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  • The Duchy Arms, Kennington

    Published 28 September 2021, 7:28 am

  • It was a sunny, solo-dining, sober-dining September day and I calmly headed out to The Duchy Arms in Kennington for a Sunday roast.

    Why The Duchy Arms? Well, partly it was the first place that the random number generator picked that felt solo-dining safe. But also because – NEW SHINY TUBE STATION!

    Yes, just two stops away from Kennington was the brand new Battersea Power Station station, and though I’m not geek enough to get there in time for the 5:28am first tube on the first day of operation, I was still keen enough to go on the first open weekend.

    And, as you can see, it is not just food and menus that I’m crap at photographing:

    Crap photograph of new tube station, Battersea Power Station

    Though at least my website design skills are half-decent – unlike the Duchy Arms’ website which seems not to have been updated since the fuel crisis:

    Awful website design of The Duchy Arms

    Oh I didn’t mean this fuel crisis – I meant the one where the deputy Prime Minister was so useless that he made the lying Prime Minister look competent.

    It feels like a bit of a conspiracy, doesn’t it? In the same week that Kier Starmer publishes a 11,500 word essay – the government tell people not to panic about 6 petrol stations being closed and suddenly you realise, when the fuck are all these people queuing for petrol going to get time to read his 13,000 word essay?

    Pump it up

    Whoa. I mentioned Kier Starmer. And his 14,000 word essay. I should clarify for my American readers, that Kier Starmer is the bloke leading the party that used to be more left-wing than the Tories but now just talks about cervixes and obscure membership voting rights.

    Oh and for my British readers, Kier Starmer is leader of the Labour Party, who used to provide opposition to the Brexit Dictatorship Party prior to 2016.

    I arrived at The Duchy Arms after another prolonged Metropolitan line journey to be greeted by a rope barrier at the entrance – for a minute I thought that I might have mistaken a pub for a petrol station. Someone attended to me after a couple of minutes and showed me towards my super unleaded plus plus table.

    The Duchy Arms had quite a classic pub feel inside, though I decided to sit outside and enjoy possibly the last sunny, warm Sunday of 2021 – which feels like perhaps only the third sunny, warm Sunday of 2021. The garden was a nice little sun trap, quite a sizeable area with lots of sturdy tables and chairs, along with some slightly naff fake grass blanket on the floor.

    They also had a one-way system which I thought was quaint – a bit like our immigration system in recent years – out you go, out you go, and you too. Oh crap we haven’t got any petrol – come back, come back.

    Meme of angry man: 2016 coming over here and taking our jobs.  2021 not coming over here and taking our jobs.

    Obviously this is absolutely nothing to do with Brexit as proven by the fact that the government are panicked into reversing the main reasoning behind Brexit by begging for immigrants to come back. Temporarily. I’m sure they’ll be jumping at the chance to sort out shit out.

    Guess you want to see a roast dinner menu. Yep – roast dinners for just £15.00 in London. And you thought those days were gone.

    The Duchy Arms, Kennington, Roast Dinner Menu

    I’m not keen on topside, I’d had pork belly the week before plus I don’t like red cabbage – so that left me with chicken. Which is the perfect sober solo-dining roast really.

    I wanna pump

    I sat there waiting for far less time than the average person waits for petrol in this crisis that has absolutely nothing to do with Brexit – though I see people on social media blaming everyone else for being selfish yet what do you expect the British public to do when the current government that is not especially well known for being truthful, says, “no need to panic”?

    Granted I also told you not to panic in my review last week but I’m pretty sure one solitary petrol pump could handle every single reader I had last week, in just an hour.

    Oh yeah, so it took around 20 minutes for my roast dinner to arrive. Don’t worry, there is more ranting to come. But on a different subject. Eeeek.

    The Duchy Arms, Kennington, Sunday roast

    I still cannot believe Kier Starmer actually came into my brain. Anyway, the carrots were pretty good, somehow more orange than normal, they seemed to have been roasted and were plentiful. The highlight of the roast. Aha.

    Actually maybe the broccoli was the highlight. It was just ordinary broccoli but it was the item least affected by the gravy – I enjoyed eating it. I should probably go on and talk about the gravy now but I’ve already written that paragraph and it does make more sense at the end. Let’s just say, it wasn’t complimentary.

    The spring greens existed – they were respectable though didn’t add or detract anything to my life.

    The Duchy Arms, Kennington, Roast Dinner

    Pump up the jam on my roast

    The cauliflower cheese was quite nice, and amazingly for London I didn’t have to pay extra for it as a side dish – though it did come on the side. Very creamy, quite cheesy – the cauliflower notably soft but not distressingly so.

    Now we can talk about distress – starting with the roast potatoes. The smaller one was edible – a little tough but nothing too bad. The two larger ones were poor – one of them didn’t even seem like it had been inside an oven – still dry and very undercooked inside. I don’t tend to leave roast potatoes no matter how bad they are, but this one was close to inedible and I did leave it.

    No surprises but the Yorkshire pudding was rubbery and tired. Again I questioned why I was eating it and ended up leaving a third. Not something I often do…I don’t like food waste and really try to avoid it.

    Onto the chicken, and the parts of the chicken that are juicier – the thigh and leg – were pretty good. Still quite tender with crispy skin, I enjoyed it. But the breast was really dry – and the breast is the larger part. So dry, that…yes…I left some on my plate. And I don’t think I’ve ever left meat.

    Finally, and with some sadness and distaste, the gravy was orangey-brown with bright orange oily spots in it, that tasted overwhelmingly salty. You could say that I wasn’t a fan. You could say that it detracted from an already below-average roast dinner. The more I ate, the more I disliked the gravy, the more salt accumulated in my mouth and the more I realised that I really wasn’t enjoying this roast at all.

