Hill & Szrok Public House (CLOSED)
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The team behind the Broadway Market butchers opens up an Old Street pub with a focus on meat.
Please note, Hill & Szrok Public House has now closed. Time Out Food editors, March 2019.
When a pub has cows on the wallpaper, it’s a statement of intent. Not that it should come as a surprise: the original Hill & Szrok, after all, was a 25-seat no-bookings supper club by night, and a butcher by day. It was hugely, annoyingly popular, with queues that snaked down the street. So to deal with demand they finally opened this – a proper pub with a proper dining room, and meat they’ve butchered themselves.
They buy everything – from chickens to cows – as carcasses, then carve it up at the butcher’s. Not one bit goes to waste, so expect brawn and kidneys alongside the high-end blackboard steaks. Meat is aged on site and there’s both a charcoal grill and a spit roast. And the meat – ohhhh, the meat – is cooked to perfection.
Case in point was a simple pork chop. So often dry or bland, this came thick-cut, juicy and bursting with meaty flavour. Best of all, the kitchen had gone to the trouble of cutting deep notches into its rind – much like the crenellations on a turret – so the fat would all crisp up into crackling. It was so mind-bendingly delicious, I’m still dreaming about it now. A ribeye steak was in a similar league, with its charred outer and bouncy pink middle. The quality of the meat – which is both free-range and slow-grown – was unmistakable. Chicken hearts were plump, gamey little nuggets, served on buttery toast with a drizzle of garlicky sauce. So far, so wonderful.
But the meal was not without its flaws. Both grilled meats came with over-engineered house condiments (such as an overly sweet, caraway-studded apple sauce with the chop) that distracted from, rather than enhanced the main event. Sprouting broccoli was overcooked; a dessert of deep-fried rice pudding lacklustre. Only a hispi cabbage, cleaved in half and smothered with anchovy and chilli, flew the flag away from the meat.
But service is chummy and obliging, and the cosy, semi-smart space extremely inviting, especially in winter. So take my advice. Go when you want the quality of a meal made with meat from your friendly artisanal butcher, but none of the faff. Oh and before you leave – have a closer look at that wallpaper – those are some very naughty cows.