade pies can be found at The Bree Louise, an unassuming pub near Euston Station, as well as at The Newman Arms, in Fitzrovia, which offers at least seven home-baked pies a day.
Fish Finger Sandwich
Like the popular bacon butty — that’s a bacon sandwich for the uninitiated — the fish finger sandwich is pure pub comfort food. It’s literally just fried fish sticks between bread with your spread of choice, such as tartar sauce, HP, ketchup, or mayo. We like the leafy version on hand at The Clarence, a pub in Whitehall not far from Parliament, and at The Gun at 15 Coldharbour in Docklands where the fish fingers are homemade.