Venison, the favourite food of Henry VIII is back in fashion. On Saturday I sat down to a great hunk of it for as part of an all girls Christmas catch up lunch at The Lansdowne on Primrose Hill and pondered the vagaries of food trends. Of course one of the reasons that venison is once again popular can be attributed to the rise of gastro pubs such as The Lansdowne where urbanites can gather and imagine we are in the countryside and eating the spoils of a recent hunt. In keeping with this atmosphere I swear that some people even had their Labradors with them in the bar at The Lansdowne (and those people were very popular with the girls).
Venison consumption is being championed this Christmas by that 111 year old tome of rural living, Country Life. Given Country Life’s target market I suppose this is not surprising, however they make the point that deer numbers are rising to menace stage and so we should all order some venison to assist in keeping the numbers down. Please don’t ask why I was reading Country Life. All you need to know was that I followed their advice and ordered a main of braised venison. Spruced up with some juniper and roasted vegetables it was really tender but with gutsy flavours.
The inclusion of venison was characteristic of the menu at The Lansdowne which was peppered with seasonal British food such as cured sea trout, langoustines with mayonnaise and a Gubeen and potato pie. My starter of a beetroot, feta and ruby chard salad topped with scattered pomengrate was just about the perfect winter salad. It was similar to salads I’ve made myself but the pomengrate was a touch of inspiration and added a sparkle to the whole dish.
I gave in to my chocoholic tendencies for dessert and ordered the pressed chocolate cake with chocolate sauce which was nice and simple (pictured). However, one swiped spoonful of the Pannettone bread and butter pudding told me that it was the star of the dessert menu. The pudding was comforting and stodgy in just the right sort of way. It was hard to stop at just one spoonful and ended up being one of those situations where you are entirely monopolising someone elses food in addition to your own (sorry Sarah). Given that venison is lower in fat than beef and pork I figure that the cake and stolen pudding didn’t really count anyway.
Details: 90 Gloucester Avenue, Primrose Hill, NW1 8HX (Ph 0207 483 0409)
Damage: Reasonable (£28.50 for three courses)