    The Duchy Arms, Kennington, Orange Gravy
    Can you see the orange?

    Pump up the petrol in my car

    Writing scathing reviews of near-independents (just 3 pubs in the chain) isn’t an especially joyous experience post-pandemic.

    Yet The Duchy Arms was far too quiet for a pub on a sunny, Sunday afternoon – at the very least the garden should be full, if not half the pub too. It has very good reviews on social media, yet few mention the food. I’m kind of hoping that I’m doing them a favour – as they might not realise how poor their Sunday roast offering is. Granted, given that their website is stuck in 1999, they probably won’t read this.

    And it wasn’t like everything was bad. The carrots and broccoli were good, the non-breast part of the chicken was good too. Yet the gravy was pretty bad – probably the worst that I’ve had since a virus didn’t escape from a lab in China – oily, orange, salty with an odd taste. Undercooked roasties, rubbery yorkie, very dry chicken breast – all the most important parts of a roast were, well, pretty crap.

    It is quite easily the worst roast I’ve had this year – and worse than anything I’ve had since the pandemic started.

    I’m scoring it a lowly 5.75 out of 10.

    Given the amount of positive reviews on Google, they are clearly doing something right in terms of being a good pub, and keeping customers happy – one assumes there is a bit of a community vibe to it. It’s very possible that I caught them on an off-day – but also their Instagram mentioned a few weeks back that they had re-launched their Sunday roast offering. So maybe they knew something was wrong then?

    And in between all the good reviews on Google (few of which mention food), there was one saying the food was atrocious.

    Next Sunday I’m going to see mom and pops – assuming my driver can find some petrol by Friday. My mother did say that she was going to cook beef for us next Sunday, to which I replied, “I shall cook the beef”. My mother can only overcook beef.

    So I’ll be back the week after. Apparently the place we are going to is normally excellent but occasionally crap, according to my accomplices. If you need to read something in my absence, there’s always Kier Starmer’s essay

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  • The Devonshire, Balham

    Published 22 September 2021, 7:16 am

  • Don’t panic. The government have told us everything is fine. And with reassurance, I headed off to The Devonshire in Balham…in the Roast Triangle Of Doom.

    Do you ever wonder why you didn’t build that great big gas storage container in your garden?

    With the price of gas rocketing up in the UK, if I had had the foresight, I would have been rich by now (yeah I said Bitcoin was in a bubble at $8,000 last year). I’d be able to finally do Roast Dinners Around The World – well, except the whole mask wearing, quarantine and all that shit that still makes it a ballache.

    But imagine having a big gas storage unit in your garden and the riches you’d have now. Hell, you could probably have bought all those stupidly expensive yet stupidly desirable flats in the old gas container near King’s Cross, converted it back to gas storage, and probably have become a millionaire overnight – and possible Putin’s long lost cousin.

    Albeit inflation means that being a millionaire is pretty worthless. Though don’t panic about inflation either. Everything is fine.

    And there is plenty of food. Thanks to leaving the EU, we are currently prospering mightily, and have no concerns over the lack of CO2 and the fact that we might all be having vegetarian roasts come October. I call it Project Vegan Fear.

    Even the Daily Express think everything is fine…oh…

    Daily Express headlines - 2016 we will prosper mightily free from EU.  2021 - crisis talks over fears of food shortages within days.

    Don’t panic

    Everything was so fine on Sunday that my tube train turned up early. Alas too early for me and I spent 25 minutes waiting for the next one. And then went to help a friend move house. Yes, I have a friend actually moving TO London – not from London.

    Finally, 3pm arrived and I arrived at The Devonshire in Balham. You know what is coming, don’t you? Well, you do if you read my tweets. Menu?

    The Devonshire, Balham, Roast Dinner menu

    On the menu we had beef rump with ox cheek – tempting. Lemon and thyme chicken. And thyme, garlic, orange and fennel pork belly. It was a close call between the beef and the pork, but having barely eaten and done actual exercise stuff, plus being re-assured by the government that everything was fine and it was just a little gas shortage flu, I chose the pork belly at £18.00.

    Plus a side of cauliflower cheese for £4.50, I think – of course I didn’t photograph the part of the menu with the sides.

    And then the waiter said, “just to let you know, there is an hour wait for food”.

    “There is a burger shack outside if you are hungry?”.

    I didn’t panic. I had a beer. Well, I had two beers because I had given up waiting for waiting staff so that I could order one, and gone to the bar – I didn’t even say anything and they apologised profusely, poured me a beer, someone said that they would put it on my tab. At which point they brought me a second beer over.

    Everything is fine

    Free beer! I hope I remember that if we don’t have any beer in future weeks. Though there is no need to panic and this is absolutely nothing to do with Brexit, because our gas bills are going down because of Brexit. Soon. Surely?

    Boris Johnson lying about gas bills going down if we vote to leave the EU

    He wouldn’t lie, would he?

    Our roasts took around 45-50 minutes to arrive – by which point my free beer was going warm.

    The Devonshire, Balham, Sunday roast

    Starting with some advice for chefs. If you are going to insist on using butternut squash in a roast – make it taste of something. Yes, I know, some of my cooking is dreadful – I attempted empanadillas on Monday night and feel that I need to write to the King of Spain to apologise to his nation – but hey, some of you probably give feedback on the website I work on to my employer yet don’t even know that null is an object.

    Anyway, the butternut squash was tasteless and pointless.

    There was several chunky, vertically-halved carrots – all quite soft, none of them seemed to have the maple flavour that the menu offered but I’m not Canadian so I’m not going to panic over the lack of maple syrup on my carrots.

    And then I was like, OMG PANIC. The menu had said creamed leeks with PEAS. Peas. And I had forgotten to say anything.

