London Scotch egg showdown: The Jugged Hare vs. The Old Red Cow
You’re spoilt for choice for pubs in this part of town and, down the road towards Clerkenwell, The Old Red Cow makes for an interesting comparison with the Hare. It’s more self-consciously chalk and sawdust, the kind of post-modern no frills boozer where a rug is about as decorative as it gets but the dispensing system probably costs as much as a two-up, two-down on Humberside. It offers a very good selection of cask ale – Sambrooks was particularly well represented on my visit – and rotates an excellent range of UK craft beer (think Brew Dog, Meantime and Camden Town) alongside carefully considered options from the US and the Continent.
It takes its beer very seriously indeed and holds regular dinner events to promote the criminally under appreciated food pairing potential of said tipple. Both traditional and progressive, it’s like a little compact version of my one-time favourite pub in London, the Jolly Butchers, and is everything I look for in a drinking den. I’d be lying hideously if I said I didn’t find it a considerably more inviting venue than the Hare, not least because the bar manager was down-to-earth, knowledgeable, and reminded me of Neil Young – I don’t think you’re likely to find him decked out in kitsch Victoriana anytime soon.
Based on its Scotch egg, the kitchen is pretty damn rock and roll too. In many ways, it’s a classic interpretation of this very versatile bar snack: all old school herbaceous, porky goodness served in the more traditional way with mustard. But in another sense, it’s totally of its time, as the Scotch egg’s elevation from service station standby to fully fetishised food stuff is absolutely a recent development. Like medium rare burgers, the gooey-yolked Scotch egg has evolved into a foodie obsession over the last couple of years and at the Cow, the luminous orange liquidity at the heart of the beast is almost unreal, threatening to steal the show entirely. I make no bones about being an amateur photographer at best, but I’m sort of proud of this money shot.