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Tell me, why am I doing this again? This week I’m reviewing the roast dinner kit from Townsend Restaurant. Or Town Send. Their joke not mine.
Another week of drudgery ended as we slowly crawl our way to freedom, and as Friday appeared I looked forward to turning my mattress over, cleaning the kitchen and listing my old CDs from 1999 on Ebay. But at least I had a roast dinner to look forward to, right?
Yet I wasn’t looking forward to it. Don’t worry, Townsend Restaurant – this is a me thing not a you thing. I do like a roast dinner. Just in case you wondered. But I also like the adventure of going to a new pub, often in a London neighbourhood that I’ve never ventured to. And sitting down with someone to talk at them whilst they scroll through Instagram.
I enjoy having a pint of beer, or a nice glass of red wine whilst sat on a rusted school chair that is about to collapse under my weight. Perusing the dessert menu and deciding that I don’t like any of the desserts. Having a walk in the pouring rain either to or from the pub/restaurant. Melting on the central line after the signal failure on the Metropolitan line. Cute women that also like roast dinners but don’t like obese roast dinner reviewers.
The list could go on.
Last week after reviewing the disappointing roast dinner from Drake & Morgan that I spent £45 on – and had to eat two nights in a row, I questioned why the hell I do this. Sam’s Chop Shop I only had to order one portion, but this came to £27.40 and was rather basic. Jimmy’s Popups was the best of the nationwide delivery roasts in this short spell, but again it meant I had to have two portions.
Most of the few other restaurants that do roast dinner delivery kits require me to order portions for two. But I am just one person (granted I’m nearly as heavy as two). And I don’t want a roast dinner two days in a row. Well, Blacklock I’d make an exception for. But nowhere else is good enough for me to want to repeat it the next day – plus I’m trying to lose weight. Yeah, seriously. I’m nearly officially not obese. Check me out, señorita.
Send me on a break, honey
I feel like there have been far too many goodbyes over the last year – this is just a break, not a goodbye. A short break too. I just don’t want roast dinners two nights in a row. Or desserts as part of a 3 course roast dinner meal.
I do feel that restaurants are missing a trick here by not catering for single people – they could make it more worthwhile by doing both an evening meal (steak) and a roast – all in one box. Alas, we are expected to be 2 people.
And there just isn’t enough enjoyment from spending £40-£50 a week, in return for average roasts by myself whilst on Dry Quarter (and you thought veganuary was miserable).
Plus not many people are interested. Not many people are reading them compared to normal roast dinners reviews from actual pubs. Yep, I’m an attention seeker and I AM NOT GETTING ENOUGH ATTENTION.
I’ll probably be back in a few weeks – just think of it like a similar length break to my holiday to Japan in 2020 which I had been dreaming of for about 25 years and of course didn’t go and British Cunting Airways still have my fucking money. But it’s OK, I can spend my vouchers on a holiday in 2021 that I also probably cannot go on.
Though it is possible that I’ve written this spiel of turd and turn around and place an order for a roast dinner in 10 minutes time.
Gotta get t’ town to get some washing up liquid
At least I still had this roast dinner kit to look forward to. Townsend Restaurant is somewhere that I’ve heard of – though there are many restaurants that I’ve heard of and haven’t got any further than that. Based in Whitechapel Gallery, an art gallery that I used to work 3 minutes walk away from and always intended on going to. Yeah, I never went.
At the restaurant they serve British food but interesting – bacon scones, fish stew, game faggot (I feel like I need an assault rifle and a MAGA hat when I write this) – and it all seems pretty affordable too. You can check a normal restaurant menu here.
Online they sell their set menus or their equivalent parts – though I’m only here for the roasts baby. You and me, baby. You being the roast dinner and not a human because why would I want to be able to spend time with another human being? Has anyone else become really antisocial to the point of uninstalling Zoom during this lockdown?
Options were rib of beef, roast dinner or pork belly – and despite my love of beef rib, I went for the chicken, just to mix things up a bit in my life as most roast dinner kits come with beef. Did you see the mistake? I’m amused enough to keep it in – I meant beef, chicken or pork belly.
Plus it was only £23.00, with delivery additional which I think was £10.00. And then I added dessert even though I’m never that keen on dessert – only because I saw the word rhubarb and it reminded me of Boris Johnson. So my bill came to £39.00.
What are you going to send me?
And then the delivery day arrived and I opened my box to find…
Yep. I had to do the work myself of cooking a roast dinner. So what am I going to score here? I might as well cull the review. Over. Finished. Nothing else to write. See you in May.
So basically I’m reviewing how much I fucked up a roast dinner from the very good quality ingredients that Townsend Restaurant sent me. At least they made the gravy. And sent me a pre-prepared stuffing mix. Oh and some infused milk and breadcrumbs so I could make bread sauce. You know my thoughts on condiments, right?
Horses for courses but that amount of bread sauce makes it a monstrosity. Roasties look banging though.
Welcome to the review of my roast dinner from the ingredients that Townsend Restaurant sent me
Saturday evening arrived and after spending an hour talking to a friend on the phone (something I haven’t done for around a month because I don’t feel like talking to people any more and after listening to him drone on about anti-vaxx “it’s only flu” crap it may well be another month before I consider speaking to anyone else), I opened the instructions on how to cook the chicken.
25 minutes in the oven on 220’C, followed by 40 minutes on 160’C for the chicken. Yet the roast potatoes were supposed to go in at 200’C. Eh?
I left it to chill out for a bit – the roasties and carrots were in at 160’C for a while, and I put the temperature up to 200’C when I took the chicken out.
The cabbage needed boiling – even Chris Grayling could manage that. The carrots were also supposed to be boiled but I roasted them, on the basis that it was one less pan.
And I made my own yorkies from scratch – something I’ve not done for years.
The one in the bottom right was when I realised that the oil wasn’t hot enough. Not bad for my usual limp standards, and yes I am talking about the yorkies. Yes you see a bit of rosemary in there. And I put some mustard powder in. Check me out.
Eventually, and I do mean eventually I ended up with this:
Oh hang on, there was gravy also.
I had kind of thought that I’d be able to do this in 1.5 hours, but it took 2.5 hours in the end. So I was eating a roast dinner at 8:30pm. Not ideal.
This really is quite a lot of effort – it is like cooking your own roast dinner from scratch really.
All the ingredients were good – the chicken needed a little bit longer (or I need a meat thermometer) as it was just a tiny bit too pink right in the core. The stuffing was tasty – though very crumbled.
Send me to potato land
Roast potatoes? Well I didn’t fuck them up too much – I overboiled them and then was too hesitant to chuff them up as I expected them to turn into mashed potato.
The gravy is the only thing I can judge from Townsend Restaurant really. It came out of the packet in a satisfying kind of sloppy poo movement – the instructions said to heat up until it got to a consistency that I liked, yet it just became thinner and thinner. Eventually I cracked and poured some pound shop granules in, at which point they all floated on the top rather than dissolved. Joy.
A lot of stirring later I eventually had something resembling gravy (you definitely couldn’t serve it at a restaurant!) – and it was rather punchy and flavoursome.
Would I recommend buying the roast dinner kit from Townsend Restaurant?
No. Just buy your own ingredients from M&S or wherever you shop though you should buy all your food and clothes from M&S to help my M&S shares rise in value.
I know that it sounds quite harsh because I think Townsend Restaurant have some charm and I probably should have paid a bit more attention to the product listing – it is a bit ambiguous but “potatoes” instead of “roast potatoes” should have been a rather large flag.
I just don’t see the point of this offering. Maybe I’m missing something. And it is annoying because this is the kind of place that my heart would love to give a glowing review to. I cannot even give it a score. I guess the gravy was 7.5 out of 10 – flavour triumph, consistency let down (or just my lack of patience).
So I’ve added Townsend Restaurant to my to-do list. Remember that, the list of places I intend on visiting? As I said, I think they have charm, they seem to be well-liked if not especially well-known. They also have that “mum and dad” feel to them – my parents are always appreciative of small lesser-known restaurants in more unusual parts of London when they visit.
It might not be in 2021, as I have a huge list to catch up with plus 1 hour 15 minutes on a tube in a mask…nah (I will do an east London month when we are free from masks), but I feel I’ll be at the actual Townsend Restaurant in Whitechapel at some point. It is on my radar and I’m intrigued now. I hope you are at least a little intrigued – maybe check out their set menu from home, for now.
It’s the send off
The next day I had the second roast dinner without roast potatoes. I can feel you judging me even more than when I used to introduce myself as a Tory at parties in London. Back when parties were a thing. Oh and back when you didn’t need to have previous membership of UKIP to vote Tory.
I guess on that note I’ll say goodbye for now.
I’ve made it to the end of writing this review without ordering another roast dinner kit so I definitely won’t be back next week. I’ll probably be back in a few weeks – once we are allowed to go for picnics with one other person which I think is 8th March, so that will be a roast dinner in my shithole of a front garden in the freezing cold and snow because winter is surely not over, is it?
In the meantime, I’ve got meaty delights that I need to order from Smoke & Bones and Cue Point – if you have any other suggestions then please do drop me a message on Twitter or something. Ta. Oooh I’m long overdue a curry from Clays too.
See you soon. Stay miserable. Don’t enjoy life yet.
Saturday roast and I like the way I feel…pretty gravy. Yes, boys, girls and people who’s alternative gender really upsets Ann Widdecombe, this week I ordered a Sunday roast kit from Drake & Morgan.
And cooked it on the Saturday. Cretinous, I know.
Speaking of cretinous, the people behind the annual social media vomit-inducing post fest managed to arrange Valentine’s Day to be on Sunday roast day. Thank fuck pubs are closed.
However, I did treat myself to some self-loving for Valentine’s weekend, and bought myself a box of heart-shaped doughnuts, at the price of £26.00 plus rather a lot more for my future diabetes treatment on the NHS, but let’s not worry about that because the government can just create as much money as it likes and there will be absolutely no problems.
Banging doughnuts – I did offer my housemate one but haven’t seen her for two days since. I hope she doesn’t think I’m in love with her. I’m in love with me. ME. And roast dinners. Well…some roast dinners. To be fair, I don’t always love myself either.
Who is Drake?
How’s your week been? I feel like I should be telling you that my week was boring, and I was just about to do so but then I remembered that I read that Grant Shnapps said that we shouldn’t book a holiday so I booked a holiday later that day. In the UK, of course, as fuck getting on a plane with a mask.
And then I spent £102 on two plastic lids. Yes, I really did spend £102 on a bit of plastic. Two bits of plastic. I’m sure my grandmother will be excited that I’ve finally spent her Christmas money though.
And after that, I put on some bright red lipstick, high heels, a sequin wedding dress, did a huge line of ketamine and laid outside Tesco throwing frozen peas at everyone with a mask on. Nah, I didn’t really – I don’t go anywhere near Tesco, urgh. Plus I’m really quite boring.
However I did also spend £45.00 on a roast dinner for two from Drake & Morgan. My spending is such that the Bank Of England won’t need to do any more quantitative easing at this rate.
So, Drake & Morgan. I’ve never been. It doesn’t strike me as a me place, but you know that I’m not in this roast dinner reviewing game for me – I’m here to make your life just that tiny bit better. I do make your life a tiny bit better, right?
I asked my most-regular accomplice what she thought I’d think of Drake & Morgan – she is a big fan of the place – her answer was, “it’s a very cocktail vibe”. I tried to pinpoint her on what I would think of it – her answer was, “ha ha it’s very Instagram”. I think she’s said enough.
There was only one option for a roast dinner which was a Chateaubriand for 2 people. Yeah, society is again expecting me to have a Spanish wife by now. Don’t even mention my relationship status to my mother.
Who is Francis Drake?
It did get to around midday on Friday and I’d not had any form of delivery confirmation which was slightly concerning, but a roast dinner did turn up outside my front door at some point in the afternoon. I assume there was a knock on the door but I don’t always hear it. Would be amusing if someone had a 2 month old roast dinner in one of those mystery undelivered (stolen) parcel boxes on Ebay.
Apart from the lack of gravy – hidden in the photograph but there wasn’t much to hide, I was quite hopeful. Last week’s roast dinner looked a bit basic but this week’s at least looked less Brexity…and how many roast potatoes for two people? I count 15 from the photograph.
So a pretty easy one to prepare this week. Root veg and potatoes in the oven for 15 minutes, the beef a little longer, yorkie for 4 minutes, then the cabbage and gravy were…boiled in their bags.