    There is no need to panic

    Yet creamed leeks thankfully came without peas, and almost without leek – though there was some cabbage. This was pretty nice – the highlight of unspectacular vegetables.

    The Devonshire, Balham cauliflower cheese

    The cauliflower cheese was total mush – like the cauliflower had been boiled to death. Shame as it actually tasted of cheese, but the texture was unappealing. My accomplice didn’t even bother trying it.

    At least the roast potatoes were freshly cooked, which is something I don’t often get to say. Alas, they were far too large and therefore a bit undercooked – one notably so, but the other two just needed another 15 minutes or so and they might actually have been really good roasties. On their way to good.

    The Devonshire, Balham, Roast Dinner

    So the Yorkshire pudding was a bit tired and rubbery, but not too bad. I could have quite happily not eaten it but I don’t like to waste food. Blame the war. And Brexit.

    The pork belly was either so tough that I needed to ask for a steak knife, or the knife was so crap that I needed to ask for a steak knife. It was quite cooked earlier – notably so, yet it was still enjoyable enough. Just not as much as it would have been at 10am.

    I didn’t notice the fennel, orange or thyme that the menu suggested – apparently it was stuffed with it. Some of the crackling was enticing – other parts tough and rubbery. At the ends the pork was notably tough too. I’m not really selling it, am I? It was kind of OK though.

    My accomplice had the beef, which came with ox cheek and I was quite jealous of that – she was complimentary about the beef.

    Finally, the gravy. It was actually quite good. Inoffensive, some vague meat stock taste, some consistency – Young’s pubs (and The Devonshire is one) went through a stage of watery piss in 2019, but this was quite good.

    These are only crisis talks

    You’ve made it to the summary. Phew. Even my honourary Brexit follower is still here, aren’t you?

    Somehow I have Brexiters that follow me – well, I’m surprised that anyone follows me at all sometimes, or that I even have any friends. Well, I have plenty of friends but most of them have chosen to move as far away as possible from where I am.

    So it was pleasing this week to not only have helped a friend move to London, but also to have met a Twitter follower, as I kind of started hoping before the pandemic that I might meet a few of you. You know, things in common – a love of roast dinners and a loathing of Brexit. Maybe you might like Romanian minimal techno and have some single Spanish friends that you can introduce to me also?

    One thing that does amuse me is that when I meet people who have read the blog, they often think there is some kind of mysterious, scientific scoring system, but nah, I just pick a score out of my head really.

    There was a lot of food. Roast potatoes were actually freshly cooked, if not cooked long enough. The creamed leeks with peas had no peas and were pleasantly creamy. Gravy was quite good.

    Hmmm, there isn’t actually much to sell it on, is there?

    Butternut squash was pointless, yorkie was a bit rubbery, pork belly was a bit tough, roast potatoes a bit undercooked.

    Though nothing was really that bad either. Not a good roast but not a bad roast either. An existing roast.

    I’m scoring it a 6.78. My accomplice scored it “around a 7”.

    I’ll be back next week – I don’t actually have a plan yet. I kind of feel like sitting outside, by myself, having a crap roast dinner and moaning about the weather being better in September than any month of summer.

    Or maybe just moaning about Brexit.

    "Your dinner is in the supply chain" cartoon.

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  • The Bridge, Barnes

    Published 13 September 2021, 5:59 pm

  • Another Sunday, another roast dinner and this time I headed to The Bridge in Barnes. After running a half-marathon to keep up my superior fitness levels because I am mostly a sex god.

    Oh fuck I might have lied to you in the opening paragraph. Though I did go to The Bridge. And it was in Barnes. Well, maybe it was in Barnes but Google seems to think it was in some place called Castelnau, but that sounds way too foreign so I’ve decided to rename it after John Barnes.

    Speaking of footballing intellect, here’s another one.

    Matt Le Tissier tweet asking why we didn't try to defeat flu

    Someone really needs to invent a flu vaccine one year.

    And you wondered why he was never picked for England? Speaking of morons…

    Conseravtives Manifesto pledge that they will not increase income tax, VAT or National Insurance

    So we found out last week that Boris Johnson lies. Revelation 2.16 of the book of Tony. Oh wait…we actually found out this week that the people who serve me roast dinners on probably little more than minimum wage, will have to pay extra National Insurance so that old people who own most of the housing, campaign against new housing being built so they can keep their view of the church spire 5 miles away and insisted on enforcing Brexit on us, can have more money spent on them.

    Though to make it a little less painful, their extortionate triple-lock pension of 8.5% that they demanded this year – 4 times current rate of inflation – will be reduced to 2.5% this year.

    Wayne Bridge

    Ah but maybe the Brexit dividend can pay for it? Surely we should be getting richer by now? What’s that? Three are joining O2 in re-introducing roaming charges?

    Daily Express article claiming roaming charges won't come back.

    And PayPal are introducing 1.29% charges for business payments between the EU and UK? Bit by bit, we are getting poorer. Not to mention the extra tariffs, £700m of extra bureaucracy, a fall from being Germany’s 4th largest supplier to 11th, shit in our water, produce unpicked from farms, a £13bn tax rise, shortages in supermarkets, mobile phone roaming charges, worker shortages in key industries and an estimated £870 a year cost for every household through the depreciation of Sterling.

    I know that you are waiting for the bus. I was waiting for a tube. No Metropolitan line this Sunday gone so I had to rely on the Pick Your Willy line. Which after nearly 10 minutes of waiting, just sailed past the platform. I do prefer TFL to Brexit. Just.

    Welcome 2 Da Matrix graffiti on Piccadilly Line

    Cue another 10 or so minutes of waiting and wondering which pill I had taken, and before too long I was in Barnes – which was the easiest roast dinner to get to on my to-do list when the Met line is totally closed.

