‘I ate my way around Fuller’s new menus’ – here's what happened...
I spent an entire weekend eating my way around the new autumn and winter menus in Fuller’s pubs, and here’s what happened...
Although I’m not a professional chef or food critic, like everyone else on the planet – I love food. So, when I was asked to taste my way through the new autumn and winter menus in Fuller’s pubs and write about my experience, I selflessly took the task by the horns and set-off on a weekend ‘Fuller’s food safari’.
Firstly, if you aren’t familiar with Fuller’s Kitchen, it’s a sub-brand of Fuller’s that’s responsible for the talented chefs and food offering in 200 of Fuller’s managed pubs. Each pub with a Fuller’s Kitchen uses the same seasonal ingredients sourced from Fuller’s hand-picked British suppliers, which are delivered fresh each day.
While each menu in a Fuller’s pub is different, there are similarities with the ingredients used and some of the dishes on offer. Fuller’s chefs have the freedom to put their stamp on every dish, which is why you will see the head chef's signature on every menu, but there are fan favourites and ‘hero’ dishes that feature on the menu at multiple pubs.
Fuller’s new autumn & winter menus
For autumn and winter 2019, seasonal ‘hero’ ingredients include game meats, seafood, winter vegetables, and fruits such as pomegranate, sloe and apples. Think warming comfort food perfect for devouring inside a cosy winter pub with an open fire.
So, without further ado, here’s what happened on my Fuller’s food safari…
Friday: Dinner at The Blue Boat, Hammersmith
After work I headed to my first Fuller’s pub, The Blue Boat in Hammersmith, to begin my Fuller’s food safari.
Situated on the Thames Path, right on the river’s edge near Hammersmith Bridge, the pub is a magnet on sunny days due to its riverside location and large outdoor courtyard, but I was curious to see what it was like in the colder months. I invited my partner along to assist with the tasting and reporting – of course he said yes.
As soon as we got inside we were greeted by smiling staff, warmth, and the sound of people chattering over the music. More modern than traditional, the pub’s décor is quirky and unique. We found a secluded booth behind the bar, right next to the wine cabinet, which was lit with candles and had a lovely cosy feel.
We were served promptly by our waiter, Shaun Brooks, who told us he was a service coach who has been with Fuller’s for almost two years. Service coaches are Fuller’s champions of service and provide training to other front of house staff.
After telling him about the task at hand, he talked us through the entire new menu created by Head Chef Daniel Anderson. It was almost an entirely new menu, apart from fan favourites like the beef burger and fish and chips, and he knew the menu inside out despite it having only recently launched.
With Shaun’s recommendations in mind, we decided on a starter and two main dishes. He asked if we had any allergens the kitchen should be aware of, and confidently recommended matching drinks for the dishes we chose.
Roast wood pigeon starter
We shared the roast breast of wood pigeon served with pigeon leg croquette, carrots and walnuts to start. The pigeon was perfectly cooked, tender and medium rare, served with a lollipop with what tasted like a cheesy mash inside. The walnut in the dish was a nice touch.
Confit duck leg
The confit duck leg was served with frisse, Roquefort, walnut, pear and pomegranate salad. The meat fell effortlessly off the bone, and the pomegranate and pear contrasted nicely with the gaminess of the meat. There was a lot of salad greens with it, which my partner didn’t like – being a ‘meat and two veg’ kind of man.
The lightly spiced fish stew included salmon, smoked haddock, mussels, and toasted Golden Pride sourdough (an 'Only at Fuller's' product made exclusively for Fuller's pubs). Full of flavour with a slight spiciness, it was served piping hot and was a perfect comforting winter meal. The mussels were amazingly cooked, soft and tender, and we didn’t leave anything behind…
Overall, The Blue Boat was a lovely relaxed dining experience with quality service and food. To try dishes similar to what’s on offer at The Blue Boat, click here to find a pub with a Fuller’s Kitchen.
Saturday: Brunch at The Old Bank, Battersea
The Old Bank is a trendy bar inside a former bank in Battersea that specialises in brunch, cocktails and small plates. The décor inside is lush and vibrant, and brunch is served until 4pm every day.
I settled into one of the cosy retro-looking booths and it took me a while to choose from all the options on the menu. Eventually I decided on the vegan buckwheat porridge served with banana, blueberries, coconut yoghurt, maple syrup and pistachios.
