Review: The Unruly Pig, Bromeswell
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis finds a cool spot for a cold night in The Unruly Pig, Bromeswell
After braving a sideways snow blizzard, entering The Unruly Pig was like a big warm hug.
The eatery, reopened before Christmas following a devastating blaze last summer, looks fabulous – like a home from home (but not like mine, which is covered in toys, books and kids’ stuff).
Deep, rich, tonal colours cover the walls, accented by owner Brendan’s art collection. A sultry mood is created by candelabra, log burners and uber cool French industrial lighting. We felt instantly relaxed and toasty – although I was a little worried about knocking over the aforementioned candelabra – I’m such a klutz!
Speaking to Brendan for menu suggestions from the concise seasonal offering, which is injected with just a hint of rustic Italian influence, it was clear he’s a foodie. Completely impassioned, he described every dish in mouth-watering detail. But this was to our detriment as it really did make us want to eat everything.
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Smoked potato and pork croquettes. Salmon rillettes with fennel and horseradish. Sage and thyme stuffed rabbit with baked polenta and cauliflower. Sea bream with olive hollandaise. We wanted it all.
While weighing up the options, we picked over a sharing board crammed with goodies. There were crisp toasts with a salty olive and anchovy dip, almonds fried off with fresh thyme and bacon, beautifully nutty green olives, vegetable crisps and, a star player – the fried battered gherkins with chilli mayo. Who’d have thought a pickled cucumber could taste so good?
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On the side, Jarv sipped on a good old pint of IPA and I kicked off the evening with a booze-free passion fruit spritzer. Instantly I was taken to hotter climes by the zippy, fizzy little number, with its almost sherbet-like flavour. I do like a passion fruit and this didn’t disappoint.
No sooner had our nibbles been devoured and our starters arrived. Truth be told, we could smell Jarv’s wafting from the kitchen before it even got to the table.
His chicken veloute with truffle, crispy chicken and tiny toast-shaped brioche was utter heaven. Hats off to head chef Dave for such an elegant and unexpected taste sensation.
Underneath the earthy, pungent truffle, were layers and layers of meaty, chickeny goodness, captured perfectly in the silky veloute. The crunchy chicken and toast took it to another level. If you have this, order a side of bread. You won’t want to waste a drop – trust me.
Being on a diet (er-hm) I ordered the brisket and bone marrow on sourdough. Well, Brendan made it sound too delicious to miss out on.
Hiding a decent sized wodge of sourdough, the soft beef ribbons melted into wibbly bone marrow in a tangle of unctuousness. Silly as it sounds, it was really beefy and hearty and ‘phwoar’. Yeah. Proper food.
Standing up to the flavours was a glass of St Emilion, with its hints of tobacco, blackcurrant and liquorice.
To follow, Jarv was won over by Brendan, who really sold him the smoked haddock, leek and chanterelle risotto. And that took some doing. My husband hates risotto and when I make it home he always rolls his eyes and saunters off to find something else to eat.
That wasn’t the case here. In fact he savoured every single bite. The ever-so-lightly smoked haddock (courtesy of Pinneys) was gently cooked and perched on a well-judged plate of thick, starchy rice, studded with chanterelles and melting leeks. Over the top, tiny breadcrumbs added additional texture. Very good.
With it, Jarv had a glass of mineral-crisp Tocai, which was a great partner in crime.
Sipping a glass of floral, melon-ripe Soave, I took a bite of my main course and boy was it good! Let’s start with the handmade agnolotti pasta, thin as you like and stuffed with nuggets of roasted chicken thigh and leg, combined with finely chopped wild mushrooms.
These were bound, with al dente Savoy cabbage, in a soft, smooth, comforting and silky chicken sauce.
And on top – sous vide chicken, poached and then fired for seconds on the Inka grill. It was buttery and delicate and quite unlike chicken I’ve had before. Every little drop of moisture had been retained. I really barely had to chew.
To finish, I was lured by the salted caramel tart. I’ve been in love with salted caramel for years (long before it was trendy), having first tasted the combination on the Isle de Noirmoutier in France, tucked into a buckwheat crepe envelope.
Here, a chocolate base encased a generous slick of salty sweet goo. I have to say, the salt packs a real punch, so if you aren’t too sure about the sweet and salty thing, this might not be for you. But I thought it worked gloriously. Especially when spooned into the mouth with the other elements on the plate – real honey honeycomb and vanilla bean-studded Jersey cream.
To wash it down was a small glass of Italian dessert wine, and one I hadn’t tried before – Recioto. Its heady Parma Violet perfume was a winner with the pud.
Now, as soon as Jarv saw the pudding menu his eyes lit up because one of the desserts ticked all his boxes. Mint. Baileys. Chocolate. Sold.
The mint chocolate delice was expertly crafted. A base layer of crunchy crisp chocolate infused with just a hint of fresh garden mint, was topped by a wickedly good chocolate mousse and a glaze he really could see his reflection in.
On the side sat a boule of Baileys ice cream. Suffice to say, it didn’t last long.
As we braced ourselves at the thought of heading back into the cold, over steaming long glasses of latte and mocha, we were already planning our next visit back.
After all, we HAVE to try the lunchtime cheese toastie filled with smoked pork!