Gastro pubs seems to be on a mission to take over the world. Or at least London. I read somewhere that there are frozen food companies which specialise in selling them ready meals, which explains why there is always a flat mushroom and goat's cheese burger even on every aspiring gastro pub's menu.
But there are places which clearly go to the trouble of doing all the work themselves, and The Peasant is one of them. Downstairs there is a welcoming bar with a good selection of draft pints(from real ales to German wheat beer), where you can also fill up on snacky pub food from bowls of delicious olives to steak sandwiches. Upstairs is a proper restaurant with white table cloths, candles and a fire. To start, there is free bread from a selection, served with dipping oil and vinegar (we were only offered one slice each though). The menu is relatively short - about six choices each for starter and main. I opted for a casserole of pheasant with wild mushrooms. The red meat easily came off the bone, and there was a nice selection of interesting fungi. It was good, hearty wintery food. My companion has beautifully rare lamb chops with pickled red onions. I am not normally a fan of lamb (too often it's fatty and overcooked), but this was arguably the nicest lamb I've ever tasted. To accompany, we had green salad with a rich, balsamic vinegar dressing and crispy roast potatoes.
Price wise, the place isn't cheap - mains are mostly around the 15 pounds mark, side orders at 2.70 and house wine at about 12 pounds. They add on a service charge, but get bonus points for crossing off the extra tip space on the credit card slip.
I think the quality of the food, and the fact that it's an interesting, often changing menu and a nice setting easily justifies the price though. It's a smallish room, ideal for a romantic meal or a small intimate gathering.
The Peasant, 240 St John Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1V 4PH; Tel. 0207 3367726
Tube: Angel; Bus: 153.