It certainly doesn't have the best reputation, amid claims of animal rights abuses and overcrowding on farms. But, as Ben Weatherall of the Blackface Meat Company explains during a five-course veal and wine extravaganza at The Jugged Hare pub next to the Barbican, such preconceptions do not ring true these days thanks to stringent UK production laws. In fact, a greater market for veal could go some way to preventing the needless deaths of many male calves of dairy breeds that are shot at birth, unfit to contribute either milk or beef.
It certainly tastes delicious too – far richer and rosier than your average steak. The Jugged Hare serves up a veritable smorgasbord, including roast loin with a tangy blue cheese crust and sweetcorn purée – all offset with a fabulous selection of wines, cheeses and desserts. Proof, if need be, that veal can hold its own with lamb, pork and beef in any number of permutations.
More and more London restaurants are starting to propose the dark, fragrant meat as an alternative course for jaded City carnivores.
Witness the superb veal chop with spinach and lemon which makes a regular appearance at Bermondsey's Zucca restaurant; or the pricey but memorable Milanese cutlet (with breadcrumbs – my personal favourite serving suggestion) at Mayfair's Alloro Italian restaurant.
On a more intimate tip, Soho's Mash Steakhouse offers fried veal sweetbreads as a light, intriguing starter before the inevitable onslaught of beef or lamb; and Zoe's Restaurant in Islington incorporates a generous veal roulade - served with its jus on a bed of French beans and Camembert – into its affordable, formidable menu.
And that's just scratching the surface. With a revived reputation, unique taste and a versatility that's second to none, veal appeal looks set to take London by storm. Heifer knows, it's a deserved achievement.
What are your feelings on eating veal? Is there a place for it on London's restaurant menus? If so, how do you prefer it served? Leave your thoughts in the comments box below.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Charles Haynes.
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