Known for their nose-to-tail cooking, St John is a Meat Mecca; the Holy Grail of Hog; the Palace of Pig. Served with fresh veg and homemade bread, the St John’s crispy pig skins are technically crackling rather than scratchings, but let’s not quibble over semantics. They’re still little slices of pork fat and you’re still going to eat them all.
Knee-jerk reaction to first bite: Like when your mum does a roast with crackling. If your mum was an award-winning chef. No disrespect to your mum, obviously.
The place to go if you fancy eating some some deep-fried pork bits 230 metres high in the sky. With panoramic views across London, you can sit atop the Heron Tower, cramming BBQ-spiced pig’s ear strands into your mouth while glowering down at the capital like a cross between Daredevil’s Kingpin and a West Midlands alcoholic.
First bite: Basically like a really, really tasty Frazzle, except they come served in a tasteful wax-sealed bag.
You know that scene from Rocky where Sly goes into the big meat freezer with Paulie and starts laying in to a big rack of cow ribs? Well Hill & Szrok (a sort of Shoreditch-friendly update on those old-school City chop houses) has one of those! The refined ambience prevented us from punching any chilled meat but not from gorging on fried swine shards.
First bite: Ah, superb. Obviously, a pork scratching should not, in a rational world, be “superb” and come served on a plate. But we don’t live in the rational world. We live in London.
Jamie Oliver doesn’t like turkey dinosaurs, but he does like pork scratchings and whisky. Basically this is the place to go if you’ve ever wanted to laugh in the face of God by pairing pork scratchings with a £150 glass of 36-year-old Glenury Royal single-malt Scotch.
First bite: The smokey flavour means these scratchings taste nothing like pork scratchings. Still tasty though. These things are always tasty.
One of the few places you can eat a ham-hock sandwich before rounding it off with a bowlful of the leftovers. Made with love in-house and served unseasoned, these scratchings are best enjoyed with a can of Beavertown and are, no word of a lie, some of the best you’ll ever have.
First bite: Simple crackling goodness, like how Mr Porky’s should be.
Words and pictures by Will Grice
An international festival of light
Dinner in a decommissioned 1967 underground carriage
Half-price brunch and a HUGE fried chicken burger