Monday, 9 July 2007

The Eagle Gastro-pub

Owing to a minor gas leak from our new boiler (ah, what a sweet phrase to hear), rather than risk blowing ourselves up just to casually boil some gnocchi we decided to eat out this weekend. After looking at several possible contenders, we decided to eat at The Eagle, the restaurant for which the term ‘gastro-pub’ was coined. Mr A&N and I are big gastro-pub fans, so it’s a wonder we hadn’t been there before.

The Eagle is so true to it’s old-school, 1990’s roots that it doesn’t even have a web site. I think that qualifies as cutting-edge-retro these days. The interior is as you would expect from a gastro-pub, though this was the place that established the mould: old Victorian boozer, with a painted ceiling, exposed floorboards, and mis-matched chairs. The menu was a bit of surprise, though, with very reasonably priced mains (£9-£11 for the bulk of dishes, one or two at £14) and ingredient combinations that tended toward the Spanish.

The food was also a surprise, being not just good but very good indeed. One main we had was onglet of beef (or hanger beef), which was cooked properly so that it was flash friend but still rare. Surprisingly, it was served with tarragon but it was a pleasant surprise rather than a curious taste sensation – the tarragon tasted very aniseed-y but the beef more than held its own, letting each mouthful be strong in flavour. The haddock main, served with an anchovy paste, sultanas, and almonds, served over garlicky spinach, was really outstanding. I’d never had haddock that managed to be that meaty before, and the spinach was a fresh, nutty variety that helped to bring something more to the almond slivers floating about. The only complaint was that the dish was awash in olive oil; very good oil it was, but I do think they could have held back a bit – olive fields all over Spain must be feeling the pinch.

I still can’t believe we’ve taken so long to eat there, but it’s heartening to see that the restaurant that set the gastro-pub standard still has high cooking standards of its own. We forgot to bring any camera with us so rather than a picture of the food, you’ll have to settled for a picture of an Eagle of a different sort.

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