My breakfast came out quickly and looked as pretty as a picture – it tasted flavourful, fresh and I felt like an Instagram influencer eating my healthy vegan breakfast. I also ordered a coffee, made using Fuller’s exclusive Fair-Trade Brewer St Coffee blend, which was well-made with a pretty leaf design on top. It was a great brunch experience, and it would also make the ideal location for evening cocktails and small plates. View The Old Bank’s brunch menu.
Late lunch at The Hydrant, Monument
The Hydrant in Monument is one of Fuller’s craft houses, which specialises in craft beer, artisan drinks and contemporary food and sharers (not your usual pub grub). The décor is modern and quirky with firehoses and extinguishers scattered about, and the menu has an obvious Mexican influence, with a lot of meat-free and vegan options.
Since last night’s dinner was very meat heavy, I was drawn towards the vegan and vegetarian dishes on the new menu – tossing up between the vegan chilli with basmati rice and fresh guacamole, and the spicy black bean burger topped with vegan coleslaw and a vegan bun.
The burger sounded great, so I went for that, and I must say I was surprised by how flavoursome it was. You could choose to add sides – from fries to mac and cheese, but the burger was enough on its own for me. I recommend it highly for vegans and meat eaters alike.
For a similar dining experience, try Fuller’s other craft houses including The Merchant in Canary Wharf, The Conductor in Farringdon, and The Hercules in Lambeth.
View The Hydrant’s food menus.
Sunday: Roast at The Admiralty
On Sunday afternoon I headed to Trafalgar Square for a traditional Sunday roast with friends at The Admiralty – a beautiful traditional Ale & Pie pub with décor nodding to the Battle of Trafalgar, which also happens to be the only pub in the square.
Fuller’s Ale & Pie houses include a selection of traditional pubs, often in historic listed buildings, that specialise in delicious British pies and pub classics. Although the pub was busy, we managed to snag a table upstairs in the restaurant. I would recommend booking in advance if you plan on dining during peak times.
Proper British pies
As an Ale & Pie pub, pies take centre stage on the menu. New pies on offer for the colder months include the vegetarian baked cauliflower and Lincolnshire Poacher pie, the beef brisket chilli pie with guacamole and sour cream, and the mutton, ginger and apricot pie – all served with your choice of mash or triple cooked chips. We decided to sample the mini version of the cauliflower pie. The pastry was crispy, and the cauliflower cheese filling was creamy and nostalgic.
“It has a good level of cheese,” said one of my friends. Upon clarification, she meant the cheese wasn’t overpowering. My other friend, who expressed her hatred of cauliflower before tasting it, said she liked the pie, so I think that kind of feedback speaks for itself.
The pork roast was incredible. Although, I have yet to have a disappointing roast from a Fuller’s pub. The serving was nothing short of gigantic, with two huge carvings of south coast pork shoulder. It was served with apple sauce, tasty trimmings, and plenty of gravy. I enjoyed the Yorkshire pudding – it was crispy, yet soft, and was probably the best I’ve had in England so far (I’m from New Zealand and have only lived here a year, mind you…).
Puddings are popular all year round, but there's something comforting about a hot apple crumple or a sticky toffee pudding on a cold, dark evening. Although we were extremely full, we conveniently remembered that everyone has a special stomach reserved specifically for pudding, and it would be rude not to use it (I left The Admiralty feeling uncomfortably full, but I have zero regrets).
It was a tough decision between the sticky toffee pudding and the apple crumble, but we went for the cox apple and almond crumble served with vanilla bean custard.
The pudding was rather large – perfect for sharing. The apple was a tart, soft purée and the crunchy crumble topping had a little sweetness. We poured the custard on top which bridged the gap between the tartness of the apple and sweetness from the crumble. Perfect for winter, it was warming and wasn’t overly sweet. If you have a decadent sweet tooth, go for Paul’s chocolate brownie or the sticky toffee pudding instead.
To find your nearest Fuller’s Ale & Pie pub to taste the new winter menu for yourself, click here: Ale & Pie Pubs.
An enlightening experience
Spending an entire weekend eating my way around Fuller’s pubs was definitely a delicious experience, but I feel like I didn’t even scratch the surface of what’s on the menu for autumn and winter – which means my ‘research’ shall have to continue throughout the seasons…
As no two Fuller’s pubs are the same, I encourage you to go on your own Fuller’s food safari and taste your way around the different pubs. Find a pub near you with a Fuller’s Kitchen to begin your gastronomical expedition.
Be sure to tag @fullers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to let us know the outcome!
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