Boiled in their bags? That feels like something my grandmother might have done in the 1950’s to small children…sorry…to her rationed pre-pack nuclear war meals from when Britain was a truly amazing place and life was totally utopian.
Apparently this is actually a thing. Boil in a bag meals. Yum. Maybe someone could open a boil in a bag restaurant?
Who is Captain Morgan?
I guess you are all keen to see if I am now a proponent for boiled in a bag meals so lets start with the cabbage – this was soppy, mushy and pretty gross too. More pungent than your average cabbage – it kind of reminded me of the cabbage at Poplar Cafe. That isn’t a compliment – boil in a bag can bugger off.
There was roasted beetroot too. I’m not really keen on it, but as far as beetroot on a roast dinner goes, it was…there.
Things improved with the carrots, nicely roasted though I think the 15 minutes that the instructions suggested were insufficient. Maybe it is just my oven that is insufficient? This is a trend and the trend is your friend.
Roast potatoes properly felt like those from a pub – and I don’t mean that in a complimentary way either. Quantity wise they were immense – 15 in total to be spread across two roast dinners.
Alas, quality wise they were…mixed. They all felt very yesterday – I guess the key here is that I was warming them up for 15 minutes, as opposed to other roast dinner kits where I’ve warmed them up for 30 minutes – which suggests much more in the way of pre-cooking from Drake & Morgan.
One roast potato simply was towards uncooked, others just had that yesterday feel with a bit of inner softness – and no crispy edges. Quite disappointing.
The yorkie was actually good – large with crispy edges, and a bottom that could be properly softened up with the gravy to give it that softness that texturally compliments beef so well.
And the beef? Well, the Chateaubriand was an absolute delight to carve, let alone eat. This was silky feeling beef – they had already seared it, I just needed to pop it in the oven for 18 minutes which just made it nicely rare. Excellent, a really excellent piece of beef.
Yet there was a gnawing taste throughout, even for the parts of the roast dinner that I really enjoyed – my distaste not helped by watching the movie, 12 Years A Slave whilst eating the roast, which was a really difficult watch and was almost enough to put me off eating my dinner.
A tale of two gravys
I feel that A Tale Of Two Gravys was probably the name of a book by some famous 17th century literary genius like Francis Drake.
It applies here. For the Saturday roast and I like the way you feel, horrid gravy. Don’t you love it when you are trying to Shazam a techno track and it reckons it is Whigfield? Anyway, the gravy/jus thing that came from Drake & Morgan was enough for one person – so enough for Saturday night.
And guess what else? It was boil in a bag. I didn’t know how long for, that wasn’t provided on the instructions, so maybe I overcooked it? Yet it had that poncey, yucky, fruity yet slightly burnt red wine jus taste to it, and really overshadowed the whole roast.
To top it off, the instructions then said, “pour your gravy into a jug or straight onto the plates, no judgements here”. Like, who would fucking judge me for pouring gravy onto a plate? What kind of place is this?
The next day, I roasted the veg and potatoes a bit longer than instructions, and made my own gravy. I had no meat juices to work with, so it was pretty basic – butter/flour paste with a Knorr stock pot and some crappy pound shop granules to thicken it up (and make it too salty). It sufficed for gravy.
It didn’t improve the roasties, but everything else tasted much better – even the beetroot, with my basic attempt at proper gravy. The yorkie was actually sublime with the Chateaubriand and proper (ish) gravy.
Fake your morning
The Drake & Morgan gravy was bad enough to make me score this a 5.8 out of 10. I really strongly disliked the gravy. Interestingly I’ve just checked their website and they are no longer selling the roast dinner. So I’ve paid £45.00 to review a roast dinner that I didn’t enjoy that you cannot buy now. Why do I do this? I should really work out a way to monetise this. Anyone, erm, want to advertise through this blog?
However, I enjoyed my basic gravy version of their roast dinner much more and would score that a 7. The Chateaubriand really was exceptional, the yorkie and carrots good – and that is just about enough to work from. Despite the mushy cabbage and tired roasties.
It also came with Panna Cotta, which I tried but I didn’t finish. You may have realised that my taste in desserts, like many aspects of life, is a bit Neanderthal – I have a few I like, such as cheesecake, brownies or crumble, but even then I’m wary of ordering in a restaurant as you just don’t know how a chef might fuck up a basic dessert in search of Instagram likes – I once ordered a deconstructed cheesecake in a pub, thinking it would be just a basic cheesecake. I wasn’t expecting something so basic as a pile of cherries, a biscuit and some cream. For £6.50….and that was 4 years ago.
Well you should remember that your reviewer is from the home of the Scraps Buttie. What’s that I hear you ask? Well, it is a delicacy in Hull – it’s a buttered breadcake (or bap to you lot down here), with all the bits of batter that have fallen off the fish being fried in a fish and chip shop.
I’ll be back next week. I’m still not questioning my sanity enough and have ordered a roast dinner for 2 people for myself to enjoy (or not) over 2 nights. Maybe I could send the bill to the government? I mean, they pay for everything else nowadays?
At least this one is a bit cheaper. Or it was before I added dessert to the order.
It might be the last for a while, there are diminished returns for the cost and effort of reviewing these nationwide delivery roasts, especially when I’m not exactly having great roast dinners.
All hail the northerners and their roast dinners. This week I ordered from Sam’s Chop Shop in Manchester.
Since moving down south a couple of decades ago, I’ve spent much time bemoaning southern roast dinners. Why only 3 roast potatoes? Why so little gravy? What the hell is jus? And that the hell is kale/watercress or anything green other than broccoli doing on a roast dinner?
To be fair, you lot down here do have some good roast dinners too. I’m assuming that’s because lots of northerners moved south since Labour’s Great Recession that their economic policies had absolutely nothing to do with – it just happened – who could have predicted it? Also, see pandemic. Nobody could have predicted that either.
I moved south to go to university – in other words smoke weed and assess the meaning of life from Howard Marks and other distinguished luminaries of the time. Others moved south to teach you what proper gravy is. Now northerners can actually send you a roast dinner, in a box. UNPRECEDENTED. Don’t let me down, Sam.
I think I’ve actually been to Sam’s Chop House – who are behind Sam’s Chop Shop. Yes, I occasionally still go back up north and try not to be punched for being too southern. I don’t talk about Brexit. I do moan about their beer – in fact, when I last went to Manchester it was to watch the cricket at Old Trafford, and I had the not so glorious choice of Fosters, Carling, John Smiths or Strongbow. Who knew London had better beer than Manchester? Dry February is going fine, by the way.
My memory of the visit to Sam’s Chop House in Manchester isn’t the best. I think I ordered steak and chips. I assume that I enjoyed it but I would always assume that most drunk, fat, hungry blokes would enjoy steak and chips no matter what, unless they were vegan, vegetarian or Hindu. Sam’s Chop House seem to be quite keen on the fact that they were first established in 1868, so they really should know how to make a roast dinner with that much experience.
Let’s start with a moan, and that is the prices on the website. See the sale price on the beef?
That’s the price for the children’s portion. For the chicken, the sale price is an accurate price for the chicken roast (children only like beef apparently) though the “previous price” isn’t a previous price at all, that is the price with dessert.
Other options included pork belly and a mushroom wellington – and you can add extra roasties, yorkie, cauliflower cheese, mash, sauce…and some other roast dinner stuff but most importantly you can order extra gravy. Blacklock, are you reading? You can order extra gravy. EXTRA GRAVY. To be fair, I’d happily just spend £50 on Blacklock’s gravy.
The roast arrived on the Friday, via DPD – the holy grail of delivery companies, although on this occasion I was “next delivery” for around 4 hours. Quite a lot of plastic wrapping – and loads of that supposedly compostable packaging which is quickly filling up my garden waste bin that never gets emptied.
It did look a bit…basic.
Bit of grot, Sam?
I am struggling to know what to write about other than the actual roast dinner this week – believe it or not, not a lot has happened in my life since I last wrote to you. Last week’s review of Jimmy’s Popups was the first of the year, so there was a backlog of verbal crud ready to seep out of my pores.
This week I’m like, well I cleaned the oven at the weekend, worked out how to set up a MongoDB cluster on AWS, and made a blueberry cobbler. How am I going to insert that into a review?
Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you what I ordered. I went for the pork belly with the lemon posset dessert. It came to £27.40 including delivery – delivery charges probably roughly equate to TFL and service charges on a normal Sunday out so I didn’t think this too bad.
Sunday came around, which was another fascinating day in my fascinating life, and I decided to cook the roast for the evening. Instructions were easy to follow – the most challenging it got was to fry the pork belly to crisp it up – which I did for 2 minutes and didn’t really make it especially crispy. Actually I fried for 5 minutes and was supposed to do for 2 minutes. Maybe time to stop spending £10 on a frying pan every year and buy a top quality one?
The roast potatoes were slated to go in the oven for 10-15 minutes, but they did also suggest to put them in longer if you like them more crispy – which I do and I did. No instructions for the stuffing, so I just put that in the oven for 15 minutes, along with the pork belly after attempting to make the crackling crispy.
The carrot and swede needed heating up in a pan, according to the instructions, but there was no carrot and swede in the box. The vegetables needed heating up in the microwave, and the gravy warming up in a pan…very sufficient amounts of gravy.
Attention southerners, the above is sufficient gravy as set out by Sam’s Chop Shop
It was all simple and idiot-proof enough – and chuffing heck, there was a lot of grub, lad.
Let’s start with the vegetables which were, quite frankly, basic. Warmed in the microwave for 2 minutes with two chunks of butter to put on afterwards – the butter didn’t melt easily and also kind of diluted the gravy somewhat.
There was nothing wrong with the vegetables – cauliflower, carrots and broccoli, with a tiny scrap of kale/cabbage/something green and leafy. Just steamed/boiled and ordinary. And I have even less to say about them than I do my fascinating life.
My parents had their first Blacklock experience this weekend to celebrate my Dad’s 70th birthday (he does read this so feel free to wish him a happy birthday in the comments!) – I’m probably going to have to re-review Blacklock this year in the company of said parents if and when we are finally granted permission to live once more, just to make sure that they are still the best. I’m sure you understand.
Anyway, my parents both loved it but my mother was surprised that there was only 7 roast potatoes to share between two people. O RLY?
This was not an issue from Sam’s Chop Shop. 7 roast potatoes for me and me alone. Fairly small in size, quite crispy on the outside, quite soft on the inside – I thought I detected the taste of duck fat but that could have been from the pork belly instead. These were good though they didn’t shine especially.
The yorkie was decent. Fair-sized but not over-sized, a couple of minutes warmed up in the oven was enough, and it was nicely structured enough to hold the gravy – and be nicely soggy at the bottom due to said gravy dumping.
Does Sam Cam Like Ham?
I’d ordered the pork belly because I miss it – I’m pretty certain to fuck it up if I attempt to make pork belly myself. Yet I’m not entirely sure it works long-distance roasting either.
It was a small piece of pork belly – in the context of a huge roast dinner it was notably small. It was also juicy and succulent – yet the crackling didn’t quite crisp up properly, which could be my £10 frying pan that really needs replacing and very possibly upgrading. Do these kits get tested in chef’s kitchens or ordinary people’s kitchens? Not sure that someone who spends about £2,000 a year on roast dinners and several hours a week writing about them is ordinary, but you get my drift.
So it was nice…but it just wasn’t quite there as a finished piece of crispy, gooey, gorgeous pork belly that it could and should have been.
I liked the stuffing. Onion with sausagemeat and a hint of sage, I think. It had a nice texture to it and was probably the best part.
And finally, the gravy. Yep, very sufficient amounts of gravy – so much that I had to lick the remaining gravy from Maggie’s face afterwards. Good gravy also – a hint jus-like, but reasonable consistency if perhaps not tasting as gravyish as gravy should be.
I’m staying down south, Sam
Well I guess we’ll all be moving back north at some point, as the government continues to level-down London, sorry, I genuinely mean level-up the rest of the country. I believe that they are truly doing everything they can and possibly could to level-up the rest of the country.
Yet Sam’s Chop Shop hasn’t done enough to persuade me to head back to the land of £3 pints.
Big and bland would be perhaps an unfair way to describe it, but it was my initial feeling. Yet coming a week after a roast dinner with almost too much flavour going on, it is easy to make that comparison.
If the most important aspect to you in a roast dinner is the volume of food, then get an order in with Sam’s Chop Shop now.
