Blackfoot in Exmouth Market
Blackfoot, the recently opened pork-centric venture of Tom Ward and Allegra McEvedy, is a small venue in Exmouth Market which finds its success from nose to tail. Its front of house are knowledgeable and friendly – one can only imagine what kind of filthy piggy goodness they eat at staff dinners – and the kitchen, headed up by James Knight, are more than capable of handling a variety of cuts of pork. Then there’s the clear evidence that they know how to pair well-sourced meat with sensibly sharp, piquant items that offset the pork’s richness.
For starters, there are a variety of cured meats, some British, some continental. The salame is first-rate and full of the aniseed joy of fennel seed. Better still is the Whipped Lardo on Toast. Augmented by sherry vinegar and rosemary, this is butter on steroids; all future breakfasts will surely now feel limp and insignificant in the face of hot pig fat. If the latter sounds like a heart-attack on a plate, fear not, for the Pickled Cucumber, Carrot and Radish Salad excels in its role of a piquant bedfellow. It smacks your lips, beats you up and prepares you for the onslaught of larger plates.
Mains – which come out in whatever order they’re ready – are again snout-oriented. Pulled-Pork Tacos are hallucinogenic and undignified: full of umami-rich pork shoulder and cooling guacamole, they’re one step short of making you forget any other finger food exists. Blushing with the rosy pink middle of a pig that’s been treated well, the cut of Shoulder of Iberico Pork is remarkably tender and flavourful. The knives and forks circle, devouring its charred exterior and delicate flesh without a second thought. An accompanying salsa verde is as green as an intern making cups of tea and strong enough to complement the richness of the meat.
Finally, The Long Smoke Pork Belly joins the cabal of excellence: fashioning the black char of a cut that’s spent some serious time under the assault of smoke and fire, it makes your heart skip to a different beat. Again, tangy coleslaw and a hunk of gherkin stick with the policy of enhancing the presence of the pork and its Sichuan pepper and black treacle marinade, rather than battling its superiority.
Drinks and desserts do the business also. A small but well considered wine list and an abridged collection of long drinks – think Dark and Stormies – are joined by five desserts, including a plate of Lincolnshire Poacher and malt loaf. The Like a Key Lime Pie was light and sufficiently tart while the Lemon Sorbet with Pink Fizz is solid, if a little incongruously opulent for the relaxed, informal surroundings.
Throughout, the kitchen demonstrate the level of care and respect for their produce that goes in hand in hand with a high-level of cooking. Blackfoot might not look like it’s doing anything drastically new. It is, however, putting all of your favourite porcine treats in one small venue and pulling it off to an impressive standard. With such a strong menu, long may it last.
To book a table at Blackfoot, 46 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE, call 02078374384 or for further information visit here.