Literature's bad boy inspires this quirky gastropub!
- 25 April 2012
- by Barbara Boyle
Why is this newly revamped pub on the Dalston/Beauvoir borders called
Hunter S? You might be tempted to think that it has something to do with big game hunting in Africa. From our table we counted 14 stuffed animal heads including antelope, water buffalo, a particularly handsome wildebeest and a family of deer. Vegetarians beware!
But you would be wrong. The name refers to Hunter Stockton Thompson, the celebrated American journalist/author (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; The Rum Diaries) who was keen on drink and drugs. So there's a convenient wordplay at work between the literary and the literal, with Hunter lending itself to both taxidermy and an abundance of liquor! Vegetarians need not worry: the menu includes the requisite veggie option but indeed favours carnivores. Unlike Hunter S Thompson, my dining companion and I kept our drinking to a minimum. I did have a house wine - a red Merlot - very nice - to accompany the meal. My companion, heavily pregnant, abstained, but we can thrill about the excellent selection of beers and whiskeys on offer.
Instead we concentrated on the food - after all Hunter S is a listed as a gastropub. And deservedly so. I started with the Chicken Liver Parfait with Apple and Raisin Chutney & Toasted Brioche which was divine, melt-in-the-mouth. My companion was equally happy with the Salmon Foursome of Rillet, Smoked, Confit and Caviar with melba toast.
For the main course, I tried the Pan Fried Sea Bream with Crab Crushed New Potatoes and Samphire, Caper & Parsley Sauce. The fish was perfectly cooked, flaky, tender and fresh but it lacked excitement. Even the crab/mashed potato accompaniment could not lift it out of the ordinary. Perhaps I was spoiled by the heavenly liver parfait. My companion had the 35-day air hung rib-eye steak with hand cut chips, which sounded very grand and lived up to its name. She ordered the steak medium and was surprised and delighted when it arrived as it should, cooked to perfection and tender.
For dessert I had the Earl Grey Chocolate Fondant. Just a little too crusty on the outside for my taste, however the crunchy ice cream that accompanied it was simply delectable. My companion had the White Chocolate Cheesecake which, she pronounced, was pretty perfect, neither too rich nor sickly sweet.
I must mention the fabulous crystal chandelier, suspended from an embossed copper ceiling, which would not have looked out of place in The Ritz. The ladies' loo was a pleasant surprise too: bedecked with tasteful photos of young, naked, muscular men - always a welcome treat!
We arrived at 6.30pm for an early dinner and were shown to our candle-lit table by a pleasant and efficient waitress. The room was dimly lit and America blues and Dixieland played unobtrusively in the background. At 8pm they dimmed the lights further and pumped up the volume. The soundtrack changed to West Coast swing. By 9pm the pub was brimming with a young, trendy crowd - everyone appeared to be under 35. Our table was in demand and it was time for us to leave.
Hunter S offers generous portions, fresh ingredients, a mixture of traditional and imaginative dishes and a fun ambiance: a great place to entertain guests, as it's very atmospheric. We'll be back for sure to celebrate the birth and sample the whiskeys!