Book Review - Cooking without Fuss - Johnny Haughton

By Mark Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

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Book review of Cooking without Fuss

Cooking Without Fuss by Jonny Haughton (Pavilion hardback, £20)

The sad news that the Havelock Tavern was so badly damaged by fire that it will not re-open brings an untimely end to a major player in the gastro pub revolution.

When the Havelock opened in 1996, it quickly became west London's answer to the Eagle. With its relaxed air and a blackboard menu that changed twice a day, this large, tiled corner building on the borders of Brook Green and Shepherd's Bush soon built up a reputation for its extraordinarily good food.

The Havelock was a classic example of a gastro pub that achieved the right balance. It attracted dust-covered brickies for a lunchtime pint of London Pride as much as it did local celebrities like food writer Simon Hopkinson, who was a regular.

I can still remember interviewing Hopkinson over lunch at the Havelock - a meal that ended with us sharing an orange and grapefruit jelly with Carnation milk, straight from the tin, as recommended in one of his books.

I also recall eating dishes such as beerbattered skate cheeks with pickled onion and mayonnaise, pot-roast chicken with leeks and anchovies and Norfolk apple and treacle tart - recipes for which all appear in Cooking Without Fuss, written by Havelock co-owner and chef, Jonny Haughton.

Haughton believes that cooking should be stress-free, as long as you're organised, and the recipes reflect this approach.

The recipes are all from the Havelock's menus and are essentially Modern British, although Haughton is happy to bring in other influences, cuisines and dishes (Goan chicken curry with roasted coconut and fresh onion chutney, and black bean chilli with coriander and soured cream were best-sellers at the pub).

Haughton's simple approach to using good ingredients and handling them with respect proves that great food doesn't have to be sophisticated to taste good.

He is also an advocate of using cheaper cuts of meat, which not only taste better, but also generate more of a return for those watching their GP.

There is also a handy chapter on basics and side dishes - including recipes for the famous Havelock chips and braised cherry tomatoes with garlic and lemon - as well a list of suppliers.

Cooking Without Fuss sits very comfortably alongside Big Flavours and Rough Edges (David Eyre's book of recipes from the Eagle), and Diana Henry's Gastropub Cookbook as an

important document of how pub food has come of age.

The Havelock Tavern may be no more, but in Jonny Haughton's excellent book, the recipes will live forever. Every pub chef should own a copy.

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