Restaurant review: Autumn Yard Suppers, Hackney Wick, E3
- Credit: Archant
There are very few foodstuffs as divisive as veal. Many people won’t go near it, disgusted by vivid accounts of baby cows locked in small boxes and slaughtered without seeing the light of day.
But while this cruel practice may be occasionally take place on the continent, the re-emerging British veal industry seems to be a much more benign affair, at least according to Chantal Brown, director of Cotswold Veal who provided the meat for this Autumn Yard feast.
The essential problem, she told us in her pre-dinner address, is that to keep dairy cows producing milk they need to give birth ever year. Nature being what it is half of these are boys, which the diary industry has very little use for - and in the main they are slaughtered at birth.
Compared to that fate, 8 months (the typical age of veal meat) frolicking in a field doesn’t sound so bad.
Either way, it was a decidedly un-vegetarian, if not pro veal, crowd who wandered down to the Autumn Yard supper club on a wintery November night.
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With the event being a pop-up and being held in a disused warehouse in Hackney Wick normally reserved for all night raves, it couldn’t be any more on trend without donning skin tight jeans - but you could hardly discern the venue’s late night roots as we settled round our enormous, candlelit banqueting table.
Ian Ballantyne, the man behind the menu, is an chef on the up renowned for his playfulness and creativity - he flexed culinary muscles to good extent in this five course affair.
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After a modest canape of veal ragu, the first course proper was a fantastic spot of veal tartare, livened up with shallots, capers and lemon and duck egg.
Then one of the most impressive slabs of liver I have ever seen - it really was a big bit of offal, smooth as pâté, given a boost by slivers of smokey pancetta. Also very good was the grilled Jacobs ladder - a type of tender rib - which fair melted in the mouth with notes of chilli and hazelnut.
And Mr Ballantyine showed his high-spirited approach to food with the sweet dishes - milk granita served on a veal bone (naturally) and a creamy panacotta with hints of hay.
Autumn Yard Suppers is new venture between some of Hackney Wick’s creative denizens and they put on a fun, sociable and above all vealy-delicious first event. Look out for the next one.