    The Bridge felt quite empty on arrival, though plenty of tables were booked (and some tables inevitably seemed not to turn up) – but most importantly, it smelt of roast dinner.

    A pleasant enough pub inside, suitable for families – I did very much appreciate the rowing boat which had been turned into a light fitting on the ceiling. A small-looking garden out back, though maybe it was much larger – peak wasp weirdness season means I tend not to bother with the struggle of dining outdoors by mid-September.

    Beer choice was fine – they had a couple of Brixton beers on which is pleasing if not especially imaginative – something that I’d quite like my willy to be described as one day.

    Basil Bridge

    Last week I had forgotten to photograph the prices on the menu, this week I just forgot to photograph the menu – thankfully it was online:

    The Bridge, Barnes, Roast dinner menu

    There was nothing I especially fancied so I asked the waitress for her advice, who recommended the chicken and the lamb shank. I do like a lamb shank, so I went for that at £18.50. My accomplice went for the beef – despite the other two roasts being recommended. We ordered a side of cauliflower cheese to share at £4.75 also.

    Our roasts took around 20 minutes to arrive – one of those put it together yourself roasts, and the cauliflower cheese looked especially impressive:

    The Bridge, Barnes, Sunday roast

    Starting with the carrots, these were very, very soft – almost as if they would turn to puree with a bit of a breeze. I’m not sure they were roasted – perhaps boiled and warmed on a grill (which seemed to be what we could see) – they were tasty though, quite herby, plentiful and well seasoned.

    The parsnips had also gone through this ultra-softening process. They were crying out for crispy edges – they tasted strongly of parsnip despite the extreme softness yet there was an oddness that I couldn’t quite work out too.

    Not much I can say about the cabbage, seasoned and softish. However, I could say something more about Brexit…

    Brexit promises vs Brexit reality meme

    Still hungry?

    Onto the cauliflower cheese and this was a bit of a cheese sensation. Unlike last week where the cheese was an afterthought, this was absolutely central to the dish – a sticky, creamy sauce, fairly soft cauliflower (they do like things soft at The Bridge…old people?) but again I must insist on how cheesy this was. Like Ann Widdecombe’s…elbows. Yes, elbows.

    Ernie Bridge

    The two roast potatoes which looked crispy, were not crispy – and a tiny bit rubbery. The one which didn’t look crispy, wasn’t crispy either – but was soft and fluffy inside. Despite being texturally insufficient, they did taste really nice – again really well seasoned and tasted like they had been cooked in goose fat or something vaguely more exotic than Ann Widdecombe’s…knees.

    I didn’t enjoy the Yorkshire pudding. I ate it, but I’ve no idea why. It felt dried out like it had been under a heat lamp for half a day like Andrew Neil’s toupee. I’ve had worse – you know that – but this was below par.

    The Bridge, Barnes, Roast dinner

    The lamb shank was really nice – the star of the roast. Quite an oily feel to it, but I’m fine with that at my stage of obesity, nicely roasted on the outside, soft and succulent on the inside, and a good quality cut too.

    Alas, my accomplice’s beef looked like my mother had cooked it (love you) – it looked overdone and cheap. My accomplice’s words to describe it were something like, “a bit crap”.

    Finally, the jus. It’s been a while since I’ve had my gravy substituted for posh watery nonsense – of all the things that seem to be getting worse in Britain, I do seem to be getting proper gravy more often (this is my influence – right?). For a jus, it wasn’t bad – watery, quite a strong red wine ish flavour but nothing too overpowering. I’d always prefer a proper gravy on a roast dinner, but for a jus, well, it was fine.

    Jeff Bridges

    Can you believe that the NHS is such a disgrace that its already spent that £350m a week extra we are giving it and now needs more money that we are pretending is going to social care but is really going to cut short-term waiting lists to ensure that the Tories get a majority in 2024? But hey, I’m sure house prices will come down soon. They will, right?

    Boris Johnson lying about giving the NHS £350 million a week.

    It’s a bit all over the place this post, isn’t it? And suitably, so was the roast dinner. The softest vegetables ever without becoming puree – yet that isn’t an especially major crime, a duff yorkie and the malaise of jus constituted some disappointment.

    Yet there was plenty of flavour, plenty of seasoning, the lamb shank was seductive and the cauliflower cheese was a cheese superstar – possibly the best cauliflower cheese of the year, at least that I remember. Note to self – start making notes for Roast Dinner Awards 2021.

    Service was good, I did get a very nice glass of Malbec, prices were respectable.

    I’m scoring it a healthy 7.33 out of 10. My accomplice, who didn’t like her beef but enthused about the rest of the roast a tad more than I did, scored it a 7.40 out of 10. This is the 4th roast dinner that I’ve had in Barnes – and the best of the 4.

    I’ll be back next week – I shall be meeting a Twitter follower, which is almost as exciting as eating a roast dinner.

    And finally, I have found a Brexit dividend – we won some tennis! Go Britain! If this isn’t a Brexit dividend, then I doubt I’ll ever be able to find one.

    A Brexit dividend (Emma Raducanu)

    Priti Patel is soooo getting sacked for letting her become British.

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  • The Farrier, Camden

    Published 9 September 2021, 7:23 am

  • It’s roast dinner review 175 and we chose to head Camden to celebrate at The Farrier.

    Camden is one of those spots in London where I’ve had surprisingly few roast dinners compared to the amount of establishments in the area – I barely even visit Camden nowadays, which is probably something to do with living in London.

    The scruffy Camden Market has been replaced by a modern container market since I last walked past. The area where The Farrier is located feels like it has also been totally unshitholed, though it must have been a good 5-10 years since I have been right to the far end of the market.

