I’m a simple man. Four pints of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and a packet of Pork Scratchings is my ideal night out! So when I heard that revamped Timothy Taylor’s managed Town Hall Tavern was demonstrating culinary pig alchemy I knew we had to go.
I used to love the old Town Hall Tavern with its dodgy carpets, stench of piss and reliably great pint! So it was with a little trepidation that I heard of its impending transformation. Has a decent pint of bitter ever survived a metropolitan makeover?
I needn’t have worried. The Bitter is as good as ever (but then I’ve not had a bad pint of Landlord yet) and the decor is stylish without being pretentious, it still feels like a pub and you would happily sit at the bar and consume 4 pints of Landlord without feeling like you were getting in the way. However, it’s the food that really impresses here.
The menu is a great example of regional and traditional produce with the items on the Pick & Mix section really catching the eye. Mainly for the exceptional use of the cheap bits of pig to produce what is, essentially, incredibly good value Yorkshire tapas. When our selection arrived it looked like something straight from a top end restaurant. Beautifully arranged and crafted. The Chips were cooked in dripping and crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside with a dollop of aioli for good measure. The crispy Hens Egg was a simple joy of soft boiled egg and crispy breadcrumbs, the Pigs Ears a gelatinous treat, Black Pudding & Chicken Samosa a revelation but the real star is the Pig’s Cheek Scotch Egg. This is the scotch egg redefined. Forget the leaden, stodgy, uniform cannonball of an object that passes for a scotch egg these days with it’s indefinable meat and over-cooked egg. This is sumptuous. Irregular and crisply on the outside with tender, slow cooked, shredded pigs cheek on the inside, topped off with a soft boiled quails egg in the centre. If the plate of food we had ordered was an homage to the pig this was the crowning glory.
We finished with a plate of cheese and Ram Tam Chocolate Brownie with Salted Caramel Mousse. The cheese was good but disappointingly cold (as with all restaurants these days) and the brownie could have done with more bitterness against the wonderful salted caramel mousse. But this is the sort of nitpicking only reserved for when you’ve had something truly great.
Including a pint of landlord, two glasses of wine and gin and tonic this came to an austerity friendly £36.55… In a city known for the overpriced vulgarity of establishments such as Bibis this place seems like it’s in the wrong city. But then that’s probably a lot to do with the influence of the owner’s BD post code. Value for money has never tasted this good.