A butcher and a barber don’t make for the most obvious collaboration (not least given some uncomfortable Sweeney Todd associations), but that’s exactly what happened when Ruffians Barbers partnered with the Wild Game Co. and Bulleit Bourbon for their second ever pop-up supper club.
Ruffians’ Covent Garden store serves as a surprisingly natural restaurant, the shelves heaving with pomade and shaving soap the main giveaway that this is, in fact, an establishment typically more worried about hair than fine cuisine.
A 2nd July date proved sufficient excuse for an Independence Day inspired ‘Americana’ menu, with ‘artery-clogging’ the chief order of business. The Wild Game Co.’s playful menu offered twists on some of the States’ classics, without ever straying too far from expectations, striking the sweet spot of being interesting but never intimidating.
On the culinary side, the night peaked early with an opening course of haggis pops, the Scottish delicacy/abomination (depending on who you ask) presented in bite-sized, deep-fried chunks. The crisp outer layer offered the perfect contrast to haggis’ mushy texture, while a whiskey sauce brought out the natural sweetness of the meat.
Braised venison sliders, homemade coleslaw and venison corn dogs were all to follow, though none matched the haggis pops’ unexpectedly lofty heights. The corn dogs came close, putting the strong, gamey flavours of the meat up front, matched by a punchy mustard dressing, the naturally lean venison proving a good match for the deep fryer, keeping it about as light as a deep-fried lump of meat on a stick can be. Crunchy, over-cooked fries were the chief disappointment, a frustratingly simple thing to get wrong, suggesting that the chefs were at their most confident grappling with meat.
Bulleit were on hand to provide bourbon-centric cocktails, in keeping with the good ol’ boy food menu. A Rye and Dry offered simple pleasure, but the Kentucky Ice Tea proved more interesting – peach and apricot liqueur playing off the bourbon for a sweet but well-rounded finish, cut through by a refreshing sprig of mint.
With two successful nights so far, it looks likely that Ruffians’ supper club will be back in the future for another stab at London’s ludicrously crowded pop-up restaurant scene. It might need a bit more than its unique setting to stand out from the competition, but if they can iron out the kinks (and curls) it could be something very special indeed. Keep an eye out for this one.