    And The Farrier itself is new, having opened only a few months ago. Situated opposite posh twat shops like Teddy Boy and A Dandy In Aspic – if like me you are wondering what aspic is, apparently it is “a savoury jelly made with meat stock, set in a mould and used to contain pieces of meat, seafood, or eggs.”. OK.

    Do you want to know what a farrier is? They are specialists in equine hoof care. Neigh. In Camden Stables Market. In the building which used to be a horse hospital. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

    Girl in pretty dress with "I want ketamine" painted on her back

    Yes, it’s a pretty dress, isn’t it? Something else I learnt this week, and boy is this blog post in danger of becoming as educational as a Media Studies degree, is that apparently you can wear the same dress twice.

    Anyone for Molly?

    Yes, someone called Molly Mae Hague, who apparently isn’t just an influencer any more (though I cannot say that I have previously been influenced by her), came out with these strong words, “I’m a strong believer in wearing the same dress twice”.

    Fucking hell. Some of my t-shirts are into their second decade. Well, they would be if I was a size medium like I somehow happened to be when I went to nightclubs a lot 10 years ago (great exercise) rather than the extra large size I am now I go to pubs a lot, but you know, the intention is there. I definitely have pants from 10 years ago.

    I guess I’m just jealous after spending my life-savings on a Dolce & Banana wedding dress for my future lesbian wedding once I’ve had a sex change and found a beautiful Spanish lesbian. Not sure which is less likely to happen, but I am wearing the wedding dress every time I go to the gym to get my money’s worth.

    Want to see an artist’s impression of my future wedding?

    Man and woman in wedding dress

    She kind of looks Spanish right? Though I’m even less likely to have my hair that short than get married to a Spanish lesbian (or even non-lesbian). Granted that’s a bit of an in-joke to those who have met me. We can be friends, if you want? I’m quite normal. 4 of the people that came to the roast dinner on Sunday I met through having this blog. None of them Spanish, though two did live in Spain.

    I am actually tempted to move to Madrid for a year…well…maybe a winter, to try to find a Spanish wife. Once I’m not obese. You know, there are surprisingly few men in wedding dresses photographs on Google. Guess they also follow Molly Mae Hague’s wisdom.

    Anyone seen Molly?

    Speaking of things only to do once (at least this summer), maybe I should start writing about sitting in the sunshine.

    Arriving very early at The Farrier, I was shown to our table – situated inside but near the large open sliding doors, with the sun blazing straight at me. I had a stonking hangover too. Roast dinner + hangover + hot sunshine in my face = bad. You don’t need to be a Spanish lesbian mathematician to work that out.

    Yet as it was the first time that I’d seen the sun in 7 weeks, I decided to cope. Some seats were in the shade or less in the sun, at least with their backs to the sun – there was 9 of us in total, due to a birthday – which, of course, was second priority to celebrating roast dinner 175.

    The Farrier looked and felt very spacious. A brick built building and that was fully taken advantage of in the design, with a fair-sized outdoor seating area too – though almost all in the shade due to the low angle of the sun at this time of year.

    Beer choice wasn’t amazing, a Goose Island Midway (I think) sufficed (I think) – oddly I was told that it was bar service only when I arrived, but once all the guests had arrived then it became table service.

    The kitchen was open so you could see the chefs at work – and my walk past to go for my miniature hangover wee was sufficient to persuade me that I needed to order pork. But let’s see the menu anyway.

    Anyone seen the prices?

    The Farrier, Camden, roast dinner menu

    Oh good, I didn’t photograph the prices. Look, I had this mysterious yellow ball shining in my face, OK? So the beef sirloin was £24.00, pork loin was £20.00, chicken breast I think £18.00 and vegan £17.00. I think.

    Yes, I’m mentioning the vegan roast. Two vegans joined me for dinner. Well, they joined the birthday celebrating accomplice for dinner, but I also like them – part of the reason that we chose The Farrier was because they had a vegan option.

    Except when they ordered, the waiter apologised and said that the menu was wrong, but they do have celeriac steak.

    Celeriac steak.

    Are you converted to veganism yet?

    Neigh

    Our roasts took around 25-30 minutes to arrive, I think, and we’d also ordered some sides which I think were around £6.00.

    Starting with what presentationally looked more like a hangover turd from Halloween (big plans this year FYI for a Halloween roast), and thankfully for that comparison tasted pretty much of nothing. Yes a pile of tasteless orange mush, which also leaked a little fluid so covered almost half the plate. I assumed that it was butternut squash. There was far too much of it. 100% too much, but maybe 10% of what was supplied might have been an intriguing touch.

    The parsnips, which you cannot see because after 175 roast dinners I still haven’t worked out that I need to photograph what I’m writing about (the sun was in my eyes, OK?), were small, roasted and I thought reasonable in terms of texture but not especially flavoursome.

    Yeah you cannot see the kale either. Hang on, maybe let’s do the second photograph now.

    The Farrier, Camden, roast dinner

    Cool, you can see the kale now. Unlike the other vegetables this had flavour. Around 8 lemons worth of lemon juice per portion of kale with some garlic too. It was not far away from eye-wateringly tangy…why do this? Did nobody taste this before it left the kitchen?

    Gosh I’ve been craving the opportunity to excoriate a roast. Oh this feels good. Or is it the sunshine that feels good?

    Anyway, so one of the roast potatoes was really good – crispy on the outside, soft enough on the inside. Some others on the table also reported one really good roast potato.

    I want ketamine.

    Alas, the other two roast potatoes were tired, chewy and felt like they’d been made the previous Sunday. The perils of cooking roast potatoes in advance are almost as much as confusing ketamine for cocaine.