It was certainly good enough – the vegetables really were basic, but everything else was good in a northern mum’s roast dinner kind of way.
I’m scoring the roast dinner a 7.1 out of 10.
Oh yeah, there was dessert also. I didn’t like the dessert so I’ll refrain from scoring that. Lemon posset, which I didn’t realise was kind of like lemon soup – in my basic and bland thinking I was expecting some form of tart. It came with plums which were sour and quite horrid – and shortbread biscuits which were biscuit heaven.
Roast is ordered for this coming Sunday…well…it is for 2 people so I might have it Saturday and Sunday instead. Also comes with a dessert that I won’t like. I pretty much only like cheesecake. White chocolate cheesecake.
Where the fuck have I been? Yeah, I know. It’s February and this roast dinner from Jimmy’s Popups (Jimmy’s Ultimate Roast Feast) is my first review of the year.
Look, I truly did everything I could, and continue to do everything that I can, to bring you roast dinner reviews.
I was intending on coming back last weekend – I was going to review my own roast.
All was looking good. At least before I put it in the oven…
Oh it was my birthday by the way – happy birthday to me. Do you want to know what I received for my birthday or do you just want to strip off and sing me happy birthday?
No, I didn’t really get that for my birthday. Do you want to know what I received for my birthday?
Yes I did actually get that for my birthday. Anyone else got a sister weird enough to buy them porn for their birthday? Not to mention the amount of roast dinners that she joins me for…well…used to.
Happy birthday to me
So this roast dinner from Jimmy…no hang on, this roast dinner that I cooked last weekend for my birthday ended up just being a bundle of beige bemusement.
More fail than fantasy – I used to be able to make a 9 out of 10 at my best, this was probably more 6.9. Jerusalam artichokes don’t belong on a roast. The lamb was a bit undercooked (good flavour though), roasted veg wasn’t roasted enough. Roast potatoes were kind of soft but just didn’t have the proper chuffed up edges – that was my biggest disappointment as I’m normally banging at roasties.
Presentation-wise – well if you know what I look like then you probably know not to expect expect fine dining presentation. Fuck, just realised that Jimmy’s Popups know what I look like as the roast was hand delivered. And they knows where I live. Guess I better be nice. I don’t want to give too much away until I get to it, but it was good to have a proper chef involved in my roast dinners again.
Anyway – the one thing I did get close to spot on was the white wine and lamb stock gravy. I was quite impressed with that. No yorkie as my housemate didn’t have any milk that I could borrow.
So, as you can see, I have truly done everything that I could to bring you roast dinner reviews. Alas, I’m even more out of practice at making a roast dinner than I am at dating hot Spanish women. Hang on…the guy behind Jimmy’s Popups is called Jimmy Garcia. Garcia. Es Español, si? If I give you a glowing review, Jimmy, does that mean that you have lots of hot Spanish women that might be interested in dating a fat bloke with shares in a cruise ship company? Cruise ships go to Spain.
Writing to Jimmy
The world doesn’t cater to single people very well, except in the adult entertainment industry. Half-loaves of bread are modern inventions, 2 for 1 offers for days out are for 2 people, and lockdown meal kits almost always come in kits of 2 people – or sometimes not even for less than 4 people. What about sad, lonely fuckers like me? Even the honourable Blacklock only do their roast dinner kits for 2 people.
And yet again, my frustration continued when I discovered Jimmy’s Popups were doing 3-course roast dinner kits, for 2 people. For £70. In fairness to them, they do offer for 3, 4, 5 or 6 people – instead of insisting that your household must have an even number of people. But £70 – on a good week my total food shopping comes to less than that – I just couldn’t justify it, especially when I could buy 5 shares in Carnival Cruises (next GameStop, bro) for that price.
So I wrote to Jimmy.
Subject: I am a grumpy, miserable, lonely, fat, idiot
Message: Oh Jimmy.
What about us happily miserable and single people that has nobody to share a roast with for the next 3 months?
I see your two person box. I like the look of your two person box. But I am just one person.
Woe betide me with my fat, ugly face and small willy.
But if you do at some point take pity on us lonely, sad fools – do feel free to make a roast box for one. I’ve got a blog and I’m not even asking for a freebie. Can you believe this? I don’t even offer exposure in return for a roast. I offer money, proper cash stuff, but I just want a roast dinner for one.
Lord Gravy. THE Lord Gravy.
Jimmy actually wrote back (or one of his…representatives did):
Dear Lord Gravy,
My apologies your Lordship – we endeavour to serve all members of the roast eating aristocracy, so would be pleased to assist you in your request.
Our chefs will prepare you a box for 1 this week, and i will pop you over a link via our payment app – Square for £40.
Simply click the link, and pay online.
I would be grateful if you would just let me know when it is done, and we will take care of the rest.
Your humble servants,
Jimmy and the team
Boom! It’s on! But then I remembered that I was cooking myself a roast dinner that Sunday and was really excited about it…oh for the level of hindsight that our social media covid experts have. I wrote back hoping that the offer would be on for the week after.
I heard nothing.
So the next week I paid the £40 anyway. It would be fine surely? And it sure was…a couple of days later they messaged me to arrange delivery – not even by courier, but by themselves. Impressed – but they know where I live now. Eeeeek.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Maybe I should start using Tinder again…Spanish wife in time for the next pandemic?
But who is Jimmy?
Urgh don’t get me started on that coke-snorting prick who could have helped my football team stay in the Premier League but instead was ALLEGEDLY (hello Mark Francois in a different way) too interested in the bathroom facilities of Hull’s finest hospitality establishments. How dare he?
Ahhh Fear And Loathing, they were sooooo cool. One of those on the back row is my hero, by the way. I should probably add before you unfollow me, that it isn’t the commie.
Anyway, Jimmy runs various pop-up style restaurant event things across London in normal times – you’ll surely have seen the little igloo things on Southbank in previous Christmases – if you remember what a Christmas is. And I’ve just read that he’s from Yorkshire – which is great – people from Yorkshire are THE BEST, but not helpful for my chances of being introduced to a Spanish wife. He does wedding catering though. Maybe check out the about page.
For now, the only thing I wanted to check out was their roast dinner offering, which at the time of writing is not available. LOLZ. I assume that you have Valentine’s Day to blame for this indiscretion. Oh fuck, my hero isn’t the fucking fascist on the back row either. Yeah my hero is the sweaty one. He’s an athlete.
Speaking of indiscretions – fruit on savoury. What are we thinking?
Yes I know this isn’t a roast dinner. Yes I know that my presentation skills are shit. Yes I know that my photography skills are shit. Yes I know that I have a small willy. Yes I know that my SEO plugin is going to complain that I’ve started 5 sentences in a row with the same word.
Don’t you remember? A 3-course meal. Now, I don’t do fruit on savoury. Pineapple on pizza? Get stuffed. Orange in salad? Get stuffed. Cranberry sauce on turkey? Yep, get stuffed – Christmas sandwiches are always ruined. The cherries themselves seemed soaked in alcohol, which reminded me of the good old days when I used to drink…ooooh one week beforehand.
The brioche was good quality – lightly toasted as per instructions, the mustard mayonnaise was tops, grainy and tangy without being too demanding of my attention. And for the terrine itself I really enjoyed the mixture of textures – the fat, mixed with the game, mixed with what I think were pistachio nuts – almost like eating one of those schoolbook charts of the different layers of earth.
But putting it all together as a dish to me didn’t make sense. That is probably more a criticism of my culinary uncouthness – I am a fucking roast dinner blogger, after all. I really liked all the composite parts – the terrine and mustard mayonnaise were particularly top class.
I need to get rid of that scrolling pink banner, don’t I? Also if you are reading and there is no scrolling pink banner, I got rid of it.
Popping over to the mains
There were instructions and I appreciated the matching fonts also. I’m in two minds as to whether to describe the cooking process and then describe the roast, or whether to describe the cooking process and taste of each part.
Let’s do parts. The carrots I had to simmer in a pan with the juices, however I didn’t have any juices. The bag with the carrots had lots of sticky bits of orange so I ran a bit of water into it and called that the juice.
However, simmering for 10 minutes as per the instructions left the carrot way too tough for my preferences. Good flavour – orange and star anise – there is no underthinking to the flavour from Jimmy’s Popups but the carrot needed cooking longer. Or more juice. Or I fucked something up, which is always very possible – but meal kits should be idiot proof.
Spot the evil? No, there are not Intel chips inside, but those evil little green things. I managed to pick out the broccoli and cabbage, blanched them for 4 minutes and boom – the instructions were perfect and my following of them was too.
Both were good quality veggies, with a hint of chilli and garlic as per the accompaniments.
Finally for the vegetables – the cauliflower cheese. This was a bit odd tasting, I’m wanting to suggest the influence of tarragon which is probably my least favourite herb. It looked good after 30 minutes in the oven, a nice crispy top, a bit of goo and the cauliflower was soft but not too soft. On the one side, I’m impressed with the ingenuity and the attempt at something new, and boy I’ve had many a bland cauliflower cheese. But I just didn’t quite take to it.
When did you last take poppers?
Now I complain about roast potatoes a lot. Really. I do. My only complaint here is the instructions – to cook for 30 minutes. Cool, but on what temperature? Given that I also had to cook the beef, I plumped for a middling 200’C, which will apparently be the average temperature in the UK in February in a couple of decades according to the Met Office.
30 minutes still wasn’t enough and I stretched it out to 35 or so – really I think it needed to be 50 or a higher cooking temperature.
So I didn’t quite have the crispy sides as ideal, but they were fluffy inside, tasted gorgeous from the fat, thyme and garlic which all combined nicely. And they were even good warmed up in the microwave the next night…which does make me question why so many pubs get them sooooo wrong?
No, my photography skills haven’t improved. Here’s one with the flash on instead:
Hmmm. If only I had bought a British smartphone. You laugh but there is a British company making smartphones. There is hope for Brexit yet. Not sure they’ve released a new model since before the referendum though.
So the Yorkshire pudding was pretty good. Soft and small, like my…nose.
The beef looked amazing before it went in the oven.
30 minutes on the unknown temperature was enough – my conscience wanted to sear it beforehand but that wasn’t in the instructions, though the instructions didn’t mention anything about leaving it to rest – but I left it to rest anyway.
It was pretty tender, nicely rare, quite juicy though a tad chewy in a couple of spots.
Finally, the jus, which just needed warming up. This was quite rich and flavoursome, but didn’t take over the meal. Good consistency and enough for one person – though given that I stretched this into two roast dinners, I had to make my own gravy the second night. When is there ever enough gravy? Well…jus in this case.
Yeah there is still more to read…
Overall I…hang on. Dessert.
I was too stuffed to eat it on the Sunday night after two courses so saved this for the next night – eating just before going to bed like all proper obese people do.
You know, I’m not into sticky toffee pudding. It’s a caramel ting – it makes me feel like I want to vomit. 12 pints of beer, 6 pieces of fried chicken and a large chocolate bar – no problem. Tiny bit of caramel on a Twix? Bluergh.
Those who are fans of sticky toffee pudding like my pornographic birthday present buying sister will be in love. But you know what? It even made me reassess my dessert life. This was really, really good – the sponge just had that little crisp around the edge once warmed up that satisfied my textural desires, the caramel sauce didn’t really make me feel queasy and the clotted cream just made it sublime.
You might make a sticky toffee pudding fan out of me.
So, overall this was really enjoyable. Lots of thought, quality and flavour throughout the 3 course meal.
Sure, it didn’t always work for me but that’s more a me thing – cherries on a game terrine, peas which are truly the Boris Johnson vegetable, along with my undeserved and now reconsidered distrust of sticky toffee pudding.
And I do think the instructions need to be made a bit more idiot-proof. Maybe you might also be overwhelmed by rather a lot of plastic packaging, but I’m a fan of plastic as long as people actually use a bin – and don’t litter.
There are far more positives though – loved the game terrine and need to know how to make one. Mustard mayonnaise was banging. Roast potatoes were actually really good. Lots of flavour throughout and the advantage of having a proper chef cook my roast dinner showed throughout. I was impressed. And they even made me reconsider my distrust of sticky toffee pudding.
Not to mention that they went out of their way to hand-deliver a roast dinner for two people (starters and desserts for one) after I wrote to them, and at a good price – I feel embarrassed even daring to write anything other than effusive praise.
