Pigging out - literally - at Blackfoot, Exmouth Market
As soon as I heard that one of my favourite chefs (Allegra McEvedy) was involved in a restaurant dedicated to one of my favourite ingredients (pork) I knew I had to get down there pronto. And you can’t try out a restaurant much sooner than its first full day’s trading.
Blackfoot (named after the famous Spanish pata negra pig) has been set up by Tom Ward, former operations manager of the Leon group - where he also worked with Allegra.
It faces quite a challenge in being in what is already one of the foodiest thoroughfares in London (Exmouth Market) which not only houses Moro, Morito, Medcalf and Caravan but a battery of street food traders - on Friday at least.
If you’re a pork lover the choice is pretty tough. There’s charcuterie - had to be - ribs, pork steaks and salads - very good ones. Allegra, the inventor of Leon’s superfood salad, is as inspired a veggie cook as she is a meat one. The pecan slaw is exemplary and will enable you to justify munching through all that meat.
I went a bit mad given the size of the helpings and ordered rillettes (a little salty but full of flavour), a vast porchetta roll with salsa verde which they’re going to be selling from the front of the restaurant as a takeaway and - best of all - some fantastic deep-fried crisp and aromatic ribs which are apparently braised with lemongrass, ginger and lime leaves, deep-fried and scattered with a punchy topping of crisp garlic chips, chilli and spring onions. A welcome change from the smokey American-style ribs that are all over London - though they have those too.
As a friendly PR was on the next table I also managed to try the chilli crackling (ace), the Vietnamese belly salad (good but not as quite good as the ribs) and the mega-nut burger which is a properly satisfying veggie burger not an apology for one pretending to be meat. You could easily bring a vegetarian here though such a full-blooded celebration of pork is obviously not going to make some feel entirely comfortable.
I didn’t get to try the Oxford Sandy & Black gammon steak but saw one whizzing past and that looked great too.
You’d think after that lot I’d have had the decency to skip dessert but felt duty-bound to investigate the quirkly-named Like a Key Lime Pie. I’m not sure in what respect it was ‘like’ one rather than an actual one. It was vividly limey but also amazingly, fluffily light, so much so the slice almost fell apart on the plate. Allegra who had turned up at the table to say hello pronounced that it looked ‘a bit of a car crash’ and that the challenge was to get it to look as good as it tasted. I doubt if the punters will much mind if it doesn’t. Make sure you leave room for one.
Drinks? There’s a short interesting well-priced wine list including a Spanish Malvasia and a Hungarian riesling as well as a couple of house wines trendily on tap. I actually drank beer (a Paulaner and a Meantime IPA which was the special of the day). My one minor criticism is that they could do with a porter or stout.
So, great start, good value (my bill for this pig-out was £32.72), look forward to going back.
PS Blackfoot is not the only exciting thing going on in Exmouth Market this week. Round the corner the excellent Quality Chop House has opened a very posh butcher and takeaway shop with delicious bits and pieces to take home. That makes two top butchers in the area - the other being Turner & George. Lucky locals.
Blackfoot is at 46 Exmouth Market London EC1 4QE. Tel 020 7837 4384
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