    Opinions on the Yorkshire pudding were varied around the table, but mine was notably chewy, especially but not exclusively away from the bottom. Really not enjoyable at all, though for some reason I ate it. Blame the sunshine. Blame the hangover. Blame the lack of ketamine.

    INCOMING VEGAN SECTION.

    INCOMING VEGAN SECTION.

    INCOMING VEGAN SECTION.

    Wait…don’t leave, you’ll want to read this too. Honest. As we had two vegan friends, I promised them a vegan section as they would like to indoctrinate you.

    I need ketamine

    The Farrier, Camden, Vegan roast dinner

    I was supposed to be getting some words from my vegan accomplice – let’s just say that she was so unamused that she asked for her money back, and at £17.00 for two slices of celeriac “steak” plus some veggies and some vegetarian gravy (was it vegan?!) I don’t blame her.

    Well I hope that persuaded you to become vegan. Here’s an artist impression of what a vegan might think of that roast dinner.

    Molly-Mae with a look of disdain

    With fairly insincere apologies to our vegan friends, everyone raved about their meat and said it was the highlight of their meal. The corn-fed chicken was apparently one of the best portions of chicken that one accomplice had, the beef looked proper sexy and was complimented by all beef eaters.

    I had the pork loin, which looked the part and was juicy, tender and reasonably generous in quantity.

    The Farrier, Camden, Gravy

    Just to clarify that is gravy being poured. My nearest accomplice said it was bland, and sure it wasn’t the tastiest – but gravy doesn’t need to taste of too much to be good – the thickness of the gravy meant it was good. Sure, I’ve had many a better gravy – but also many a worse one, including when chefs make the gravy flavour overpowering. Better a lack of flavour, than too much uncomplimentary flavour.

    For me and most others, the gravy was good.

    I got regretamine

    Well I guess you could call the roast dinner at The Farrier, regretamine. And fuck you, Elon Musk, for pretending to create MY word that I’ve been using since watching people make roast potatoes at Sunday morning afterparties.

    Yeah, there’s as many problems with the roast dinner at The Farrier as there is with my idea of marrying a Spanish lesbian. The watery mush was just blandness de perfection, the kale was so overpowering in lemon and garlic, the yorkie chewy, two thirds of the roasties seemed leftover from when it was previously sunny and I can barely even speak Spanish. La cuenta, por favor.

    Gosh I just realised that I didn’t mention the sides that we ordered, at around £6.00 each.

    The creamed leeks were weird – weird bad, like wearing a dress three times. 4 large chunks of leek, but tasting of flour – I’m really not sure where the cream came into it. I had just one of the 4 chunks. I paid £6.00 this. Possibly £5.50.

    Cauliflower cheese also had a lack of cream (Brexit?) and the cheese was hit and miss. Get a bite with cheese on, and I did more than other’s did, then it was tasty. Yet the cheese was used sparingly, not helped by the lack of cream, so much of it was just ordinary cauliflower. For £6.00. Or maybe £5.50.

    What else went wrong? Well, the beer choice was uninspiring but acceptable. The bottle of red wine we ordered tasted quite cheap – and they didn’t charge us for it. Normally I will own up when undercharged – I’ve done it soooooo many times this year (check out my halo dot com), but I’d had sufficient disappointment to assuage my guilt.

    Je ne regretamine everything

    Yet it wasn’t all disappointment. The meat was fairly delicious – they are at least getting that very right. It really was top quality meat, cooked perfectly. The gravy was good, and one of the roast potatoes was very good.

    Also they suggested not to charge for the shambles of a vegan roast that they served up – which was appreciated. Service was mostly fine, and the venue really has potential.

    I’ve just read that The Farrier is run by three fellow Yorkshiremen, so I do hope that if they read this, they at least take a look at the roast potatoes they are serving. It isn’t actually that far away from being a good roast dinner – sort the roasties out, go back to basics on the vegetables, add some seasoning – this probably could, and should be really good.

    There was quite a range of scores around the table, the lowest was a 5.00, the highest an 8.00 – others were 7.10, 7.00, 6.80 and a 6.00.

    Sadly, the more I write about it, and the more I think about it, the lower my score gets. I’m scoring it a 6.61.

    I’ll be back next week. I’m on call, going sober and there’s no Met line, so it will be wherever is least inconvenient.

    See you at my wedding. I really am a pretty little thing.

    Fat bloke in a wedding dress and make-up, kind of 80's vibe

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  • The Royal Oak, Marylebone

    Published 1 September 2021, 4:59 pm

  • Hope you are well. This week I went to The Royal Oak, a pub in Marylebone. Hope you are well.

    I hope you are well. I really like your profile and I’m keen to find out more about your expertise. I hope you are well! I came across your profile. I hope you’re well. I came across your profile. Hope you’re well and everything is going well at PeacockTV at the moment. I hope your well? I hope you’re well. What’s next for you, Joseph? Hope all is well! Hope you’re well!

    Yes, I did the most dangerous thing that a software engineer could do, and clicked “open to opportunities” on LinkedIn.

    A deluge of drudge followed, mostly recruiters trying to get me to work for the company that makes those awful fucking local news websites that constantly re-arrange adverts so that you cannot read the article about the latest sex pest in Middlesbrough.

    Don’t worry, I’m safe posting this here as my boss is a vegan so he isn’t going to read this, and no, this isn’t going to be my first ever vegan roast dinner.

    Besides, I’ll tell him what I’ve done. And then ask for another pay rise. And be like, “yeah, I’m going to leave”. I’m nearly leaving. I will be leaving soon. I hope I’m well. Yep, I’m really going to leave a job I really like. Yep, leaving soon. Might accept an interview. Then I’m leaving.

    A royal remoaner

    Oh fuck, does that make me the British government of software engineering? How are things? Hope all is well. Hope all is well!

