Who’s game for afternoon tea? Mike is and his non-gentleman friend.
Until recently, because the envelope of its conventions has been ripped open:
Champagne bottomless bubbles, gin based, botanical based, brunch based burger based, chocaholic or alcoholic, Italian themed Nordic themed, Basque themed and as an accompaniment to opera or Shakespeare.
So, what next? If you are The Jugged Hare, a handsome gastro pub in the City of London with a reputation for excellent game cuisine, you invent the game themed’Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea’.
I love the idea, even if the name seems less than enlightened. For that reason I invite my gentlelady friend Rachel to join me. as I happen to know she loves getting her teeth into a nice bit of meat.
We sit in a large horseshoe booth and the obligatory three-tiered silver stand arrives on a wooden board festooned and surrounded by brown foods. Swiftly followed to table by a warm hued traffic light array of matched beers.
But where’s the tea? A pot arrives but it’s not strictly tea but a consommÃƒÂ© reduced from the game stock Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it’s the first thing we try and it’s delicious.
A bouquet of crispy pigeon and partridge legs are sampled next and washed down with ale number one, a Wild Beer Co Nebula Hazy IPA, before we hit the top tier to work our way down.
Cob loaf with pheasant, venison, hare jus (naturally) and black cow cheddar has tasty meaty chunks of filling in a soft spongy dough with blobs of waxy cheese. It’s great though the resistance of a traditional game pie’s shortcrust pastry is missed in the textures.
The middle level holds mini burgers or’sliders’ (as they are known by modern gentleman) of woodpigeon, pickled bilberries and redcurrant which are delightful.
A glug of ale two, Sambrook’s Brewery, Battersea Rye helps to make room but we leave some items behind in order to move down to the final tier, determined not to be beaten by fullness.
There we discover squares of toast with sealed offal, black pudding and pancetta Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the topping is a taste packed triumph but the toast, as it’s cold, lacks crunch or crisp. Rachel decides melba style would have suited perfectly and I give her my gentleman’s agreement.
Thankfully, crispiness does come with game chips (as they are known by modern gentleman Ã¢â‚¬â€œ crisps to older ones) which we crunch along with pheasant finger sandwiches. These are the classic rectangular shape with squishy white bread and they complement the premise of the tea perfectly.
Speaking of perfect tea, the consommÃƒÂ© is lush and we drain it before sipping on ale three: Villages Rafiki Session IPA.
All the ales have been good and well paired with the strong flavours of the game, but if pressed we have to choose the Battersea Rye as our favourite.
We are left feeling stuffed as our leftover morsels are foil wrapped for later, then we recline sleepily replete into our booth wondering when we might be able to move again (About an hour).
All in all, when it comes to a game themed afternoon tea – I am game, end of.