Whole suckling pig. It's yours at the Four in Hand in Paddington for $80 per person. You'll need at least ten people for this porcine feast, but you'll need each and every one of them to get through it all, the whole pig carved ceremoniously at the table and served with what seems like a never-ending parade of accompaniments.
Iggy's sourdough with butter and salt in marrow bones
It was a fitting farewell for one of our own, off to conquer New York City and the world. Celebrating with food, and far too much of it, seemed wholly appropriate.
Our group was accommodated in the Four in Hand's new private dining room, an intimate space that will seat 14 at a pinch, but seated eleven of us around a large wooden table with ease. It used to be a staff dining room, but their loss is the customer's win, tucked away upstairs so you can make as much noise as you please without disturbing other guests.
Smoked fish soup with citrus, paprika and basil
Thick slices of Iggy's sourdough appease any early hunger pangs. The hollowed-out marrow bones filled with butter and salt provide an atmospheric touch. We're also treated to an amuse bouche of smoked fish soup, dainty cups filled with a fragrant both, accented with citrus, basil and a heavy dose of smoked paprika.
They'll happily bring around more bread too. It's tempting to dig into more but try to exercise restraint - there's pig to be had!
Whole suckling pig
The chaos that heralds the arrival of the suckling pig is bigger than any celebrity. He's carried in on a giant chopping board and laid down gently on a side table. Staff know to stand back and let the paparazzi of mobile phone photos take their course.
Carving the leg
As staff start carving the pig, the accompaniments to our meal start landing on the table.
Salsa verde and apple butter
There's no shortage of vegetables here. Executive chef Colin Fassnidge seems determined to feed you your daily veggie recommendation in one sitting. There's the delicate crunch of celeriac remoulade, the salty sweet comfort of cabbage with speck, and giant florets of roasted cauliflower, in varying shades of golden brown.
Cabbage with speck
Colcannon mashed potato
The colcannon mashed potato is nothing short of glorious, a copper pot filled with mouthfuls of silky smoothness. It's a holy trinity of carbs, butter and cream.
There are roasted parsnips too, fabulously nutty in taste and cooked to a caramelised candy sweetness.
The pig remains the star of the show though. We're delivered successive boards of carved pig that move from the leg to the belly to the shoulder and finally the pigs head.
Carving up the pig
It's fascinating to see how the pork changes in texture, fattiness and flavour as you move through the animal. The pork belly is fatty as expected, but there's a surprising tenderness in the shoulder too.
The staff don't tend to serve the bones unless you specifically ask for them. I put in a request and relished a couple of rib bones, still trapped with juicy and flavoursome meat.
Time to eat the head
And don't forget the pig's head either. Our finale of tongue, snout, pig's cheek and crispy pig's ears was ravaged with much gusto.
Suckling pig with crackling
The suckling pig was tender but the skin wasn't necessarily crackled everywhere. Some bits of skin had an audible crunch but other sections were still a little soft and determinedly chewy.
We managed to keep up with the delivery of each carved pig serving until the pig reached halfway when eating slowed down considerably. We were defeated in the end but staff will happily provide takeaway boxes for you to take home leftovers. We thought we had done pretty well until staff told us a previous group of nine had eaten the entire pig and asked for extra colcannon mashed potato!
Treacle tart with bread ice cream, house-made mead and cumquat $16
We still had room for dessert (separate stomach), ordering one of everything on the menu, except for the cheese board. The treacle tart with bread ice cream with crazy addictive, especially with the house-made mead that was poured at the last minute. The honey tinge of the mead added a subtle sweetness to the square of treacle tart, candied cumquat slices and scoop of nutty and caramelised bread ice cream.
Licorice poached quince with parsnip ice cream $16
The licorice poached quince had only a very faint tinge of aniseed but it was the parsnip ice cream that provoked the greatest reaction. It really did sing with parsnip, like a buttery smooth parsnip puree accented with sugar.
Chocolate and cornflakes $16
Usually chocolate and cornflakes includes a cornflake ice cream on a stick, but tonight we're served a deconstructed version - possibly because they realise we're sharing the dessert among us. It's a wild playground of tastes and textures, a rubble of chocolate crumbs mixed with chocolate mousse, slabs of cornflake ice cream and shards of feuilletine.
We had a fab night with wine, teas and dessert for less than $100 a head. And suckling pig lunch boxes for the next day too!
Four in Hand
105 Sutherland Street, Paddington, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9362 1999
Tuesday to Sunday 12pm - 2.30pm and 6pm til late
Sunday and Monday 12pm - 10pm
Tuesday to Saturday 12pm - 11pm
The suckling pig with accompaniments requires minimum 48 hours notice
$80 per person, for a minimum of 10 people
An 8% service charge applies to all group bookings
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7/20/2014 04:26:00 pm