If I’m reviewing the whole experience then I’d score it an 8.20 out of 10. If I’m reviewing the roast dinner then I’m going for a 7.90 out of 10.
I reckon this won’t be my last experience with Jimmy’s Popups. Especially once lockdown is over and we can once again eat out.
For now, I’d recommend that you check out the boxes on Jimmy’s Popups website – at the time of writing they have a tapas box and a Valentine’s Box – I’d like to think that they’ll be offering roasts again soon as they have a weekly changing menu.
I’m pleasantly impressed.
I’ll be back next week. Yes, I have another roast dinner on the way – this time from ooooop north.
Welcome to the official, glorious, world-beating Roast Dinners In London awards for 2020. Fuck me. Where do we start?
I guess one bright spot of the pandemic is that I have less roast dinners to think about for the awards this year. Manually I counted 23 roast dinners, but my automated count on WordPress says 25. So either I cannot count or I cannot code.
And therefore with a bit of luck, I will have less to awards to write about, less contenders for each award to think about. For 2019’s awards, I wrote nearly 3,800 words from 47 roast dinners reviewed (or 48 according to my automated count).
By the way, I’m not counting any form of takeaway or cook at home roasts. Well I probably won’t get to the end of this blog without mentioning Blacklock’s delicious finish at home roast in some form or other, but for the purpose of these annual awards, it is for roast dinners in a pub or restaurant. In London. OK?
Speaking of which, time to talk toilets…
With thanks to everyone that told me to wear a mask to avoid a second lockdown, I feel that there is no more appropriate place to start the Roast Dinners in London awards for 2020 than in the toilets. Granted, I did for the 2019 awards also.
Rotunda in King’s Cross is worth a mention for having a wall of toilet rolls available in the peak pre-pandemic toilet roll shortage phase – before you ask, some of us were well-prepared for a no deal Brexit at the end of 2019 and had plenty of toilet roll, so no I didn’t steal one.
However, the winner of best toilet should always be one with pornography (except in 2019 where I placed it second), so with gracious thanks goes to The Hunter S in Dalston. Average roast, sexy as fuck toilets.
How Much For A Fucking Beer Award
In a way, it is a shame to give this venue a negative award, because they supplied a very good roast dinner – some notably gorgeous pork belly, but fuck me, The Bull & Last, £6.80 for a pint of beer?
Ouch. Plus a disappointing dinner when I went back on a Friday night. Very good roast dinner though and the wine was surprisingly good value.
£7 beers will be here after the next lockdown that we wore masks to avoid, won’t they? Sigh.
How much for a roast dinner award?
I was quite surprised when I realised that I had paid slightly less on average for a roast dinner in 2020 than the year before. Granted, that is through my automated calculations which seem a tad Chris Grayling. Gosh I wonder how he is wasting our money at the moment?
It would be harsh to say that I wasted my money at The Grazing Goat as it was another very good roast dinner but £27.00 for 3 bits of meat?
It was almost as if they thought I was a Tory trying to sell PPE to the government. Well, I was a Tory. Was. Oh London, what have you done to me? Next thing you know I’ll be voting Drillminister for London Mayor.
Carrot of the year
Yes, the culinary award that every chef wants to win, Carrot Of The Year, chosen by some nobhead with a blog that about 11 people read.
One problem with writing the awards is that every year I intend on keeping notes for the awards as I go along, and every year I forget to do this by the second roast of January. So I then have to read the reviews. I mean, how on earth do you cope with reading this gash? Some of you are even regular readers. Not many, but some are.
Anyway, I spent an hour (ish) reading them (ish) and forgot about carrots.
And the winner is – Wood Street Bar & Restaurant. Yay. Their carrot was excellent, roasted to near perfection with a hint or orange – or ginger. Or both.
Plus I need to give the chef an award as he was pretty much the only person to say that he wanted me to write some.
Cauliflower cheese of the year
Ah man, another award that I didn’t think about when I did my research. Let’s just give it to Wood Street again, shall we?
Ah fuck, no cauliflower cheese. And that beer in the corner is staring me out for doing Dry January. And Dry February. And Dry March…well…let’s see how we get on maybe.
OK, there is a clear winner for this one in my mind, and that is The Bull And Last. Yeah, I know, I’m going to be repeating the same names through the awards and quite a few places will get more than one award.
At least they’ll want this award. Well, in the grand scheme of my awards which really nobody gives a fuck about. Want to see the dish in question?
Cauliflower cheese so good that even I could take a decent photograph of them. Golden on top with a sprinkling of herbs, cauliflower cooked to the perfect balance and a thick, cheesy sauce. You don’t mind if I just copy and paste chunks from the original reviews do you?
I know it was 2020 but what the fuck is this doing on a roast?
I guess in future years I will probably rename this the “get on a 2020 plate” award, or maybe something a bit catchier.
There were quite a few places that served me red cabbage, which I don’t think belongs on a roast, but some might disagree with me.
The Bull & Last (yeah, I know, them again…blame China) came a close second in this award by putting black pudding on a roast dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of creativity on a roast dinner as all the carrots do blend into one over the years. But black carrot on a roast…yeah I’ll keep that mistake…black pudding on a roast is just odd.
However, winner of the what the fuck did I call it again do I really need to scroll up award, is The Beast Of Brixton.
Yes, you see them. On a roast dinner. On a very, very good roast dinner but they are there. Baby sweetcorn.
GET OFF MY PLATE.
Well above expectations
Reading back my first post from 2020, it seems that my expectations for 2020 were not actually that high.
Oh man, gutted to have missed out on the Police & Crime Commissioner election. I’ve actually just changed my mind as to who gets the award for beating expectations and it is The Wheatsheaf, which was my first roast of 2020. You can tell how much research and preparation I did for these stupid awards, can’t you?
Back in 2019, I’d had a string of poor roasts from Young’s, so I wasn’t amused to start 2020 with the random number generator picking a Young’s pub. A good yorkie, decent roast potatoes, flavoursome pork and an impressive leek & bacon combo made this a damn fine way to start 2020.
Yeah, served in a tin but what I wouldn’t swap right now for the chance of a roast dinner in a tin.
And no, I haven’t wished anyone a Happy New Year. Not even my mum. Just a New Year.
Well below expectations
So we move onto the well below expectations award, sponsored by 2020.
Oh I’ve already used that. Hang on…
So delighted that we avoided that third lockdown, cannot wait for the roast dinner tomorrow. Gosh, random number generator wanted me to go to Galvin La Chapelle tomorrow too.
Your eyes are rolling, aren’t they? Don’t worry, this is the halfway point. Roughly. It will soon be over, you’ll have finished reading this shite by the end of March, by which point we’ll never be allowed to take our masks off and roast dinners will be squeezed up our anus in a restaurant.
Good job I’m not selling overpriced gimp masks. I should really do these searches on private browsing mode.
Shall we start this award again?
Well below expectations
So there is an award for worst roast dinner of the year, which this is not. This is for the roast dinner that didn’t come anywhere near expectations.
I have two places in mind. One is 24 The Oval, which several people recommended to me, many people rate and is the sister restaurant to the excellent, Knife. Yet I already suspected that it would be a bit wanky which it was – so it kind of was along the line of expectations, but worse.
The winner (or loser) of this award is The Gun in Spitalfields. I really thought this would be excellent, though I’ve just remembered that my first recommendation of The Gun was by an Instagram page that now does “generously invited” posts. Well…did do “generously invited” posts. Yes I do get invited for freebies. No I haven’t accepted any in the last two years.
Anyway, before I get too far off tangent, the chicken, roast potatoes, carrots, cabbage and gravy were all unimpressive – roasties tired and rubbery, chicken dry and gravy watery nonsense. They could have won the best cauliflower cheese award now I think about it, but too late now, I’m not re-writing that award.
It was my birthday roast too. Oh well, at least Boris has ensured that I cannot be disappointed for my birthday this year.
One day, my friends. One day…Priti Patel will replace Boris Johnson.
Best Yorkshire pudding
I might make myself some pigs in blankets tonight. Well, I will be making myself some pigs in blankets tonight. I have sausages and I have pancetta. It’ll be like Christmas all over again.
Except with slightly fewer presents.
You know what? Fuck Yorkshire puddings. I’m not giving any awards out for “Best Yorkshire Puddings” until restaurants and pubs stop making them hours beforehand and leaving them under a heat lamp. If you cannot make me a freshly cooked Yorkshire pudding, just don’t bother.
Even roast potatoes have had a higher success rate in 2020. Just.
Worst Yorkshire pudding
Believe it or not, there is not a shortage of entries for this award, despite the fact that I only had 23 or 25 Sunday roasts this year.
Yet somehow one sticks in my memory from that pre-covid era called February, which is from 24 The Oval.
It was shite. Dry, burnt and I hardly ate any of it. I don’t normally leave food.
Congratulations on having a Yorkshire pudding so bad that I actually remembered it over the others.
Best roast potato
Believe it or not, there are a few to consider here. The Alma stands out for providing not only good roasties but a shocking amount – 5! Chuffing heck.
One notch ahead in second place for this coveted award is Wood Street Bar And Restaurant. Two were pretty crispy on the outside, all were pretty fluffy on the inside – and they tasted really good…not like ordinary roast potatoes.
Yet the award goes to…Brasserie Blanc. Honestly. Yeah, I know you are reading, Matt, but you’ve already won the award for carrot of the year, what more do you want?
It wasn’t a great roast at all, so I wouldn’t say to make it your first choice Sunday roast when pubs re-open in September 2027 – however the roast potatoes were close to perfection. Soft inside, a crisp bobbliness on the outside with a pepper flavour. Superb. And this was pre-covid so I wasn’t quite so worried about giving places a slating back then.
Worst roast potato
Believe it or not, there are a few to consider here.
I should probably give it to the winner of “Worst Roast Dinner 2020”, which I am trying to avoid naming until said award. Which is a good couple of hours away. Two hours writing, that is – not reading. Chill out, I don’t have one of those sneaky ever-shrinking scroll bars that make you think you are reading a short article, then keeps getting smaller and smaller as you reveal more content. Possibly the second worst thing on the internet after Donald Trump’s Twitter account. A HA HA HA HA. See ya.
The Bridge in Greenford had good contenders – too large, too undercooked in the middle though probably cooked after lockdown and not before. The Bull And Last (them again) served me small, rubbery things featuring zero joy.
Yet the winner is from those pre-covid times where I actually used to go to south London, The Herne Tavern. That I didn’t finish a roast potato is probably everything you need to know, they were large, not properly cooked-through and one even had a hint of green inside. Gosh, this is starting to make me hope for a fourth lockdown.
He will go to prison, won’t he?
Hey vegans. Don’t get too excited, most of the meat that I had this year was stunningly gorgeous. Or at least good.
The dry chicken at The Gun is the runner-up for this award – though the vegan option was even more miserable.
However, this award again goes to The Herne Tavern – what a lucky pub, winning both worst roast potato and worst meat awards, in the world-beatingly worst year that was 2020.
It was actually really quite flavoursome and would have been really good had it been served in a time period close to when it was made. Alas it was tired and, away from the more juicy fatty parts, it was dry – it really felt like it had been cooked the day before or at least spent several hours under a heat lamb being dried out.
Gosh I love a good moan. Something that you might think 2020 has been great for, except that I’m more in control of my life as I spend 99.5% of it in my bedroom so there is less chance of coming across things to moan about that are not in my bedroom.
The only one that really comes to mind as a winner for the Brexiters doing Veganuary award is 24 The Oval. So little (raw) beef on my plate but the French people sat on the table next to us had 3 times as much on their plates.
Was this Brexit?
One that really sticks in my mind is the venison that I had from Mac & Wild – a Roast Dinners In London first – it isn’t often I get the chance to divert from the usual choice of meats. It was divine and the thinner slices almost melted in my mouth.
Yet the winner is The Draper’s Arms. The pork belly there rescued what was a fairly disappointing roast, replete with proper mask nazism (possibly a good thing to you?!) as the young girls were pretty damn strict on the rules, every time someone “forgot” to wear one to prevent the second lockdown. Or was it third?
Enforced condiment – annoying. But even that didn’t take the shine off what was a glorious, sexual lump of pork belly. The crackling was close to perfect, crunchy and gooey, and just melded into the pork itself. So, so, so damn sexy. Even sexier than a Spanish vaccine.
Phew, managed to segue that in eventually.
You know, this award is kind of difficult for 2020. I actually think gravy standards might have improved. Roast potatoes and yorkies have got worse (or are just still often dreadful), but gravy has improved.
