[Howard here . . . Over at Ripe London, Jessica runs a dating blog thinly disguised as a food blog. Here's our own effort along those lines by Nick, our blog secretary, guest-blogging neatly into the role of tragi-comic wooer. Nick actually submitted this back in December and it's entirely my fault that it's taken until now to appear on the site]
It’s funny how the seasons have themes. Pigs’ ears have been a recurrent theme over recent weeks. First they came deep fried at Tom’s Kitchen. Next, Poppy, my beautiful date, who was to have been my next girlfriend, took me to dinner at the Pig’s Ear on Old Church Street in Chelsea. And then… well… the name of the venue turned out to be sadly prophetic…
Downstairs, the Pig’s Ear is a busy pub. When I arrived at 8.00pm on a Thursday evening you could hardly move. So it was something of a relief to find that the dining room was upstairs and, by comparison, an oasis of calm. Predominantly decorated in dark wood, if felt more like a Montmartre bistro than a boozer or even a gastropub. So much the better. Strangely, though, as I walked in, the overpowering smell was of vinegar. Maybe in Blair’s inverted, anti-elitist Britain, fish and chips are the latest Chelsea “it” food?
Anyway, as Poppy was 45 minutes late, I had plenty of time on my hands. The menu didn’t take long to read, but was pleasing in a low key, seasonal sort of way and left plenty of time to text my extended address book. Just as well, then that nobody was hassling me to order so that they could have the table back soonest.
Eventually Poppy arrived… and announced that the cash machine had swallowed her card and that even though she was treating me, would I mind? Not at all. Just happy not to have to have to launch second or third rounds of texting my address book.
For starters I had what turned out to be a bit like smoked eel on Caesar salad. Good apart from the green bit. Poppy had a slightly indeterminate – but by no means unpleasant - broth with some great big juicy prawns in it. She seemed to enjoy these. And I enjoyed that she’d gone out of her way to emphasise that her past was in the past and that she wasn’t carrying it around as baggage.
For mains, I had venison with red cabbage. As the venison was flavoursome and not too dense, it was a success. Poppy had a succulent piece of halibut that didn’t keep her from saying more good things. We washed this down with a bottle of Chassagne Montrachet. Not particularly well suited to all the food but still good. So much so that by the time we got to dessert Poppy had agreed to a surprise romantic weekend without me even having to think about press ganging her into it. I’m not sure who was more surprised. We celebrated with two spoons and some excellent hazelnut ice cream.
Eventually the bill was as unobtrusive as the service was discrete and charming.
We left as I had hoped we would. Arm in arm, Poppy a little closer actually to becoming my next girlfriend. Until 7.15am the following morning, when she made it be known that she had spent the night thinking about it and had concluded that she didn’t want a relationship. Period. The moral? Over-confidence is a dangerous thing and particularly if you’re somewhere you can make a pig’s ear of . . .
The Pig's Ear, 35 Old Church Street, Chelsea, London. SW3 5BS 0207 352 2908