If there’s something a northern lass knows how to cook it’s got to be stew and dumplings. Good hearty, wholesome food to warm your cockles on a cold winter’s evening.
We had been on a diet. Which for two lovers of food is absolute torture. So, in a slavish commitment to this restrictive regime, we headed to Jack’s to sample that bastion of healthy eating, stew and dumplings. Well, come on, you can only diet for so long…
We’ve visited Jacks many times before but when we found out that they were opening two nights a week throughout the winter months how could we resist? Packing away the diet in the draw marked ‘whatever’ we headed down.
The transformation from daytime cafe to evening bistro with a mixture of low lighting and candles, topped off the with the sort of friendly greeting you’d be more likely to get from landlord of a country pub you’ve frequented for 50 years, gave Jack’s the perfect feel for a cosy, informal supper. A welcome refuge from the cold dark night outside. And an evening spent in the company of Di and Alex wouldn’t be complete without a bit of singing and dancing along to some classic Motown tracks. Have you ever seen anyone so happy to be at work?!
Be warned though, this is a ‘Stew and Dumplings’ night. Don’t come expecting green salads with a sprinling of seeds, this is big food for healthy appetites. Fortunately several weeks of enforced starvation had left us desperate for something hearty. So good it was that we’ve been back for more. Not just once mind, several times. (The sacrifices we make to bring you reviews know no bounds).
On the menu are a selection of different stews and dumplings all served with a generous helping of (butter and cream laden) mash. In the handful of times we’ve been, I don’t think we’ve eaten the same stew twice: dexter beef, yorkshire ale, carrots, swede & horseradish with mustard dumplings, spicy salt marsh lamb, aubergine, tomato & chickpea with smoky dumplings, root vegetable and chickpea with coriander dumplings…
More often than not, a stew served in a pub or restaurant will be heavy on the veg and light on the meat. I’m sure you’ve all had the experience of fishing your spoon around the dark gravy trying to find a piece of meat tucked away behind the swede and the potato. Not so at Jack’s. Loads of succulent, good quality chunks of meat. Baby GG doesn’t miss out either – on our first visit there was lovely, tender, melt in the mouth lamb with a bucket load of sweet peas. A really good sized portion for a little’un.
The dumplings are something you would expect your grandma to make and I mean that as a complement. Stodgy, wholesome, suety goodness. A postcard to a bygone age when all British cuisine came with a guaranteed heart attack. The cheeky addition of smoked paprika to the dumplings accompanying one vegetarian stew gave them a spicy twist.
Suddenly the winter months don’t seem so bad, which is more than we can say for our diets.
Di & Alex will be serving their Stew & Dumplings every Wednesday and Thursday throughout the winter months
85 Pellatt Rd
Tel: 020 718 39135
Last visit: January 2012
Cost: approx £20 for 2 adults and a toddler
Service included: No
Food: Stew & Dumplings and hearty puds
Buggy Ratio: Low but there are highchairs available
Outdoor Space: Yes (although it’s a tad chilly at this time of year…)
Will I go again?: Yes