If you live a large city the UK (or have at any point in the last 10 years or so) you probably know a little about the Slug & Lettuce.
‘The Slug’…56% bar, 34% club, 10% pub . Not yet ubiquitous, but it gets around. Youthful, but not quite on the level of the 3:30 AM closing times and groups of people in their early 20s sprawled unconscious in the taxi rank, entirely surrounded by discarded kebab meat and regret. Not to worry, The Slug has long closed by then.
The Slug’s food offerings are on the main part Modern British (think curries, pies, fish and chips, etc.) with a few more…’worldly’ influences thrown in. As for the drinks menu – it ain’t so bad at all. They even had my favourite wine at one point.
For a bit of history: the first of many Slugs (and there are many slugs) was opened by Hugh Corbett in Islington, London – all the way back in 1984. Since then they’ve changed hands quite a few times, and come a rather long way, with around 82 to be found all over the UK at last count (a large number of these in London and the South East).
What to say? The experience is consistent and well priced, if a little bland. I’ve never had a bad time here.
Occasionally Tasting Britain will be invited down to try out a chain’s new menu. So, we head down to the (relatively) new one in Croydon to check out some of the food off of their new Menu for Spring/Summer 2017.
This menu focuses more on small plates, Gancia Leggero’s ‘skinny’ prosecco, some new cocktails and a new range of desserts called ‘Sweet & Petite’ (they are sweet, but not so petite…)
Here’s what shows up when we drop in:
Cured meat antipasti with slow-roasted tomatoes, pea shoots £4.99
Compared with what you get with antipasti in a lot of other places, this is a reasonable price/portion. There is neither the quality, nor variety of meats that I have had in some more pricey joints, but the parmesan shavings lift some of the sharp, ‘picklyness’ of the rest of the dish (yes, there are pickles).
The meat is generously piled up (as opposed to laid out in strips as is usually the case), which can make it difficult to extract the bit you want – not ideal for sharing. This is OK, not great.
Hot mustard rarebit, mature Cheddar and red Leicester, with honey-glazed bacon, on ciabatta £4.79
Though I am no great aficionado of cheese on toast (which is what this is), I must say that they hit the nail on the head with this one. The honey glazed bacon cuts like a surgical scalpel through the underlying ‘two cheese thickness’ (the richness of the red Leicester and the sharpness of the Cheddar combining nicely). You get two pieces, which are not nearly enough.
Crispy fried jalapeño slices with paprika sour cream £4.49
I’m not very keen on this one. I’d never considered getting deep fried jalapeno served with paprika sour cream/mayo, but hey, this is 2017, and even The Slug is upping its international, intercontinental game. The problem is that it’s just simultaneously stodgy (bread) and spicy (chili), which is, true, not a combination I have experienced before, but not one I’m keen to repeat.
Butternut Squash Lasagne – Spinach, goat’s cheese, pea shoots, roasted tomato, garlic & herb ciabatta £7.99
A generous chunk of goat’s cheese on the top makes for a pretty good start. I don’t really see the necessity of the ciabatta, which is drier and less buttery than you’d ideally hope for in any piece of toasted and buttered bread. The butternut squash provides a nice texture and slight sweetness that takes a bludgeoning from the lasagne sauce. I’m not sure if I like it any more or less than a conventional lasagne (which I usually find to be too much anyway).
This was chosen by my ‘co-eater’, who was unable to finish it. More of a winter dish, perhaps…
Asparagus & Pea Ravioli – With asparagus & pea filling, tomato, cheese & basil butter, pea shoots, omega seeds £7.99
Now this I like. The menu description reads: “Taste the sunshine!“. I can’t really taste the sunshine (what would that taste like, anyway? Thermonuclear fused hydrogen reactions?) What I can taste though, is peas. Pea flavoured Ravioli – yes indeed (there is supposedly asparagus in there too but it is not obvious).
Anyway, contrast this creamy, oddly pea-like pasta with the crunchy ‘omega seeds’, and little drizzles of olive oil, and you get a highly delicious medium sized portion of pasta. As I understand it, the Italians traditionally don’t do much with peas, so perhaps we could call this ‘fusion food’.
‘Omega seed’; sounds like an anime series, doesn’t it?…
Warm Brownie Bites – With whipped double cream £2.99
I’m not sure if I am being dense but it seems that they have confused double cream with ‘caramel in the middle’ (i.e the cross-section of a Twix). As far as brownies go, the price is unbeatable, but they are not quite so meaty and satisfying as a brownie should be. The caramel is not necessary and detracts from the dense, decadent richness that I believe we should come to expect in a well designed and executed brownie :3.
Kudos for attempting to tweak the formula, a shame it doesn’t work…