Big flavours indeed. The Eagle, in London's Farringdon, has good claim to be the first gastropub, the progenitor of that stripped-back combination of good food and farmhouse kitchen furniture that has spread so rapidly. Food that asserts itself successfully in such an environment must be robust in flavour and not too finicking in presentation. It will be cooked with skill and dedication, whacked on the grill, bunged on a plate, banged on the table still looking and tasting great. Hence the title. It's high time the cooks of this excellent establishment passed on a few of their specialties, and the results collected here do not disappoint. This feels like the real thing. The flavours are mostly Mediterranean, with an emphasis on Spain and Portugal and a sideways reach out to Brazil. Potaje de Garbanzos
(Chickpea Soup/Stew) and Caldo Verde
(the great Portuguese national soup of potato, shredded greens and sausage) are highlights of the Soups section. A close look at the simple Roast Pumpkin and Red Onion Salad
reveals that the onions are roasted with balsamic vinegar to caramelise them, and that the finished salad is tossed with rocket and covered with parmesan shavings... wonderful. Fish and meat get a variety of treatments--grilled, baked, braised, for preference--while vegetables are, as often as not, roasted, all procedures that intensify flavour and add to the overall funkiness. Great stuff: irresistible food and stylish photographs of the equally laid-back cooks, waiting staff and customers. --Robin Davidson
About the Author
Co-founder and former chef at the Eagle, David Eyre was also a food writer for Arena magazine for four years. He has recently started a new business in Hoxton, London - Eagle food to take away.