    So this week I was heading to Reading straight after my roast dinner to a pub with an outdoor toilet block, and Neck Oil at £4.60 a pint. Aha. Under £6.00. And an outdoor toilet block. Regretamine ahead.

    I chose The Royal Oak because it was on my way to Paddington, though sadly it had just ordinary bog-standard indoor…bogs.

    An early roast dinner, I was pretty much the only person when I arrived, and dining alone too. I do like The Royal Oak, I’d been here a couple of times and it is a good solid pub in an area more famed for upmarket nosh – not that The Royal Oak is slumming it, but it is more my level.

    And weirdly, I had been here the year before, to the date.

    A year to the date that I had my first post-lockdown public transport journey. A year to the date that I first tried to wear a mask, albeit not very well and not over my nose. Not breathing does get easier over time. I hope you are keeping well and had a good start to the week.

    A royal hope you are well

    Menu time.

    There was a choice of rump cap at £18.00 or half a roast chicken at £17.00 – cheap for Marylebone. I went for the latter, knowing that I had a long day of drinking ahead of me, and thought chicken would be the lighter option.

    And then this arrived:

    Holy chicken.

    Starting with the carrots which were sliced and had been roasted – I couldn’t quite work out the flavour, there was an oaky kind of taste, but otherwise these were fine yet uninspiring.

    I couldn’t actually remember that I’d had cabbage the next day – I’m not sure whether that was because it was so unrememberable or whether it was because I was as pickled as calculator boy at Creamfields this weekend:

    That is just stunningly beautiful, isn’t it? Alas, the cabbage was a bit mushy and forgettable. Edible but whatever.

    The broccoli had a bit of a crunch to it, but also felt a tad past its best on a couple of the florets.

    An unremarkable start as we head onto the roast potatoes, which are about as likely to be good as the Daily Mail are to call for a union with the EU. Wait, they did what?

    Anyway, unlike the genius new-fangled idea of uniting with the EU to remove borders, the roast potatoes were nothing to write home about. A little crispy on the outside but a little tired too. Really rather middling. How are you? Hope you are doing well.

    Now onto the good parts…

    Oh by the way, in case you thought that I’d slipped my anonymity mask earlier – my name is not Joseph and I don’t work for PeacockTV. Some recruiters haven’t quite yet mastered copying and pasting.

    So the Yorkshire pudding was large and good. Large and good. By time all the gravy had soaked into it, it was proper soggy on the bottom, the sides were the right level of crisp. This was actually good.

    I hope your well

    The half a chicken was huge – a Nando’s accountant would have had a heart attack if they sold chicken this plump…well, if they had any chicken to sell. Fucking EU, stopping us employing enough lorry drivers.

    Anyway, so the chicken went on and on and ariston. I hope you’re well 😊. Plump, juicy – the breast meat wasn’t dry like it often can be, the skin was crispy and salty, the thigh was just glorious. This was an impressive piece of chicken.

    And, erm, who the fuck is this?

    I would just like to clarify that Yung Gravy is not me. Nor my child. Yes I do have a jacket like that. Yes I do like gravy. And yes I did like the gravy at The Royal Oak. Not only did I like it, but the waiter asked me if I wanted more – I didn’t even need to prompt him. It wasn’t an indecent amount in the first place, but the next jug was large.

    I even made an action shot. Are you proud of me? I hope this message finds you in good health?

    I know you get a lot of boring messages with “amazing job opportunities” every day so I decided to make a short video for you instead 🙂 Please watch my personalized message here.

    WTF?

    Oh yeah, this was class gravy. Thick, seemingly infinite, a good level of stocky taste. Proper yum. Oh yeah, that action shot:

    Time 4 a new role?

    No, not if you cannot fucking use real words in a subject.

    Well, the roast dinner at The Royal Oak was a bit of a mixed bunch. Partly very good, partly could be improved. Shock horror the roasties could be improved – nothing new there. But also I think their vegetable offering needs to be stronger, it felt almost an after-thought.

    For the positives, the chicken was huge, super plump and juicy. I could happily eat that again. The gravy was thick, the Yorkie was soft and crispy in the right places – The Royal Oak got a lot right.

    Service was attentive, though they didn’t have too much to be attentive for. Beer choice was good – they had a chorizo scotch egg with roasted garlic alioli on the bar snacks menu, which I really want to come back for. I must find an excuse. I will find an excuse – it is relatively convenient for me, as much as anywhere can be convenient on the Metropolitan line from Harrow.

    I’m scoring it a 7.66 out of 10. The vegetable offering needs to be improved to take it from a very good roast to an excellent roast – but it is very much good enough to be worth a visit.

    Next Sunday I’m going to a fairly newly opened pub – one with high prices and high expectations. The kind of place that could easily fail those expectations. As much as I’d prefer them to meet my high expectations, I am also keen to write a scathing review…it has been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to truly eviscerate.

    I do hope that you are well.

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  • The Blue Boar, Westminster

    Published 25 August 2021, 5:04 pm

  • This weeks review of The Blue Boar was a return to the scene of some of the greatest crimes that I’ve experienced – Westminster.

    Don’t worry, this is not yet another Brexit special.

    A few years ago, I went to politico’s pub, The Red Lion – it was actually a free meal because I’d rated a Friday night meal badly on a Facebook review, and they offered me this to apologise:

    Awful roast dinner from The Red Lion in Westminster

    Which is the roast dinner equivalent of Nigel Farage taking up Morris dancing to apologise for Brexit

    Ahhh man of the people. As you can see.

