Thursday, 24 October 2013

Pig & Whistle – Cartmel, Cumbria

There have been a few changes since I last visited Simon Rogan’s Pig & Whistle pub in Cartmel (see here); Head Chef David Hawkins has developed the main menu and introduced some fabulous bar snacks; the kitchen garden is well established and they have earned a listing in the Michelin guide.

Whilst those wanting to experience Simon Rogan’s food in its purest form should still stick to L’Enclume and The French (or wait for “London”), the Pig & Whistle and Rogan & Co. are a must for foodies wanting to be part of the overall vision of making Cartmel the North West’s “foodie mecca” – Cartmel Cheeses, The Sticky Toffee Pudding Shop, Unsworth’s Yard Brewery the award winning Cartmel Coffee all also playing their part.

Although, having chatted to Simon it is apparent that he has not had as much input into the food at the “Piggy” as he first hoped, the “Rogan Farm” influence is more than evident on the menu with ingredients such as anise hyssop, lovage, apple marigold and meadowsweet which regularly feature.

What Michelin say: ‘Comfy, cosy local in a delightful village. It looks rather like a row of terraced cottages and with three tiny rooms, has an intimate feel. Reasonably priced, traditional pub menus: cooking is honest and careful with bold, defined flavours.

What I ate:

I Pigged out with some Bar Snacks: the Pig & Whistle Pasty with Hartleys XB gravy; Scotch Egg with mustard mayo; Chicken Dippers with homemade ketchup; Hake Goujons with chunky tartare and Mature Cheddar & Ale on Toast – all were good but venison pasties with the phenomenal XB gravy were exceptionally tasty.

Bread from Cartmel Cheeses & Bakery – the Cheese & Marmite Bread is a personal favourite.

Middle White pork and ham hock terrine, courgette chutney and toast – I loved this terrine, wonderfully rustic and full of flavour; the same can be said of the courgette chutney grown and made on site. 

Pollock, warm potato salad, bacon, leeks, mussels and lovage – the lovage emulsion and charred leeks give this dish the unmistakable Rogan touch but it was the beautifully cooked fresh, flaky white fish that really impressed.

Pear & almond crumble, anise hyssop ice cream – with a coarse chunky crumble, this was another suitably rustic dish befitting a “friendly local” but it’s the subtle anise hyssop ice cream that gives away the fact you are eating somewhere a little bit special.

Verdict (Would I return?): absolutely; with Simon increasingly busy travelling between Cartmel and Manchester (and London?) it’s good to know that this little Piggy is in safe hands with David Hawkins at the helm - a proper local with proper food. 

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