The Lamb Shank Redemption


I love London.  But when I was here in March with my girlfriend, we had a horror trip for food. So returning this week was a nervous moment for my tastebuds.

Where should I start on the woes of last time? ………….Oh, I know. The shortbread.

We thought it had just been the cashier’s funny Irish accent that made it sound like she said “shitebread”. Turns out she just might have said “shitebread” and had no accent at all. Because it was. Shite, that is.  We bought it in Windsor, near the castle, and it was called “Elizabethan Shortbread” or something. Turns out that’s not just corny royalesque marketing, but refers to the actual era in which it was baked.  It was not sugar dusted on the top, it was just plain dust.

Then we got to a castle in Wales to stay the night and dined in the big dining room.  I ordered a steak cooked medium.  Instead of pink in the middle, I got a steak that was last pink in the middle ages.  If they feed Kobe beef cattle beer and massage it to get it juicy and marbled, then this cow must have been a vegan cow from the Sahara that has an aversion to physical contact.  I have had juicier crackers.

Not going so well.  We better just have dessert to salvage something from the meal.  Ooooh… bread and butter pudding. Except it was late and they obviously had no more fresh bread up in this castle in the high Welsh mountains.  Except, I guess, some garlic bread left over from no-one ordering the canneloni special that night.  Seriously, the phrase “garlic bread and butter pudding” should never be used except as a “Before & After” on Wheel of Fortune.  But we had to use it. There’s no mistaking that flavor.

Hmmmmm. My birthday the next day, we have to do better, so we went to an unnamed river cafe of quite some reputation.  Mmmmmm. Char-grilled calamari appetizer, with rocket and red peppers. Sounds good, huh? Yeah. Sounds good. But the chef seemed to be using the word “char-grilled” as a synonym for “cremated”, and for the rest of my whole meal everything tasted like BBQ brickettes.

Okay somewhere for dinner… what is something safe? Ummmmmm – Shepherd’s Pie!!! You can’t get that wrong! Oh and look, it’s served in a cast iron skillet, doesn’t this look good.  First spoonful – oh, this crunchy potato top is delicious.  Second spoonful – mmm, the potato is still delicious. Third spoonful – scraping the skillet bottom now – the potato is still delicious. But, didn’t I order the Shepherd’s Pie? I know I have an accent (and one that you poms are not so fond of) but I am pretty sure “Shepherd’s Pie” still comes out sounding mildly different to “side of mashed potato”!

So returning to London this week, I prayed to the food gods (Asparagus, Prosciutto & Cilantro)  for better luck with food. And, thankfully, I can report much better results.  A great steak and ale pie in Oxford. A pork & jalapeno sausage in Covent Garden that I am still drooling over 2 days later.  Fudge topped coconut ice (why did no-one put those together before now?).  Some insanely good scallops with andouille sausage.  The best ever Indian meal, including an exquisite Carrot Pudding and my favorite, Gulab Jamun for dessert.

So London, your reputation has been redeemed. We’ll put last time down to a bad week, or just dumb luck in choosing all the worst establishments.   You’re back on the good side of my Yelp account.

But all is not forgotten – it will still be a long while before I will even look at another shortbread.

— Irish

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2 Responses to “The Lamb Shank Redemption”

  1. Guod Says:

    who’s adam?

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