There has been forgettable gravy in 2020, including the piss-watery inoffensive gravy at Palmer’s Restaurant earlier in 2020.
If I have to choose a winner, then I will choose the one in a mini saucepan, even though it had some decent flavour to it. Yet it was still watery piss nonsense in a mini-saucepan. Ahhh southerners. Ahhh south London.
Oh yeah, this was 24 The Oval. Again.
There are actually 4 places that served really damn gorgeous gravy in 2020, that actually stick out in my mind.
However Mac & Wild are instantly disqualified for charging me £3.50 for extra gravy. Granted it was the 3rd time that I had asked for extra, but don’t serve gravy in a fucking thimble and I won’t keep asking.
It was seriously sexy bone-marrow gravy though.
The Alma served a very good peppery red wine jus which was actually more like a gravy, and Wood Street Bar & Restaurant did a superb proper, thick, meat-stock gravy – seriously delicious.
It had to be something to beat Wood Street Bar & Restaurant, and it was provided by The Grazing Goat – so gorgeous that I asked for a pint of it to drink. Well, that isn’t anything unusual to be fair, and I have been known to do a shot of gravy in a pub on occasion.
It was just super silky, proper northern, glorious, thick meat stock gravy in a large jug. So, so superb. Only a shade ahead of Wood Street Bar & Restaurant – sorry, Matt, but you did win Carrot Of The Year.
Worst Roast Dinner In London 2019
Oh boy, we are here at last. It feels like it has taken even longer than the Brexit negotiations to get to the roast dinner that I went to to commemorate Brexit being completed in January.
Why? Why did we vote for Brexit? Why did I do this to myself? Why did I take people here? Why on earth did 3 people actually come with me? Why have they not disowned me? Why has my mother not disowned me?
Well, I think the story goes was that I was thinking ahead to having a crap roast dinner to mark this, and whilst having a fair few beers with the editor of Londonist (also buy his book about all the London pubs that you cannot go to for the next few years…I mean, months), he suggested that I go to a greasy spoon for a roast.
A bit of research and one Brexit deal later we were sat in Poplar Cafe, watching as a crazy man actually wearing a mask as if the coronavirus was coming over from Wuhan, tried to get in through the window then started shouting at everyone for looking at him. Oh and we were eating this roast.
You know, this could have won many awards above, including the better than expectations award – as I was expecting a 1 out of 10, and gave it a surprisingly high 3.85 out of 10. I guess I don’t need to go into details, but it was every bit as miserable as it looks.
About time Londonist gave me some free publicity, isn’t it? Hmmm. You can pay me in exposure. Seriously. I just want everyone to see my metaphorical breasts hanging out everywhere.
Best roast dinner in London 2020
Here at last. Have I mentioned Blacklock at Home yet?
I actually had 7 roast dinners scoring 8 or higher in 2020, which is a decent amount in any year, let alone one that was so predictably fantastic for Britain.
Wheatsheaf, The Bull and Last, Rotunda, The Beast of Brixton, The Alma, Mac & Wild…and one more.
People occasionally message me. I know. I do find human communication without writing a 2,000+ word article rather strange at times. One seemed a decent fellow, a chef and manager at an establishment which I will shortly mention – and prior to China absolutely not at all being responsible for a pandemic (or even a genocide) we nearly even managed to arrange to go for drinks.
But he reckoned he made a damn fine roast dinner, and I insisted on reviewing it first before I could introduce myself. Well…
First, he got me to enjoy beetroot – golden beetroot with a malted honey flavour. The kale had garlic with it and the carrot won Carrot Of The Year 2020.
The roasties were very close runner-up for best roastie of the year, the gravy was an even closer runner-up for best gravy of the year. The yorkie was…well…fine, but the beef was sooooo flavoursome, mustard, pepper – perhaps a tad too rare but rareness of beef is very much a personal thing (though many people are wrong).
He wanted an 8.8. I scored it an 8.65 which made it the 6th best roast dinner in London. And the best roast dinner of 2020. You better retweet this now, Matt. Oh and every other idiot that made it this far. I mean, you haven’t made it all the way this far down without having a desire to send this review to your family, friends, mistress, MP and doctor’s surgery have you?
Oh yeah. Wood Street Bar & Restaurant in the Barbican. Do go. Do put it on your list for 202…1?
Phew. I can go make my pigs in blankets now.
Roll on 2021
Yeah I know, it is already 2021. I needed some form of title to introduce this final section.
I’ve said for some time that I don’t expect to be back in a pub, eating a roast dinner until April. At the very earliest, the second half of March, but that would need everything to go right – and our government to get the vaccination program spot on. Don’t laugh. There are signs that they might actually be on top of something for a change. You know me, credit where credit is due – criticism where gravy is jus. Wow. That’s my best line since I spilled too much ketamine on a toilet seat.
I’m finishing this now on a Sunday morning, a morning where I should be getting prepared to go for a roast dinner. Gosh I miss it. Oh and now I’ve just read that the government think pubs will be closed until May. FFS.
But I will be back. You will be back. We will all be back. These awards might even be back come the end of 2021 (or beginning of 2022), though I seriously hope that I keep notes this year.
Fingers crossed that London chefs keep up the improved standards of gravy that I’ve noticed this year, and find a way to serve freshly roasted roast potatoes, along with smaller unburnt yorkies. Not asking for too much, am I?
See you soon. Ish.
Oh yeah, he’ll be back also. Be afraid, Boris.
And there it was. The last roast dinner adventure of 2020 was upcoming and what could be more suitable then going to the place that I failed to get to this time last December – The Beast of Brixton, in Brixton.
It was one of the best roast dinners of 2019 and I missed it, thanks to being on call and actually getting that dreaded automated robot from California telling me that going out for a roast dinner was no deal.
You know this post was supposed to be my “no deal” special? Boris has ruined my blog post.
That said, I nearly managed to not book The Beast of Brixton – on my first attempt I booked the wrong amount of people, so I cancelled then booked with the correct amount of people but wrong date, so then cancelled but on the third attempt the system said, “no meal”. Thankfully it relented when I tried a week later.
And then Tier 3 loomed (gosh this post has aged quickly). Would it be possible that a second visit in a row to The Beast of Brixton would be scuppered by circumstances outside of my control? Would it be ecsta sí or ecsta no deal?
And there was me thinking that the only Spanish contribution to music culture was Las Ketchup. Aserejé ja de jé de jebe tu de jebere seibiunouva…yeah let’s not go there again. EVER.
The Beast of Brexit
Given the impending metaphorical rectal split from the European Union, I thought I should do some research on the possible benefits of doing so – in the same way that I research the potential benefits of veganism.
What? I did eat tofu last week. Yeah it was as horrid as I expected, but at least I tried. So I bought a book on the benefits of Brexit:
Now, I have quite a lot of books with words in that I will never read, including an 854-page book on Gorbachev, sat on my bedside table mainly so I can impress the hot Spanish women that I will never bring back. Impress them with my intelligence. OK? I’m not exactly GQ magazine material.
Anyway and however, this was not so difficult to read – I include sections on the economy, healthcare and living standards which all seem to have been thoroughly researched and are easy to read:
Apologies if the images are blurry – for some reason my phone cannot pick up the detail too well. Just took a naked selfie though – that came out clearly, hairy beast chest and all. Yeah, I’m currently naked. Well, I have a towel on. Wanted to know that didn’t you? Wonder which one of my zero Tinder matches from the last 10 years I could send it to?
Gosh this review is taking me so long to write that no deal actually now seems to be back on. LOL.
The Beast of 2020
You could argue that 2020 hasn’t been the best year in the history of Britain. I’m not sure 2021 will be that much improved. But I thought it important to finish on a high. Well, finish my roast dinner adventures on a high – The Beast of Brixton really was the only choice – this aberration of my duties needed correcting. Yes, I made it to south London in a mask for the first time since lockdown. Granted I got off the tube halfway for a 30 minute oxygen break. Fuck – I even used an escalator for the first time since lockdown. OMG. Definite metaphor there…
Brixton itself felt notably busy – an amount of people that I haven’t really felt except when I went out for the final pre plastic-lockdown meal in SoHo.
The Beast of Brixton is a small venue, split on two levels with more of a bar feel downstairs and a restaurant upstairs – there are not many tables, maybe 6, maybe 10 on each level – I try not to look around nowadays in case I catch covid.
We had to pre-order our meals which is now where I wonder how I can show you the menu. Hmmm. Found one online though from 2018 – I assume the prices are out of date.
I know I chose the beef and I think I paid £18.50, with cauliflower cheese being £6.00. I think. I spent a hell of a lot on wine though. My bill came to £90 in the end, and then we had another round after. We did have a very substantial meal though. Oh the glory days of arguing about what a substantial meal was.
One minor quibble is that it did take a while to get drinks at first – I had to be pretty proactive in flagging down our friendly waitress (yes she was cute, before you ask) to order beers – Mangoes To Brixton beer which was ace. And the red wine that we ordered didn’t turn up until quite a few minutes after our roasts arrived…in my humble dining opinion the wine should arrive shortly before the food, but hey, it isn’t exactly as if I’m perfect.
Speaking of the roasts. BOOM.
Yes, you see baby sweetcorn on a roast dinner. Yes, any form of sweetcorn on a roast dinner is as wrong as getting your willy out at a funeral. Any sort of willy.
Speaking of which, why the fuck does my recently viewed items on Ebay include a pink dildo?
So the carrots were few but really nice. Kind of reminded me of the buttery Hawksmoor carrots – that kind of nice. As did the small amount of spring greens.
The parsnip puree I mistakenly assumed was forced condiment, so didn’t touch it until after the meal when I was asked why I didn’t like it by my associate. It was sweet. But puree.
The real toast of the vegetables was the leek and bacon mix – perhaps with a bit of onion too. This was very tasty – you could have made a small meal out of this and I would have been very happy.
The roast potatoes weren’t great. They just felt a bit old and tired – I’ve definitely had worse. I really am running out of ways to describe tired roasties. Do you think David Cameron still has his wind turbine?
Alas, the Yorkshire pudding wasn’t anything special either. A little too crispy and aged, but there was more than enough gravy to soften it up, and it did make a decent accompaniment to the beef. Thankfully small – as I am sooooooo over giant yorkies.
Back on form now – we have the cauliflower cheese.
Oh yeah. Creamy, cheesy, sticky and gooey. A really nice grilled glaze to the top of them, with a hint of rosemary. Fair to say that these were pretty damn beastly.
The beef of Brixton
What do we have left to write about? The beef, the thing that isn’t a scotch egg, the gravy and probably a bit more Brexit.
There was more than enough beef – the roast as a whole at The Beast of Brixton was generously portioned. Quite rare, nicely tender – worked well with the gravy and the yorkie. Very good.
Yet the star of the show for me was the thing that wasn’t a scotch egg. According to the menu from 2018, it is an ox cheek beignet. So a beignet is apparently a type of deep fried pastry. Who knew? And the ox cheek inside was just glorious – so soft and luxurious. This was a ball of heaven – a bit like I wish hot Spanish women would say to me after seeing the Gorbachev biography next to my bed.
And the gravy was very good too. Could have been thicker but that is the same for anywhere serving gravy to a northerner that isn’t similar in consistency to cement. Very flavoursome, quite rich but not so much – daubed in red wine flavour (daubed – check me out).
And that, folks, was the end of 2020. Well, there’s still enough time for another lockdown. Yes I did write this part before the announcement.
The Beast of Brixton
So I met the owner after. He’s sound as fuck yet hopefully my review isn’t too biased. I mean, I did pay for everything bar the shot of Cafe Patron at the end.
My accomplices went last year (without me, did I mention that?) and scored it an 8.88 and a 9, respectively – yet still complained about the roast potatoes and yorkie. How drunk were they?
Yep, the roast potatoes were definitely bad. The yorkie was forgettable and fuck having sweetcorn on a roast dinner – worse, they have peas but thankfully I remembered in time to ensure they were not involved.
However, everything else ranged from very good to dreamy gorgeous. My number one highlight was the not a scotch egg thing – oh ox cheek you can get in my mouth and stay there. Cauliflower cheese was excellent, I loved the bacon and leek combo – the gravy was very good too – muy importante.
There wasn’t really any average. I cannot score it high 8’s without good roast potatoes, though the heart does want to.
