The Montpellier Public House Part Two
The Montpellier Public House, yes I know I blogged about it last week but that isn’t the end of the story. There were so many dishes that we wanted to try that on our way out we booked a table for the following week. This time the aim was to eat mains and desserts.
One of the main draw cards for the return trip was the pigs head. I have never eaten a whole pigs head before and the idea of it really appealed to me (something to do with my pork crackling obsession I think). Thankfully we mentioned this to the waitress as we were pondering the menu and she informed us that they only have two pigs heads each night so she would secure the order while we were deciding on the rest of the order. This is a tip worth noting if you are also keen on pigs head as there is a high probability that the pigs head will sell out.
Our second visit was a Friday night. I’m pretty sure the restaurant was full, so another note worthy tip is to book ahead if you want to eat in the restaurant. Failing that of course there is the bar area downstairs that is serving an equally tempting but slightly different menu to upstairs. Same style of cooking but different options like pork pie, pigeon scotched eggs or veal cheek. (I can feel a third trip coming on).
The only downside to dining on the Friday was the waiting time to order. The staff were run off their feet which meant after securing our pigs head there was a rather long wait to place the rest of our order. I was hungry. I don’t like to wait. I won’t go back on a Friday night.
So when it came to ordering we ummed and aahed over the menu and once again were seduced by the entrees. We figured as there were three people this time we could probably share two entrees, one main and save some room for dessert. So we plumped for the Montpellier brawn with crisp ears and tails ($18) and the salad of spanner crab, mussel, cos, fennel and dill ($20).
The brawn was more of a terrine than what I know as brawn. I always thought brawn was meat from the pigs head and/or trotters suspended in gelatinous pork jelly. There was no visible jelly, instead it was layers of meltingly tender meat and vegetables. A delicious dish, which should perhaps be renamed. The ears and tails were better than expected. I thought they might be gelatinous, but they actually had the taste and texture of meat, and who can resist anything that is breaded and fried?
I couldn’t eat the second entrée as I have an allergy to mussels but I was informed it was a lighter alternative to all of the other dishes we have tried. A generous serve of crab, with large juicy mussels (no shells for those that don’t like getting messy) and apparently the dill made the dish.
And then came the centre piece, the pigs head ($48). This may be a little daunting for some but don’t be put off. There was plenty of meat and crispy crackling. The pigs head is brined before it is cooked, making another dish with super tender meat. So often I go to restaurants and I am disappointed with the roasts, but there is nothing to disappoint here. There was plenty of crispy crackling, although despite looks, not all of the crackling was edible. The roasts are served whole so that they can be carved at the table which adds a real sense of occasion.
Served with the pigs had is bubble and squeak, a mixture of mashed potato, cabbage, and carrots. I’m always a sucker for roast potatoes, so if I’d been cooking this at home I would serve with roasties, but I actually enjoyed the mash for a change and it helped to cut through the rich pork meat.
And there we have it, the three of us overindulged on pork, and again were too full for dessert. I hate to say it it, but it’s not over yet…
2 pigs trotters
500g pork bones (I used the ribs from my last pork belly)
2 carrots chopped
1 onion roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 tsp black peppercorns
Put all the ingredients in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 4 hours, remove the meat and veg and boil the stock until it is reduced to about 500ml. Once the trotters and ribs are cool enough to handle, pick the meat from the bones. Season the stock to taste, layer the meat in a terrine dish then pour over the stock and refrigerate until set. Serve with toast.