A London Diary 1 - The City's Bumpkin

Monday, May 21, 2012

I am back in London again. It is summertime although it seems as if the sun is gone preparing for the coming Olympics, as the rest of the city is.

I can go on and on about the wonderful conferences, the people I have met and the atmosphere in the pub when Drogba scored the winning penalty. But as this is a blog about all things edible, we will stick to that. Photos turned out alright with my trusty iPhone 4GS though there were times I wished I had brought along my Canon.

For the most part, this was not a vacation (unlike these), let alone, a food trip. This means that often, convenience dictated where we should eat. We did check up some nearby places on the Net but nothing beats visual observation and some of our best eating discoveries came from that. I will highlight a few memorable experiences.

We were walking along South Kensington Road, searching for our first Sunday lunch after a wonderful Church Service. Still jet-lagged (we only arrived the day before), our stomachs were thinking dinner.

That was when we bumped into Bumpkin. We peeped in. It looked decent enough and with a quick check on the menu - definitely British. In fact, as we walked in, we almost felt we were stepping into an English home.

After we placed our orders, we eyed longingly at the bread counter. The waiter was nice enough to oblige and we had some bread starters with rapeseed oil.  

For the mains, being the Lord's Day, we went for a Sunday Beef Roast, Crispy Pork Belly & Fish & Chips (of course).

Beautiful Yorkshire Pudding which seemed to be screaming: "Eat me!"
The Roast of Beef came with a rather oversized but delicious-looking Yorkshire pudding. The slices of sirloin beef were tender and moist. Gravy as it should be and the pudding great as a go with.

The fish had a crisped batter and the meat flaked beautifully (Flaked beautifully? I should have taken a photo, right?). The fries done the rustic way, skin on, and was served in the fryer "basket." While stylish in presentation, it does get in the way if left on the plate. Just move it to the center of the table and share with your buddies.

The "Slow-roasted Outdoor-reared" Pork Belly (lead photo) came with a thick crisped skin. It had a nice crackle to the bite. Nothing tooth-breaking here. Using the table knife, it cuts cleanly and the skin breaks off where it should. The meat is moist and has a good bite to it, though I would prefer it to be cooked longer at  a lower temp to get the meat tighter together and less mushy. I did not ask, but it may have been cooked Sous Vide. Served with mash and caramelized apple, there is little not to like about this dish. The deep yellow Old English Mustard was gorgeous with it.    

My last version of this dish was back in Singapore in an Italian restaurant. The skin crackled in some parts, and hard or  chewy in others. The meat was dry (cooked too fast and too high temp). I was struggling and could not even finish half of it.

This Kensington version costs a lot less and is a world's apart in more ways than one. Satisfying dinner lunch. I could have this regularly. Not that my dear will allow it.

Taken off the menu: Creamy fish pie made with salmon,
smoked haddock and sustainable
white fish, leeks and peas and topped with filo pastry
We also shared the Creamy Fish Pie, which was topped with light Filo pastry. A good old British dish with a nice twist. The pieces of salmon, haddock and white fish were just lightly cooked. Treated gently as most fish dishes should be. The light pastry goes wonderfully with it.

The deserts on the list all sounded very yummy. We chose one to share for a taste-try: Caramel Sticky Toffee Pudding with Jude's Vanilla Ice Cream. I am not particularly fond of desserts but this did blow us away. It was as delicious as it sounded. I have not eaten much to compare but I was thinking that my girls would fall in love with this.

It is hard to top this
The service was good throughout. The mains cost about £14-18 and the toffee pudding £5.75. It does cost a bit more than other more casual pub joints but I would think this is a good place to introduce good rustic home-cooked British food to overseas visitors.

Trust this can inspire you to consider making them at home. I will try, especially with the help of these taste memories.

I will probably write one or two more posts to document my food experiences in London. Stay tuned.


Bumpkin Restaurants
Check out their website for their 3 locations.

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  1. We at Bumpkin would like to thank you for this wonderful blog and hope you have had a fantastic trip and experience. We look forward to more of your posts.

    Bumpkin family.