Fresh in from Canada and eager to experience a proper British local, Annie McBay heads straight to the Marksman.
The Marksman embodies all the quintessential traits of a London pub. The dark wood panelling, cosy leather booths and moody lamplight all evoke the charm of times gone by. Creating an atmosphere that invites you in to linger over a glass of low-intervention wine or a pint of local beer while you study their small but thoughtful menu.
Like the décor, the Marksman’s daily menu celebrates the best of British classics. Meat pies, spicy mustard, peas and horseradish; these traditional dishes are elevated by the kitchen’s commitment to local, seasonal ingredients. The Marksman works with London producers such as Keats Organics Farm and Neal’s Yard Dairy shaping their menu around the best of the season. Three of the nine dishes feature locally grown beans - suggesting they’re making good use of a hearty harvest.
Expecting good things from the first public house in London to be awarded Michelin Pub of the Year, I take my first bite. Crunchy, sweet summer peas mixed with fresh mint and nasturtium all sitting atop a pile of rich goat’s curd, I am not disappointed. My boyfriend was told that the curried lamb buns were not to be missed so we ordered one each. The buns were aromatic and peppery, well-balanced by light and creamy yoghurt, and gone in a matter of seconds.
Any excuse to sample more food, we go for a third starter – ox tongue with runner beans and mustard. The meat is tender and the beans have just the right amount of punchy spice. The use of the off-cuts comes as no surprise given the affiliation of chef-owners, Tom Harris and Jon Rotheram, with St. JOHN restaurant who famously popularised the concept of ‘nose-to-tail’ eating.
Going with our server’s recommendation, we opt for the bacon chop with pickled runner bean chutney for our main. The chop is fatty and sweet, set off perfectly by the beans which are reminiscent of British ‘brown sauce’ with a hint of clove. Finally, we have to order their famous brown butter and honey tart - a rich, wobbly custard wrapped in a thin crispy crust. All the honest pub favourites, simply presented and packed with flavour.
As we scrape our plates clean, it’s 10 o’clock and the pub is still buzzing - friends catching up over a meal, footballers looking for a locally brewed post-game pint. It’s encouraging to know that these East Londoners are contributing to a better food system simply by going to their favourite local. After tonight, I think it might be my new favourite local too.