My accomplices this time scored it an 8 and an 8.2. I’m scoring it an 8.26 out of 10, which does make it the best regularly available roast dinner in south London, that I’ve had so far.
Yeah I rated this place. This is going on my list of places to go back to – though they don’t seem to do main meals any other day, but a toasted sandwich and a few cans of Mangoes To Brixton will suit me just fine. I suggest that you put it on your 2021 list (unless you are reading far in the future…lucky fucker). And do feel free to tell me what should go on my 2021 list in return. Assuming that we are ever allowed some freedom from the NHS technocracy.
I will be back.
What a beast of a year
Fuck knows when I’ll be back but I’ll be back some time in 2021. I’m not really expecting to be sat at a table in a pub or restaurant until April – I advise you to keep your expectations low also! I wish you all a…Christmas and a…New Year – Boris, if you are reading, maybe skip the New Year’s message for 2021.
Actually, I’ll do the message.
I just want to give a big shout-out to everyone that has served me this year. The bar staff, the waiters, the waitresses – those that have cleaned the toilets and turned a blind eye to my accidental mask non-wearing on the way out once or thrice.
And to those in the kitchen – well, most of those in most kitchens anyway, as I have had many very good roast dinners this year – a higher standard than normal I feel. And finally, to those owning, running, managing and having to struggle through the clusterfuck that is 2020. I don’t know how you cope. Nuff respect, as they say in DA HUD.
Did I miss anyone? Oh yeah, my readers. You have shared my blog recently and told all your friends about it? Right? Love you all. Thanks for reading, commenting, sharing and just being the reason this blog still exists and didn’t wither a death back in 2017, or just become another dull Instagram account desperately trying to blag freebies.
Oooh, and don’t forget there are the roast awards for 2020 to come. It could be worse. At least you haven’t seen my nob. Well, most of you haven’t.
I’m back! A bit like Donald Trump come 2024, it is almost as if I have never been away. And this week I went to The Alma in Canonbury.
He isn’t going away is he? I feel like we are never going to hear the end of “stolen election” – it’s a bit like me banging on about masks not working and Brexit being a stupid fucking idea. Except I have evidence.
Speaking of Brexit, remember when People’s Votes were cool and I used to enthral the whole of Twitter with my People’s Roast Votes? The Alma came runner-up a couple of years back.
So I was aware that I was going to a rather beloved establishment, and one that claimed to have award-winning roasts. Hmmm. There is only one person in London that should be giving awards out for roast dinners and they go by the name of Lord Gravy. Fuck Time Out. ME. I am the chosen one. I have chosen myself to be the supreme being of London’s roast dinner reviewing establishment. I GIVE THE FUCKING AWARDS OUT.
Though what the hell am I going to write about in the 2020 awards? I did nearly start writing them in May. Actually I did start writing. Well, I wrote some notes and I really wish I kept a link to the tweet that I was going to use as an introduction as that is going to be a bastard to find come the end of December.
I thought I had a spreadsheet too but I cannot find it. I can find my Japan Plan spreadsheet which came in really fucking handy this year. Konichiwaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Not sure why I’m so sweary today, other than thinking about Brexit for a little while. Started your Brexit stockpile yet? Some people laughed at me in 2019 for doing so but it came in fucking handy in March.
Granted my Brexit stockpile is mostly ketchup, olive oil and summer fruits squash. And some tinned fruit that I probably won’t remember to eat before the best before date. Maybe I should buy some spam? What do the anti-vaxxers stockpile? I assume they are preppers? Pepper, yes must make sure I have enough pepper.
Who am I?
Something strange happened to me on the tube on the way for a roast dinner. Someone sat opposite me. OPPOSITE ME. On the Metropolitan line – so this is quite a close encounter and he wasn’t wearing a mask. Well, until I looked at him when he got one out of his bag and put it on his chin.
Regular readers will appreciate the irony given that I think masks are bullshit, though I stress that I love 5G and want ALL of the vaccines. I was told to wear masks to avoid a second lockdown. I did (half-heartedly and full of moaning). And here I was with everyone’s corona nightmare – some smelly bloke choosing to sit directly opposite them in their breathing space.
Of course, I couldn’t move seats. That would be waaaaaaay too awkward, and also would feel like I was defeated. So I got off the tube and pretended that it was my stop. Possibly the most British thing I’ve done since…erm…I last had a roast dinner.
So, The Alma. In Canonbury – not the one in Angel. Or the one in Wandsworth. Or the one in Crystal Palace. I’ve been here before – it is a movie themed pub with movie posters stuck around and some old cinema seating in places – which I decided probably weren’t best for eating a roast dinner on.
It is almost a novelty to go to a pub with its own personality – lacking the stripped-back brick walls and varying shades of teal. It definitely has its own personality and you know what else was a real novelty? The government rules for hospitality finally making sense. Joke! However, roast dinners at The Alma were priced less than £15 (except beef). When was the last time I paid less than £15 and wasn’t in zone 4 or some other dimension?
A tricky choice. I fancied pork belly before I arrived but it wasn’t on the menu – and I didn’t fancy pork loin. I decided against beef, even though I love rib eye, because I had beef the previous two weeks and will be having it next Sunday also.
The barman recommended the mixed roast, which would have solved my dilemma – but I’ve lost 4kg since lockdown2 and it just seemed too much food. Yeah, I’m getting into shape ready to find mi esposa Españal de sexy in IBIZA next year. LOLZ.
What am I doing?
The answer to the question by the way is January 2019, at least for a decent roast. You’ve forgotten the question already, haven’t you?
Our roasts didn’t take too long to arrive, maybe 10-15 minutes. We sat there nursing our non-alcoholic beverages (sigh…but need my Spanish wife) and talking Christmas plans – or the lack of them. Sigh. Oooh Brexit soon.
So, the chef at The Alma likes pepper. So do I – I must remember to stockpile it.
It felt like the vegetables were perhaps cooked together as they were all fairly heavily peppered. Carrots had a bit of crunch to them, the broccoli was nice albeit just one little stem, and the cabbage was more numerous – nicely wilted and again heavy on the pepper.
Salt notable too, but thankfully not too much so – and all the vegetables, especially the cabbage, working nicely with the red wine jus. More on that later.
By the way, I’ve finished my Christmas shopping. A ha ha ha ha ho ho donde estan las putas.
And why do half of the guys have the same coat? And all have the same hairstyle?
Am I in a roast potato wonderland?
It felt like I was walking in a roast potato wonderland. 5 roast potatoes. And you’ll never guess what…
No, still no Brexit deal. No, Trump is still a manchild. No, I still don’t have any matches on Spanish Tinder. No, Tesla’s share price keeps rising. Give in?
The roast potatoes were quite crispy on the outside and quite soft on the inside. Yes – behold the miracle. They weren’t perfect – only crispy on one side and I’ve had fluffier. Yet they were better than most pub roasties and seemed like they had actually been made on the same day. Perfection, no, but very good.
The Yorkshire pudding was as flat as a pancake. Yet it was more enjoyable than most – that soft, eggy feeling, albeit a tad oily – and again, importantly, felt like it had been made close to ordering time. It was fresh – it hadn’t been stuck under a heat lamp for hours. Zero points for looks, but high points for enjoyment.
Plenty of lamb was provided. The earthy taste was brought out nicely with a hint of rosemary flavour – there was a bit of fat inside, it didn’t especially detract from what was a nice piece of lamb, just occasionally needed a little extra chew – but mostly it was pretty tender.
My accomplice had the chicken, which she highly rated – noting that the chicken skin was really crispy. A bit like Phillip Green.
Finally, the alleged red wine jus. Alleged, because to me, this was more of a gravy – it had the consistency of a gravy – it had a consistency us northerners need to keep us alive. The red wine flavour was quite subtle – red wine jus can often overpower a roast, but this didn’t – and the pepper came out more then the red wine. Very, very good. I just wished I had brought a slice of bread with me to mop up the gravy.
This was surely not reality?
OK, The Alma can keep their award. This was a very, very good roast dinner.
All of it was enjoyable, though the smile on my ugly face after was perhaps more down to the excellent red wine jus and the 5 (yes, five) fairly crispy roast potatoes. I can really see why The Alma is loved as a pub.
My accomplice scored it an 8.30 – and I am going to do exactly the same. Which as things stand makes it the 15th best roast dinner in London out of 155 – I’ve only had two better roasts out and about in 2020.
And did I mention that it only cost £14.50?
Just think – next Sunday’s roast dinner could be the no deal special. Or if those fucking experts are right then simply no roast dinner (I might be coming round to Michael Gove’s way of thinking on experts).
Assuming we don’t go into Tier Fucking 3, it’s almost certainly my last roast dinner of 2020 as Christmas dinner is not a roast dinner…what?
Urgh, British public.
Anyway, Sunday 20th I’ll be staying the fuck away from everyone so I can go teach my mother how to cook sprouts properly and Sunday 27th I’ll be heading back to London and my driver is refusing to go for a roast.
So fingers crossed next Sunday is the best roast dinner of 2020. It actually could be. It should be one of the best.
They are going to fucking put us in Tier 3 before then, aren’t they?
Right. Let’s get you in the mood. Picture the sexiest person that you can think of. They are in your bed, wearing just a pair of frilly pink knickers (you can adjust this part if you need to). Hands tied to the headrest. Blindfold on. And then, in a sexy, smoky voice, they mutter the words, “Blacklock At Home“.
Jesus. I could be an erotic fiction writer. Famous erotic fiction writer. Maybe…maybe I already am? Maybe I am actually JK “50 shades” Rowling in disguise?
You know, I’ve always had a fantasy…this is getting into dangerous grounds as at least two members of my family will probably read this…but I’ve always fantasised about being in bed with a hot Spanish woman – yeah I know, but she really would have to be Spanish for this fantasy, or at least not from the British Empire. We still have the empire, right?
So it’s Boxing Day, I wake up next to her, make her breakfast in bed – with booze, of course, probably something girly like prosecco. Then get a little frisky, tying her to the bed at around 10:55am.
And then I switch the TV on. She says, “what are you doing, Lord Gravy?”.
My reply – “first day of the test match, love”.
A ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. And she’ll have no choice but to watch the cricket all day with me. A ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. ¿Vienes aquí a menudo?
Yeah, I am still single. But I’ve passed the first 3 levels on Duolingo. That’s a step in the direction of finding a Spanish wife, si?
One day I might actually move to Spain to find a wife. Hopefully one that likes roast dinners and dreams of living in London. As my to-do list isn’t getting any smaller, is it, Boris?
So Blacklock at Home. I was a little early and tweeted my excitement about the launch of them doing roasts at home the week before they launched, and instead had to order Hawksmoor At Home, for last Sunday. DO NOT COMPARE TO HAWKSMOOR. DO NOT COMPARE TO HAWKSMOOR. DO NOT COMPARE TO HAWKSMOOR.
Speaking of lazy journalism, there is a roast dinner reviewer in Birmingham. Well, their local clickbait rag reviewed a Morrison’s roast dinner. If ever my writing becomes this dull and pointless, please find me a wife. Any nationality. And ban me from the internet.
Anyway, Blacklock at Home. At least until the next tangent.
So, Blacklock at Home. Yeah the proportion of people thinking that Britain is wrong to leave the European Union is increasing. Who would have thought it?
Blacklock At Home
I’ll just show you the website then.
Yeah it’s great, get ordering now. Even better than the Brexit deal. Yeah it’s actually oven ready. What, you want a proper review? Urgh.
You know, I should always want perfection. But there was a little bit of me that hoped this wouldn’t be perfection. I didn’t want the Blacklock at Home roast dinner to be as good as the Blacklock at Blacklock roast dinner. My putting things in an oven shouldn’t match the near-perfection of Blacklock’s chefs cooking live.
Ordering was straight-forward, it’s almost like people have cracked this internet thing now – gosh imagine if this pandemic had struck when everyone was still on Internet Explorer 6. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?
All I needed to do was select my delivery date, click “add to cart” then pay. Simples. Even my techphobic mother could manage this – though she’d probably end up with yet another Amazon Prime subscription. For £52.00 I received a roast dinner for two, along with a mini cocktail, the white chocolate cheesecake, toothpicks, a pair of menus and some salt. I probably missed something. Oh a candle. Oh and some horseradish cream.
I received my 2-hour delivery slot on the Saturday, delivered by a company I’ve never heard of – and exquisitely packaged. Thankfully I was home in those 2 hours. No I didn’t have anything better to do. Did you? Maybe you have a Spanish wife.
