EURO 2016 HOTJOINT EAT-OFF: ENGLAND V RUSSIA
Representing England: The English Restaurant, Spitalfields
Representing Russia: Mari Vanna, Knightsbridge
Given the media’s minor obsession with the number of Russians living in or moving to London, you’d think there would be a raft of restaurants ready to serve up the taste of Mother Russia. It’s not exactly the case.
Potemkin in Clerkenwell, Zima on Frith Street and Borscht n Tears in Knightsbridge represent a vanguard of innovative attempts at bringing Russsian cuisine to London, but the rest tend to be eccentrically stuck in the Soviet era, or targeted specifically at oligarchs (Caviar House and Prunier).
Having said that, English restaurants are non-existent, apart from the admirable The English Restaurant, which is suitably named in that it is THE English Restaurant. Much better to go to a good greasy spoon or for high class fish n chips (The Golden Hind, Maylebone High Street is one of HotJoint’s faves).
While Clove Club and Dabbous get to lounge around in British menu lists, it doesn’t feel quite right. You want British food, just go to Rules, London’s oldest restaurant (218 years and counting), that has been serving British food since before Brits invented foreign people. Anyway, on with the match!
England: Devilled white bait with tartare sauce
Russia: Russian blinis with sour cream, egg, red onion, herbs
England: Steak and onion pudding with savoy cabbage and bacon
Russia: Siberian pelmeni (pork and meat dumplings) with grilled vegetables
England: Bread and butter pudding with custard
Russia: Smettanik: Russian honey cake with frosted cream
VERDICT: Both yummy comforting menus, and while Russia got off to a flying start, England came back into it and it ended in a draw.
(Actual result: England 1 Russia 1)