Brains, hearts, tripe, tails – they’re all making a comeback on London menus. Kitty Drake dares to try the gutsiest gastronomy in town.
Lamb brain at Barraffina (pictured above)
This sounds like a zombie's hellish dream but it tastes like heaven. Tapas king Barrafina serves its brain rolled in panko (breadcrumbs) then topped with spicy homemade tomato sauce, chopped Aragon olives, basil, shallots and balsamic vinegar. All crisp and crunchy on the outside, beautifully creamy on the inside - creating one perfect mouthful.
EWW FACTOR: 4
Silky and wobbly, the brain itself is like tofu for meat-eaters.
10 Adelaide St. Leicester Square. £10.60.
Duck hearts on toast at Hill & Szrok
Carcasses hang in the windows of this Hackney 'master butcher and cookshop', setting the mood for some of the gory-sounding dishes within. H&S's duck hearts are each the size of a two-pence piece with a supple, muscle-like consistency.
Fried with parsley and served on toasted sourdough, this delicate meaty delight is guaranteed to get your own ticker racing.
EWW FACTOR: 4. They really do look like teeny, tiny hearts. On toast.
60 Broadway Market, London Fields Overground. £7.50.
Twice-cooked pig tripe with spicy Miso (Huroman Yaki) at Nanban
According to Nanban head chef Tim Anderson (of ‘MasterChef’ fame), tripe – aka stomach lining – is one of the least scary members of the offal family. Stir-fried at this Japanese soulfood joint, and served with a spicy lime miso sauce, this tripe is a fresh, crunchy taste explosion. Ghoulishly good.
EWW FACTOR: 3. It's smothered in miso sauce and veg, so you can barely tell there's stomach involved at all.
426 Coldharbour Lane. Brixton. £4.95.
Ox tongue, carrots and pickled radish at Clipstone
If the thought of putting an animal’s tongue in your mouth sends a shiver down your spine, Clipstone is the place to face your fears. There’s no sliminess with this dish: the tongue is brined for a week, steamed for a night then sliced up like charcuterie to achieve peak, dreamy tenderness. Dressed with brown butter, glazed fermented carrots, parsley and linseed, the tongue has a richness that’s allowed to shine through. Trick or treat? Definitely treat.
EWW FACTOR: 2. Think oxtail soup in finely sliced form.
5 Clipstone St. Goodge St. £8.
Shrimp-and-sesame-crusted crispy pigtails at Black Axe Mangal
Yes those are the actual tails of pigs. Deep fried. But the way the chefs at rock-themed uber-kebab house Black Axe Mangal make ’em, you’ll be ordering seconds. Poached in a stock of smoked pig cheeks then coated in breadcrumbs, sesame seeds and chopped shrimp, these tails are a crunchy, porcine dream.
EWW FACTOR: 5. Yep, it's definitely a tail. Get over it.
156 Canonbury Rd. Highbury & Islington. £9.50.
Fancy some less gruesome grub? Here's some awesome new restaurants opening soon.