lamb salad with pomegranate and mint. or how to get a doggie bag from drapers arms.

went to the refurbished drapers arms up the road on friday night ( it used to be a lovely pub before the owners apparently had a few disagreements and it all went horribly wrong. now it's back, under new management (fay maschler's son - now that's brave) and painted a weird bluey-green colour, the kind you used to see in school polyclinics when we were kids. looks nice though - it's a lovely building and you'd have to borderline blind to get it wrong.

can't tell you much about the food though. had a globe artichoke to start with, which was lovely in a pointless, globe artichoke-y kind of a way. these things probably tell you a fair bit about a person's attitude to food - and i could extrapolate this into some great thesis about attitude to life too, but i won't, 'cos it'd be bollocks. but there definitely are people who can be bothered to peel the leaves away painstakingly, one by one and dip each into the dressing, and suck. i thought i was one of those people. you know, chat, have a glass of wine, nibble on an artichoke...but no, half-way through, i just wanted the good bits: skip the sucking and the peeling and the chatting and just give me the bloody edible part.

i digress. the reason why i can't tell you much about the food is because we looked at the menu, saw the lamb shoulder for 3-4 people, decided it was written with dieting girls in mind and we could ask for a doggie bag anyway, and proceeded to order the whole thing. so i have no idea how anything other than the lamb tastes. i can tell you there was a lot of fish on the menu, and the starters were mostly of the cheeky 'can prepare in advance' variety.

now when i say the lamb was big, you'll have no idea of just how big i mean. draper's arms will do themselves out of business if they carry on like this. or their staff will get fat on leftover lamb. this can serve six people, easy. and i mean six people like us, what a friend called 'hardened carnivores'.

there was an uncomfortable moment when everyone stared at our table. which was, of course, too small for the giant plate that arrived. we didn't bother ordering anything else - and they didn't ask. the waitress (a bit snooty, to be honest, considering we've just racked up a bill 3 times the size we should have done) said to let her know if we wanted some potatoes or bread in an 'ironic' kind of a way.

so we ate. and ate. and ate. so much i had the momentary meat blindness towards the end. you know that feeling when you are so full of protein that you can't quite see properly. it goes quickly though - and weirdly, we went home not totally stuffed. (that's what happens when you don't eat bread.)

the next day, reconciled with the idea of eating lamb all weekend, we thought we'd make a salad we made once in the past. it's a nigella lawson recipe - one of the few i've ever made, probably. how that woman became famous is not beyond me but in my personal chef hierarchy, she's somewhere down there with anthony worral thompson.

not really a recipe this, either. more a suggestion about how to eat this kind of slow-cooked lamb.

basically, if cold, you have to warm it in the oven, then tear it into chunks and sprinkle with chopped mint and pomegranate seeds. that's it. we ate it with some griddled aubergines - there's something about lamb and aubergines that just works - and some yoghurt, seasoned lightly and spiked with a bit of chopped mint. lovely. you could make a little stack of aubergine slice, topped with lamb, drizzled with the yoghurt dressing.

next time we go to drapers arms, i bet the lamb will be on the menu for 5-6 people.


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