Instructions were detailed and lovingly-written, a bit like my introduction though without provoking such disturbing images – more 50 shades of gravy. Boom! Tell me you like that joke? Or are you one of those people that goes to Christmas markets and moans about over-priced hog roasts and warm beer? Actually, that’s me. Can you get a hog roast burger delivered to your home?
DO NOT COMPARE
The Blacklock At Home roast was a little easier than the Hawksmoor At Home roast dinner to…WHOA DO NOT COMPARE. Hola. Tienes una sonrisa muy bonita. Ahh thanks, I painted the sunrise myself.
Starting with frying the beef joint, which has a proper name to it, but hey, go ask Birmingham Live if you want something useful.
Beef joint in oven, roasties in oven, cauliflower cheese in oven, other vegetables in the oven – yeah I can handle this kind of cooking pretty easily. Gravy did need stirring – and was a bit of a mission to get out of the bottle, as it was even thicker then I’d make it, at least whilst in the bottle.
No, don’t be daft! I mean, there was just about enough to cope with, despite being northern, but we ended up adding a bit of hot water just to bulk it out a bit – my excuse was that we needed to get the last remaining bit of gravy out of the bottle.
Overall the Blacklock at Home roast dinner took around 30 minutes to “cook”.
Where shall we start? How about the carrots? Nicely sliced (can I have a job at Birmingham Live please?), they were slightly crusted, slightly charred and very nice indeed.
Parsnips came a little soft, but pretty damn gorgeous.
Finally from the vegetable medley were the charred sprouts – notably charred both visually and flavour wise – these were pretty much the bomb and I know my mother won’t be providing sprouts this nice on Christmas Day. They’ll be steamed. Maybe I will need to take control? So far, so very, very good – not a surprise though, is it?
Oh to be a professional
Shit, that Birmingham Live description of roast potatoes could have come from almost any of my posts. Thankfully, that wasn’t quite the case for Blacklock.
An illegal 4 roast potatoes each were supplied – the maximum allowed by law in London is 3 (I should probably clarify that this isn’t actually a law, I made this up, but it does sound realistic in 2020, doesn’t it?). Quite fluffy inside, a little crispy on the outside and tasting damn duck fatty fabulous. They would have been better in the restaurant, but they were better than most pubs or restaurants manage in house. You could tell that they were pre-prepared but it was disguised about as much as possible.
The Yorkshire pudding was cold, though you cannot really blame Blacklock for that. We did follow instructions and put it in the oven for 1 minute, but for some reason my oven didn’t manage to translate any heat to the yorkie despite having been on for ages at 220’C. I once lived in a house with two ovens. Oh to have such luxury again. Two ovens…hmmm…maybe I should re-write the introduction?
Anyway, so the yorkie was arguably a tad overdone on the outside – thankfully inside was soft, fluffy and eggy. It was good, but weird being cold.
Thankfully not working for Birmingham Live means that I don’t quite have to get this desperate to create content:
Both meats were perfectly cooked? Really? Perfect? Got anything to say about this, Blacklock?
Oh how about:
Granted not the best photograph ever to show off the beef – the joint made about 3 slices each of beef, around 1cm of thickness – yes I cut against the grain – one of the many additional details of the instructions to perfect the roast. Didn’t know that was a thing.
It was very tender beef. I haven’t got much else to add. It was nicely crispy on the outside thanks to the salt that was added – as per instructions again.
Shit, nearly forgot about the cauliflower cheese. This was superb – quite gooey, very cheesy – the cauliflower was soft but made up by how gooey the whole thing was. Breadcrumbs on top gave it a crunchy texture – perhaps could have done with another 5 minutes in the oven but everything else was ready – especially my belly.
Finally, the Blacklock gravy. Oh yeah, it tasted every bit as wondrous as in the restaurant. As it should. Not really enough, at least for northerners like myself, but I didn’t go short either. An option to order extra gravy would be appreciated – but also risky as you’d have people like me buy 10 bottles. I would actually happily just buy Blacklock gravy and never make it myself ever again.
49 shades of gravy
This was a faithful replica of the Blacklock experience. The vegetables were charred as they should have been, the cauliflower cheese tasted just like the cauliflower cheese in Blacklock, the gravy was exactly the same as in the restaurant – hell, even the smell of my house replicated the gorgeous smoky smell of Blacklock, as we noted when we came back from our post roast walk.
I did kind of hope that this wouldn’t be quite as exceptional as the restaurant, and that proved so. It was excellent – but for the added brilliance you have to be there – you have to have the chefs cooking for you, the wonderful service, the smell. And the ability to order extra gravy.
Also when we came back from the walk, we had the cheesecake.
I think the fruit on top was mandarin, which was slightly odd – I would have preferred the summer fruits like the last time I went, but I guess it isn’t summer. Otherwise, it was every bit as gorgeous as you’d expect – the flakes of white chocolate mixing with the frosting and crumbletastic biscuit. And made for a superb breakfast the next morning.
My score is an 8.60 out of 10 – my accomplice scored it an 8.80 out of 10. Shockingly high scores, only a few actual dine-in places have scored higher – but what would you expect from a restaurant that has perfected the roast dinner?
The only way to make this better, apart from extra gravy, or the option of adding extra gravy – is to go to the restaurant itself. I look forward to visiting in 2021. And I am not just saying that.
I’ll be back next week. I’m going to a pub. Oh yes. A rather popular pub and seemingly beloved establishment – but will I have a good roast dinner? I’ll find out on Sunday. ¿Donde estan las putas?
I need to start this review of Hawksmoor At Home on a serious note – a note of regret, sorrow and pain. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of drivelous, inane bullshit to come – after all we must take this and every possible opportunity to celebrate Dominic Cummings fucking off.
As much as this roast dinner reviewing blog is at times utterly nonsense and facile – there is a point to it. I want to help the good people of London find their way to the better roast dinners in town – let’s face it, there are no shortage of crap roasts in town.
But this works two ways – I also want to help those doing great roast dinners to find more customers. And this is ever more important in 2020. I don’t think you need me to elaborate on why.
Cast your mind back to 2017, if you can make it that far. It was the year of covfefe, the year when The Shed in Dulwich was the most popular restaurant in town and the year when I truly developed my heart-breaking relationship with the teenage angst-ridden Metropolitan line. It was also when I decided to celebrate roast dinner number 25 at the highly-rated Hawksmoor in Spitalfields.
I’m not Doctor Who
It was also a time when I still felt aggrieved by the 12.5% service charge in the same way that I feel aggrieved by being told to put my mask over my nose nowadays.
Costing £20, which was a hell of a lot of money for a Sunday roast back in those days, especially notable because I was on a junior wage from the first proper job in my new career, I was expecting great things. My expectations were not met. Not at all. Look!
Some things were excellent – like the gravy and the steak, albeit the steak portion was small and the gravy was thin. Yet the yorkie was like dried sponge, the roasties were tough and the spring greens went on forever.
I scored it a 6.93, which is a fairly low score.
Now I don’t mind giving low scores and criticism. Honestly, I really don’t mind! It does pain me when I have to give a poor score to a small independent, but to large chains that have served me a poor roast then bring on the moaning. And not knowing much about Hawksmoor at the time, I just concluded that it was another chain with an undeserved reputation. It baffled me, really did baffle me when I kept reading people recommending it.
Yet it has become clear to me over the last couple of years that Hawksmoor are actually a fucking brilliant organisation. It has become especially clear this year from just how well they look after their staff, their e-mails and social media output, how much they look after their customers – what this whole restaurant thing means to them. And their support for local charities. Not to mention making me laugh from their Twitter output.
I have therefore come to conclude that I was simply unlucky that time. Chefs have their off days. Restaurants have their off days. Even I’m very occasionally not true wonder and perfection. Yet that rating of 6.93 will stand forever more. Unless…
Oh, wrong moron, sorry…
YOU MUST STAY AT HOME FOLKS, AND ORDER A HAWKSMOOR AT HOME BOX.
Is there a doctor in the house?
Hawksmoor At Home was first born in the proper lockdown – though for a steak box. Which after all is what they are really known for. £125 for a fillet steak box for two, with wine. I thought about it, but didn’t order.
Then in the plastic lockdown where seemingly the only things closed are pubs, restaurants and eyebrow parlours – the only 3 places I need to visit in life, they expanded to do a roast box and I think something close to their full menu, but only for 5 miles around their Air Street restaurant. I live in Harrow. Yes, I still live in Harrow. Yes I have been talking since ooooooh roughly 2017 about moving closer to central London. And not even Harlesden is within 5 miles of Harrow.
Thankfully, my support bubble person (I think we are still allowed them?) lives within 5 miles – and ordered one to her house.
Finally, my dream was available to purchase. Hmmmm. Sexy.
Jeez, wrong image.
Finally, my dream was available to purchase. Hmmmm. Sexy.
$6.89 and free international shipping. Oh and the roast was just £30 for two people, plus £10 delivery charge. Hard to tell which is the better of the two great deals. Have I mentioned that Dominic Cummings has been sacked?
Yeah there isn’t an especially relevant reason for me putting a picture of a sexy Spanish woman here. My Google search did start with “person laughing”, then went onto “ugly person laughing”, then somehow I ended up searching for “sexy Spanish woman in bra laughing”. I know, she isn’t laughing. She hasn’t seen how small my willy is. Also that’s possibly a bikini rather than a bra.
Did I tell you I’ve stopped drinking? I decided that lockdown wasn’t boring enough so I thought why not deprive myself of alcohol also. Yeah. Please don’t judge me, OK? I already know that I’m a nobhead.
How you doing anyway? No, wait. How you doin’?
Gosh I hope I can go to Spain next year. I just love the architecture and the food over there. She’s probably Brazilian and not Spanish, isn’t she? And that jacket is dreadful. OK, no more sexy Spanish women until my next post.
So how are you anyway? I hope you haven’t missed me too much the last few weeks. I hope you are all coping reasonably…it isn’t too long until we get a bit of freedom back. I hope. I think. Well, Hawksmoor think so anyway:
Believe it or not, I’ve gone a bit Railtrack from my original point…I wanted to correct what I’d come to see as a wrong due to my growing fondness for Hawksmoor the organisation – the Hawksmoor roast dinner is the first ever to earn a second chance. The original review was fair – it was a disappointing roast – yet it still feels wrong in the whole context of life. It was getting to the point where I could shed a tear or two about it. Obviously BIG HARD NORTHERN MAN so I haven’t cried since Italia ’90.
Therefore I approached this roast dinner with some trepidation – what if it was disappointing again? At least I could blame my middling cooking skills – for this roast you have to finish at home. Don’t worry, there are instructions – but you’ll need two frying pans, two roasting tins and two saucepans. Or I did anyway. Yeah, my guest left the washing up to me.
I’m not sure what there is to say about the cooking process. I fried the beef rump (600g for two people no less) then plonked it in the oven. Pre-prepared roasties and the cauliflower cheese went in the oven too. The carrots were fried with butter and spring greens warmed up in a saucepan – with butter again. And the gravy was warmed up.
Want to see inside my box, doc?
This feels like the point where I’d post a photograph of the roast dinner and start talking about carrots. But I’ve just posted a photograph of the contents of the box. Maybe I could move the photograph of the box contents?
Naaah too late. What else can I talk about? Oh yeah, Dominic Cummings has gone! I’ve probably flogged that too much already. I wonder if my American readers know who he is? For the purpose of my American readers, Dominic Cummings plays a similar role…PLAYED a ha ha ha ha…a similar role to what Steve Bannon did. Except Steve Bannon would have been the playground bully and Dominic Cummings would have been bullied so much that he is attempting to take revenge. Something like that.
And, big, huge, bigly news – I’ve not lost as many Twitter followers as in the proper lockdown. Only down about 8 followers – was down about 50 in the proper lockdown. Don’t think the Russian hacker helped matters back then. Fucking goulash. OK, fine, I’ll start talking about the Hawksmoor At Home roast dinner.
The carrots were plentiful, quite large slices of carrot, cooked in butter with a hint of thyme. These were silkily great, just gliding into my mouth. Though the carrots impressed at the restaurant also.
Spring greens were also plentiful – this was a pretty huge roast dinner. Nicely soft, cooked in butter. Good.
The final vegetable offering was the cauliflower cheese. Nicely gooey cheese, soft but stable cauliflower – I think a couple of minutes under the grill to crisp it up at the end might have improved this, but again – this was good. Really tasty.
