Friday, June 6, 2014

The Salisbury: A Traditional English Pub Lunch

The Salisbury Pub on St Martin's Lane in Covent Garden is one of London's most striking Victorian pubs with splendid cut glass mirrors, fine upholstery and a magnificent bar. This traditional pub, named after the first Earl of Salisbury, first opened its doors in 1892 and although many things have changed over the years The Salisbury still retains a certain old world charm. Above the main entrance a small canopy is supported by two angels, and between them, the Cecil coat of arms. The gentleman on the pub sign is the third Marquis of Salisbury, Robert Cecil, who was Prime Minister from 1885 to 1902, and from whom the site of the tavern was originally leased over 120 years ago. 

The pub entrance canopy is supported by two angels, and between them, the Cecil coat of arms

The Salisbury offers not only a slice of sumptuous Victorian history, but an international menu with some classic British favourites and up to 6 well kept real ales. During the day it's a relaxing place for a pint and a pub lunch, in early evening it's filled with office workers and later theatre goers, being well placed for both Shaftesbury Avenue, Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square, which is where we were headed to see the magnificent Veronese exhibit at the National Gallery after a pint of beer and classic pub lunch.

A great selection of ales, lagers and bitters on tap at The Salisbury

The beer taps are full of character and charm

Two pints of beer — the perfect way to start our lunch

A traditional pub menu with Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, and Steak & Ale Pie

Wild Boar Sausage Roll with Wild boar, pork & leek, wrapped in puff pastry and served with wholegrain mustard mayonnaise

Hand Battered Cod and Chips served with fresh garden peas, tartar sauce and wedge of lemon

Traditional English-style Bangers and Chips with onion chutney and a wee pot of gravy

Fortified with our pint of ale and classic pub lunch, we ambled down St Martin's Lane to The National Gallery's Sainsbury Wing and spent the rest of the afternoon in Renaissance Venice, swept up with Veronese's magnificent visions of opulence, spectacle and colour. Paolo Caliari (1528–1588) of Verona (hence ‘Veronese’) was one of the most renowned and sought-after artists working in Venice in the 16th-century. A virtuoso and a craftsman, Veronese created works ranging from frescoes, altarpieces, and devotional paintings to allegorical pictures and portraits. Having once adorned churches, palaces, villas and public buildings throughout the Veneto region of Italy, the exhibition marks the most significant collection of masterpieces by the artist ever to be displayed in the UK, with some major loans travelling to London from across the globe, and reunited in the exhibition for the first time in hundreds of years.

Poster for the Veronese Exhibition at The National Gallery 

Steak & Ale Pie
Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of The Hairy Bikers

1 lb puff pastry, ready-made
5 tbsp Sunflower oil
7 oz smoked streaky bacon rashers, cut into 1/4-inch strips
2 medium onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 lb well-marbled braising steak, trimmed of hard fat or gristle
2 cups good quality ale
2 cups beef stock
1 tbsp tomato purée
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped from stalks
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp cornflour, blended with 2 tbsp cold water
12 crimini mushrooms, wiped and halved or quartered if large
1 pinch flaked sea salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan. Fry the bacon strips with the onions until pale golden brown, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and fry for a minute or two until softened. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions, garlic and bacon to a flameproof casserole dish. Cut the steak into rough 2.5cm cubes and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the frying pan and fry the meat over a medium heat in 2 or 3 batches until well browned all over. Add extra oil if the pan seems dry. Transfer the beef to the casserole dish as it is browned.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Deglaze the frying pan with half the ale. Bring it to the boil while stirring hard to lift all the sediment from the bottom of the pan. Pour this over the beef. Add the remaining ale, then the stock, tomato purée and herbs. Bring everything to the boil, then cover and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Remove the dish from the oven, stir in the cornflour paste, then put it back for 5 minutes or until the juices are thick. Adjust the seasoning to taste and leave to cool. 

Turn the oven up to 400°F. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms over a high heat for about 5 minutes until golden, then add them to the meat. Spoon everything into a pie dish around a pie funnel.

Roll out the puff pastry on a well-floured surface until about 3/16-inch thick and at least 1-inch larger than your pie dish. Cut some strips, about 1/4-inch wider than the rim of the dish, from around the edge. Brush the rim of the pie dish with beaten egg and fix the strips in place, overlapping a little where necessary, then brush with more egg.

Place the pastry lid carefully over the filling. Trim off the excess pastry with a sharp knife and knock up the edges. Brush the top with beaten egg. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake in the centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes until puffed up and golden brown.