There’s not a whole lot that you can absolutely, positively count on in this world, but here’s one thing: when a restaurant has this on display in their front window, I’m gonna be going inside that restaurant.
If there’s a more glorious sight in the world, I’d like to see it.
Oink, as you might imagine, specializes in pork sandwiches. One of the more interesting things about it are the add-ons to the sandwich; to go with the pork, you can either choose from a sage and onion topping, or haggis. I went with haggis, because I’m in Scotland, so obviously.
You also get your choice of sauce; I had mine topped with mustard mayo.
It’s a pretty great sandwich — the pork is very simply spiced, allowing its natural flavours to shine through, and it’s nice and tender while still maintaining some texture (some sandwiches like this have a tendency to be one-note mushy). The haggis and the mayo do a great job of complimenting the pork, but still allowing it to be the star of the show. It’s quite good.
HOWEVER. They get minus infinity points for having all that glorious crispy skin on display and then not including any in the sandwich. I guess you have to ask for it? That’s ridiculous. You’re ridiculous, Oink. Where’s my crispy skin??
Though I would have liked to go eat at St. John — a restaurant that’s pretty famous for helping to popularize nose-to-tail eating in London (and the world) — it’s a bit out of my price range. You know what is in my price range? A restaurant called Hereford Road that was opened by a chef who worked at St. John.
Hey, when you’re on a budget, you take what you can get.
They have a set menu at lunch where you can get an appetizer, a main, and a dessert for £15.50.
It’s a pretty amazing deal, though aside from the dessert, nothing was particularly great. There was a starter of liver on toast and a main of bubble and squeak (which is kind of like a meatless hash) which comes topped with thickly-cut pieces of pork belly. Everything was a little bit too greasy; I don’t know if you can really tell from the photos, but there was oil leaking out on the plate on both of those dishes. And while the pork belly tasted okay, the skin was so tough I couldn’t cut through it even with a steak knife.
The rice pudding for dessert, on the other hand, was pretty magnificent. I don’t think I’ve ever had rice pudding that didn’t come out of a can or a cup, so my standards probably aren’t super high, but it had a deliciously rich custardy flavour, and the rice had the perfect texture — soft, but not too soft.
So the McRib is just on the regular menu at McDonald’s in Germany, and it has been for a while. Here we are in North America waiting for it to come back once every few years like chumps, and the Germans can just mosey into a McDonald’s and order it whenever they want. Like kings.
Obviously that’s what I got.
Let’s face it though: the McRib isn’t as good as you remember. At least, that was my experience the last couple of times that they brought it back, and that was definitely my experience here. Aside from the fact that the meat was rubbery and dry, I’m pretty positive that they’re not using the same BBQ sauce they use back home — and since that sweet, smoky sauce is pretty much the only thing making a McRib edible, that’s kind of a problem (the sauce here has a much more subtle flavour).
I also got something called Frühlingsrollen, which are basically bite-sized versions of the cheap frozen spring rolls you can get in the freezer section of your local supermarket. These probably would have been okay if they were fresh; alas, they were lukewarm and chewy. Still, they were decent enough when dipped in the provided sweet chili sauce.
For dessert I got the Caramel Nuggets, which kind of tasted like fried balls of raw pancake batter injected with caramel. I don’t know if they were supposed to be like that or if they were just undercooked, but either way they weren’t bad. They were obviously fresh from the fryer — it’s hard to go wrong with anything that’s sweet and freshly fried. Plus they come with a tasty berry dipping sauce, so there’s that.
The oldest restaurant in Berlin is called Zur Letzten Instanz, and it’s been around since 1621 (so, not quite as old as the bakery I visited in Austria, but still pretty darn old).
Pretty much everyone seems to be in agreement that when you come here, you have to order the grilled pork knuckle (also known as a roasted ham hock — basically a huge chunk of pork, bone and all, from just above the pig’s foot). I require very little encouragement to order a huge chunk of pork, so obviously that’s what I got.
The first thing you notice is the uniformly crispy skin (ultra crispy, in fact). It’s amazing.
Actually, the whole thing is pretty amazing. I mean, it’s a big hunk of tender pork encased in potato-chip-crispy skin. If this doesn’t look and sound delicious to you, then you and me are very different people.
It comes on a bed of cabbage cooked in malt syrup, which is a perfect accompaniment to the pork; the sweetness of the cabbage helps to cut the richness of the meat. It’s pretty great.