Probably need a heading here
You won’t be surprised to know that the roast potatoes had the usual “cooked earlier” feel about them. Because they were actually cooked earlier for us to finish off in the oven. They were quite crispy, they were quite soft inside – and tasted luxurious in the beef dripping. They were also much better than the roasties I had when I ate there – but still they cannot quite justify a tag of “good”.
Decent roasties in a world of dire roasties, but…I feel like they need a bit more perfecting – however is it even possible to make a perfect pre-prepared roast potato? I can make amazing roasties on demand, but they’ll be crud if I leave them to eat until the day after.
The Yorkshire pudding was really good – and survived the delay between being prepared and being heated up. Rather eggy and went nicely with the beef.
Which leads me onto…the beef. 600g of rump to share between two – bearing in mind that we paid £20 each including delivery, and I feel that this is a damn fine deal.
The beef was very nice – good quality, nicely browned on the edge as per instructions and juicy. The only downside was that halfway through the joint was a thin layer of impenetrable membrane – which made slicing part of the joint very difficult, especially with my unhelpful selection of knives – so I ended up with very thick slices.
Calling Doctor Vain
I know what I want and I want it now, I want more gravy because there’s never enough. I knew there wouldn’t be enough and I was correct. If it had been as thin and watery as I experienced at the restaurant then maybe it would not have been an issue – but this was glorious, thick bone marrow gravy. And it tasted sooooooo good.
But one pot between two was nowhere near enough – as you can see if you scroll up to the image. Not the sexy Spanish woman. Wait…I’ve just remembered the photograph that I was going to use to laugh about Dominic Cummings fucking off…
Anyway, one pot each is the minimum required, dear Hawksmoor. I mean, if you are properly qualified to work in Downing Street as per Dominic Cummings’ requirements then you could suggest that the roast dinner didn’t need gravy…
Doctor, where is my horse tranquilizer?
Hawksmoor. I think we can be friends now.
This was a great roast dinner to have as my return after a couple of weekends of enforced roast dinner celibacy. So much food on the plate and all good quality – only the roasties were marginally off game, but were still decent. Obviously not enough gravy also.
Everything else was very good. The gravy flavour was superb – as it was at the restaurant. Otherwise I’m struggling to pick a highlight…it could be the cauliflower cheese which was a bit dreamy, or just enjoying the beef and yorkie combined.
An empty plate too.
Ahhh well I did say no more sexy Spanish women. Oh Maggie, I’m so honoured to eat off you. Yes I did lick the plate. I know what you are thinking, and no, you don’t seem to be able to buy a David Cameron plate. Hmmm, gap in the market?
My accomplice scored Hawksmoor a nice round 8.00 – I’m scoring it an 8.15. You will see me in one of your establishments for a steak in 2021.
Finally, I’m also under instruction to plug my accomplice’s colleague’s chunky oreo cookies. They were damn nice also. I feel that I’d do this more justice in a short dress with stockings and a blonde wig – alas, you know I need to keep my anonymity so that I can continue to bring you unbiased reviews. Albeit this cookie review is biased and you will now order some from Instagrim because you are under my spell.
I’ll be back next week. You know where I’ve ordered from, don’t you?
Stick with it folks. Eventually we’ll all be bouncing around like a crazy fucker. Life will be back.
Here we fucking go again. Another fucking lockdown. This post is going to be a roast dinner review of The Albion in Islington. There might be some swearing. There might be some ranting. There might be some tears. There will be some goodbyes.
I was planning to make it my goodbye, fuck off and don’t ever speak in public again, Donald Trump special. But what happened? Yes, our political opponents and the evil far-right media decided to usurp all of this and castigate the nice, kind Jeremy Corbyn – giving me a tough call between a Goodbye Trump special and a Goodbye Corbyn special.
Ohhh Jeremy Corbyn. We are not going to be singing that at Glastonbury next year are we?
And then our dear, beloved chief scientologists decided that we are not being protective enough about THE RELIGION, cue time to release new scary graphs showing 5 times as many people dying as the previous worse-case scenario.
Boom. Lockdown. Despite it seeming that the tier system might actually have been working.
What? There’s breaking news? Nigel Farage is doing what?
I just want to clarify that I am 100% in favour of this new lockdown. Cannot wait. I’ve been calling for it since July – why has it taken so long? So exciting. Best thing ever. Go lockdown!
Gosh, now there’s someone that I’d love to be doing a goodbye special on.
West Bromwich Albion. Yeah I’ve no idea how this heading ties in either.
I’d booked The Albion via random number generator, and I’m pretty good at getting as far as Islington now. Well, I thought I was however I still managed to go the wrong way and be late. Fucking masks. Though when I arrived at The Albion and advised who I was, they took me to a table in the back garden where a woman with a similar-sounding name to me was waiting for her guest. She wasn’t waiting for me.
Fucking masks. Masks were to blame for him not hearing me, in case I haven’t explained that well.
Yeah, all that mask wearing worked really well. Anyway, onto the China section. Actually, no lets just not talk about China because everything is fine in China, perfectly normal country that didn’t cause covid, isn’t sterilising a whole ethnic population and there isn’t any form of large-scale gulag over there. Chinese agents probably follow this blog, don’t they?
Anyway, so they showed me to my correct accomplice that was waiting for me next to the fire on a ridiculously mild November day. Two northerners placed next to a fire. Thankfully my accomplice had already asked them to switch it off (and you thought I was referring to the risk of me burning masks). Also my seat was vibrating a lot, like almost all of the time – as if there was a tube train permanently running underneath, but a never-ending tube train.
Can you tell I’m in one of those moods? Starting a new fucking team today, with a hangover, and in a bad mood. It is Monday morning as I’m writing this by the way…need to get it done sharp as I’m going out for dinner on Wednesday, oh and need to post my Goodbye Trump special before the election results start rolling in. He is going, right? I’m not going to look totally stupid, am I? You yankies better fucking vote for Biden…especially in Texas which would pay for my next 3 roast dinners.
Yeah I probably should have brushed my teeth when I was young. That and do a bit less crystal meth.
Another heading. Just to split it up. And masks don’t work.
Choices on the roast dinner menu were beef sirloin, pork belly, herb crusted leg of lamb or chicken breast – all priced between £18.50 and £19.50. I’d already decided a week ago when I booked it that I wanted the herb-crusted leg of lamb, priced at £19.00, though I did have a little dither over whether to have the pork belly instead.
The roast took around 15 to 20 minutes to arrive, I’m not entirely sure as I was focused on having a moan about lockdown and how everyone was to blame except China.
On first sight, it looked quite average. I wanted either a great roast or a shit roast – I really didn’t want an average roast.
But is something missing? Can you work out what is missing before I tell you? In the meantime, here’s a word from our sponsors:
Have you worked out what is missing?
Maybe you need a close up.
Yes, there is barely any gravy on the plate. Or jus? We always ask for extra gravy, but I was quite forceful about the lack of gravy. How am I supposed to eat this?
Extra gravy arrived after a few minutes. Can you see it?
No, I mean the gravy, not Trump’s penis. Can you see the extra gravy?
Not the best photo – I am barely a better photographer than I am an epidemiologist, but extra gravy came to about 3mm of a small gravy boaty thing. Yeah, I asked for more – which came back thinner than the original gravy, but was just about sufficient.
The struggles of modern life
Shall we talk about carrots? For the last time for “4 weeks”, I’m going to spice it up and review them with the parsnips within the same paragraph. Whoa. Check me out. Or perhaps check out from reading this shit. Don’t worry, I won’t be back that soon.
So the carrots and parsnips had been roasted in honey – both were soft, the parsnips too soft really, but that was more than made up for by the flavour in the parsnips – the best I’ve had in ages, though perhaps seasonality also has something to do with that. I thought I could detect some mustard involvement also, but the menu suggests just honey. Good start.
I enjoyed the buttered greens also. They were, erm, buttery, cabbagey – I think with either some form of kale mixed in…or maybe it was just another type of cabbage. My accomplice thought there was leek also, but I didn’t detect it.
We’d ordered a side of cauliflower cheese to share. The cauliflower was a tiny bit too soft and the sauce too runny – but it was heartily cheesy and enjoyable also. I’ve had better, but it certainly squeezed into the good category, and the cream did thicken as the meal went on – and was a useful substitute for gravy.
Ohhh roast potatoes. Bit of a mixed bunch for me. They looked rather pale – so far this was a roast dinner that tasted better than it looked, and the taste of the roast potatoes fit that pattern also, with the beef dripping flavour coming through nicely.
One of them was large and rather al dente – though slightly crispy on the outside. One was just too soft and not crispy. The other was quite crispy and quite fluffy – on the way to meeting expectations but not quite meeting let alone beating. My accomplice was a little luckier, with two nicely crispy roasties out of three. I’ve had worse. I’ve often had worse. But they were nothing to shout about.
Fuck off, Donald Trump
If any inventor is bored the next few weeks, may I recommend making a machine that makes perfect crispy roast potatoes in 15 minutes – so that pubs don’t feel the need to make the roast potatoes hours, or even days before?
The Yorkshire pudding was quite soft on the bottom, but overall tasted a bit burnt and was quite tearable in texture. My accomplice again fared better than me.
My accomplice (fucking support bubble before the stasi accuse me of being the second wave) enjoyed her beef, rating it some of the best she has this year. It was very, very nice from my one bite – though I thought the lamb was arguably even better.
Not quite as tender as the beef, but with more flavour. I didn’t quite get the “herb-crusted” adjective as per the menu description – there were no more herbs visible than extra wall built on the border with Mexico.
Are we onto the gravy already? Or was it jus?
You know, I don’t think I’ve had a jew on a roast dinner since Kier Starmer became Labour leader. I mean, jus on a roast dinner. I would apologise but the scale of the unfortunate spelling mistake has been dramatically overstated for political reasons by my opponents, and of course by the evil far-right media.
Despite the quantity limitations rivalling the Great Ket Drought of 2012, there was eventually enough to be able to enjoy my roast dinner. It was quite rich and you could arguably describe it as a jus or as a gravy. Quite thick and tasty, I thought rather red wine based but I was drinking red wine, so maybe don’t take my word for it.
And that was that at The Albion in Islington.
Goodbye Trump. Goodbye Corbyn. Goodbye roast dinners. Goodbye life. The next “4 weeks” looks so miserable that I might even give up drinking. On the bright side, at least I won’t need to go to any Christmas parties this year – unlike last year where I started banging on about my roast dinner blog to the guy next to me, who turned out to be a vegan. And then became my new manager. Thank fuck he appreciates my work, as this blog is hardly a great human resources advertisement for myself.
Getting off tangent again. Shock horror, but just enjoy my nonsense and the thought of my Trump-like penis, as it might be the last time this year that you are graced with such linguistic beauty.
So the roast. It was good.
Yorkie was a bit burnt tasting and the roasties were…well…London style, let’s call it if I’m being kind. On the flip side, the vegetables were flavoursome, the lamb was too – the gravy jus thing was very good…but such a pain to actually get enough gravy.
Service was pretty good, friendly – though difficult to understand people between masks. Personally I wasn’t that into the wine we had, a Tempranillo Grenache if I recall correctly, was a bit light and grainy feeling. And also the beer – the IPA was too aley for me, the pale ale was fine, but didn’t really do it for me either.
As a venue it was good, plenty of outdoor space in both the back garden and outside the front, which will be very useful for the coming weeks…or maybe not. Broadly speaking it felt safe and clean, and was pretty busy. And fairy lights in the garden. We all need fairy lights after a few beers.
My accomplice scored it an 8 out of 10. I’m scoring it a 7.44. The gravy struggles, along with the yorkie and roasties being on the poor side, drag the score down from what was a good roast dinner.
Goodbye, for now?
You haven’t heard the last of me. Hopefully I’ll be back before Trump barricaded the White House and armed militias take over most state buildings prior to the US civil war. And certainly before Corbyn becomes London mayor.
If we are deemed to have saved THE RELIGION in 4 weeks and are bestowed our freedoms once more, there will be 2 roast dinner opportunities before Christmas.
One of those roasts will be special. Well, one of those roasts will be somewhere which should be special.
I’ll speak to you soon.
You’ll be hearing from me again.
Yeah, I’m going.
Just about finished the blog.
Yep. I’ll be out of here soon.
Just on my way.
Just need to build a bit more wall.
At least we proved masks don’t work.