The George, directly opposite the Royal Courts of Justice (great location), was built in 1851 and has recently been extensively refurbished: the ground floor bar has been considerably spruced up, albeit into a dark wooden womb of real ale and pub grub. Just the thing to appeal to the legal gentleman whose easily-channelled inner bloke wants to eat cauliflower mac cheese at lunchtime, or a scotch egg, washed down with a pint of Fordham Route 1 IPA. And if IPA isn’t their brief, they can choose from a large list of alternatives, including nine daily-changing real ales which are one of the pub’s greatest strengths.
Upstairs, in the room now branded as the Pig & Goose restaurant, wooden fixtures and fittings also dominate. It’s the setting for an avowedly British menu that was a cut above the bar food downstairs both in ambition and price. Tortellini made fresh on the premises came stuffed with truffled potato, for instance, while brown butter added slickness and flavour; there was fried sage and some cheeky crumbled amaretti biscuit too – not too much, fortunately. Fillet of stone bass sat on parsnip purée with girolles and spinach, and some chicken jus for extra moisture.
A side of spinach with toasted almonds was no more nor less than described: blanched spinach with flakes of toasted nut in an attractive little pot. At £4 per side dish, however, it did feel a little pricy. One of the others was radicchio, gem lettuce and salad cream; for four quid you would have to hope it had more going for it than a few salad leaves and some kitsch condiment.
Oysters and small dishes dubbed ‘morsels’ rounded off the top of the menu, the shellfish from Carlingford Lough and a morsel being something like potted rabbit with soldiers and piccalilli. A short starters list featured the likes of cured longhorn beef, foie gras and chicken liver parfait or warm pressed pork and goose. Puddings, including spotted dick and vanilla custard, round off the bottom.
The Pig & Goose is discreet, masculine and comforting – its menu aims to please. It may be ideal for those legal gents who find that the public bar at the George can be just a little too public from time to time.