Crackling in the City @ The George Pub, Liverpool Street

07 Jun 2017

I understood there to be three different kinds of pub - the old man pub, full of balding men, propped up at the bar, nursing a fourth pint of warm Doombar, paying for their drinks with five and ten pence coins. The sports bar, utterly rammed, floor cluttered with trodden-in crisps and swimming with spilt Budweiser; and the beautiful country pub, full of well-bred, wonderfully friendly dogs, which serves a delicious light lunch and hearty dinner menu for slightly more than you were originally willing to spend.

The latter is obviously my favourite kind, being that I love dogs, a posh packet of pork scratchings and an excellent prawn cocktail with crusty brown bread. Not to mention the wine is always served at the correct temperature and not in a stubby glass with an absurdly thick rim. What a shame though, that there isn’t a pub that shows the football, serves a decent pint of wine (imeanbeer) and offers an appealing menu with a clean table at which to ponder over it. Oh wait, there is…

I was first drawn to The George pub, just along from Liverpool Street Station, because I had heard of its new Crackling and Craft Beer menu. What’s not to absolutely love about that? Four different types of crackling (yes, you can crackle more than just pig skin you know), and four very different types of beer, all put together – I’m sure – with much careful consideration. I don’t envy the guy who had to sit and eat chef’s many, many versions of deliciously salty and moreish crackling, having to sup beer after beer, trying to decide which is best paired with which. That is of course a lie, I’d kill for the job, although I doubt I’d be able to do it as well as the guy who was “landed” with the task.

What would you pair parmesan & polenta crackling with? Quite obviously Hopspur from Redemption Brewery. You might think that those two flavours, one pungent and lingering, the other… pungent and lingering, wouldn’t really work, but it certainly does. It’s a battle of the aromas, where both sides call it a draw and end things very amicably.

Pork crackling is paired with Lemongrass Saison from Partizan Brewery which is one of the most interesting choices of the four pairings, the citrusy bite of the Lemongrass extinguishes the saltiness of the crackling quite instantly, perhaps a little too suddenly. It’s an acquired taste, but one I’ve now definitely acquired.

Chicken Crackling with the Shoreditch Blonde from Redchurch Brewery and Parma Ham Crackling with Pale Ale from East London Brewery are a salt-lovers dream. For a moment, you’re blown away and fingers are automatically reaching for your glass of water, but the beer is a welcoming tide which pleasantly washes the salt away. Leave wasting room with water until the morning after.

I treated that feast like a canape (although you really oughtn’t), out of curiosity as to what the main menu had to offer. Courgette & Wild Garlic Soup wasn’t too watery or sitting under a rooftop of oil, as it often is. Instead, it was so good I found myself offering it around for others to share in my garlicky joy. Carpaccio was faultless, and our mains of Sea Trout and Spring Lamb were so worth the posh pub grub prices of £14 and £22.

You’ll have to battle through a bunch of suits and watch out for the stilettos of any female co-workers who’ve been dragged along to The George, they’re all there to catch the footie after a day of pretending to care about work. Head toward the back, where steps down will take you to the cosy restaurant room (that could be made cosier with a curtain to block out the louts and a couple of candles in the windows), and there, I promise, you will be well looked after by very attentive staff, who will move on any lost riff-raff who try and sit next to you in a second – and keep your bread basket topped up. Score.


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