    Nigel Farage being a cock in a white suit
    From Blue Boar to moronic bore

    Oh gosh, maybe it is going to be a Brexit special. You know I don’t really plan what I’m going to write? I just sit here and write, see what happens. I do take a few notes. During the week, maybe I’ll conjure up some theme – usually there is something moronic that the government has done that I can take the piss out of, or maybe something happens on the way there, or maybe there is something that everyone is talking about that I can latch onto – “it’s just a little flu”, “it’s coming home”, etc.

    This roast being in Westminster, there wasn’t really need to think of a theme. It’s Westminster. But also, Westminster has a surprisingly poor selection of pubs and restaurants – perhaps not surprisingly because of their possible political clientele – though also maybe the best restaurants are not on Google Maps and therefore are not meant for riff-raff like myself.

    Who’s a blue bore?

    I actually picked The Red Lion, home of two truly shite dinners that I had a few years ago, as the best in the area from Google reviews. I’ve also eaten at The Buckingham Arms, which I massively over-rated, but I was new to the roast dinner scene in London and expected it to be worse than it is (I used to have a blog about roast dinners in Reading – and they really were awful at times).

    And I’m sure you’ve also been to some quite ropey, under-maintained pubs in Westminster, quite merrily picking up the tourist dollar without needing to worry about actually attracting customers. Oxford Street does this very well too – crap pubs that don’t need to improve because of the passing trade.

    So I was intrigued when I found out that The Blue Boar was opening. They’ve got a very slick social media marketing set-up – it definitely isn’t an after-thought run by the deputy manager whenever he/she remembers, there is clearly a PR company in charge of this, albeit one that doesn’t understand that roast potatoes are not for dipping into some white sauce.

    Inside the pub/restaurant/bar, I’ll come onto the classification in a moment or ten, was quite grand feeling – it was a large and kind of classy place – besuited waiters made me feel a tad riff-raff in my short shorts, until some sweaty obese types arrived and I realised my comparative elegance once more.

    There were different areas of the pub/restaurant/bar that had a different feel. We were near the window, which was more bright and airy, but there are definitely darker corners where you could hide with a mistress too. Chairs and tables were solid – ours had Westminster green padded seating, and were quite elegant.

    Yet there was still something about the pub/restaurant/bar that felt a tad inauthentic. Perhaps it was because it was struggling to define itself, “[a] modern take on a classic English pub in the heart of Westminster” or “dark wood & cosy chairs give this hotel bar, serving an all day bistro menu, a clubhouse feel”. But also perhaps because the wood panelling looked like it was from Argos.

    Also they advertise someone called Sally Abé as their chef, who is apparently renowned. Well, I’m not really clued-up about chefs, but she’s worked at The Ledbury and The Harwood, so this was sufficient enough to make me hopeful of a good roast dinner.

    Is it a pub, bore?

    It was only afterwards that I found out that The Blue Boar was owned by Hilton – which is a whole theme in itself.

    Paris Hilton.  Not on drugs.

    Another time, perhaps.

    Though that probably explains the slick marketing campaign and good quality seating. Could the food and drinks actually be up to standard?

    The beer choice was nothing special – various types of Meantime, which is fine but unexciting. One of my accomplices ordered the Blue Boar Lager, which he described as being a little like Foster’s – not the greatest praise you could have for a lager branded with your establishment name.

    On the menu, they also offered “beer of the month”. I enquired with some hope as to what this might be. London Pride, was the answer.

    George Osborne drinking London Pride

    Gosh, we really are still all in it together, aren’t we? I’m possibly the only person in the country willing to admit that I quite liked George Osborne. Not too much, but more than I like fucking “beer of the month”, anyway.

    Let’s move onto the food menu before the internet lynches me.

    Boar bore or joar jaw

    The Blue Boar, Westminster, Sunday Roast

    Believe it or not, I did actually consider the veggie told in the hole – yes I considered the vegetarian option. Mostly because I’d consumed 6,755 calories the day before and was already feeling the need to go back to being healthy that normally consumes me on a Monday morning.

    I actually had vegetarian sausages at a BBQ this summer, well, one sausage, and it was pretty good. Plus it comes with black garlic gravy which sounded tasty. But I’ve gone 173 roast dinners without a vegetarian roast – and when I do eventually succumb to societal pressure, it needs to be a “what the fuck are you doing” moment.

    I’d had beef the week before, plus I’m “meh” about rump, so loin of Berkshire pork it was, for £25.00.

    Two of us also ordered cauliflower cheese at £6.00 each – we were advised (correctly) that it was not sufficient to share, and my other accomplice ordered the bone marrow – which is a rare offering. I was curious about the clapshot croquettes, but not enough to order them – apparently clapshot is mashed swede and potato, with chives and butter. I was expecting it to be something gamey until I did my research just now.

    Our roasts took around 20 minutes or so to arrive, whilst we discussed my accomplice’s career change from chef to HGV driver, and his much improved working conditions. Why is it normal for chefs to work 12 hour shifts?

    Shall we start with the carrot? It feels traditional, this was nicely roasted, soft, a little charred – just half a carrot. All good.

    Tenderstem broccoli was pretty perfect in terms of a slight crunch and also had a slight wilting on the outside, as if it had 10 seconds directly on heat.

    The parsnip, which you will see later and one day I might learn to photograph my dinners so that you can see what I’m talking about, was rather anaemic. Tough, undercooked – though possibly not really in season – this was a disappointment.

    I’ll show you a blue bore

    Just as a reminder we had to pay £6.00 for the cauliflower cheese, it was only a small portion in a teacup, but was pretty excellent. Gooey, cheesey, nicely charred on top – with the cauliflower soft to eat too.

    The Blue Boar, Westminster, Roast Dinner

    We actually had 4 roast potatoes each. They were actually quite soft on the inside. The were actually quite crispy on the outside. No, I didn’t slowly dip them in some mysterious white sauce and yes they can very much be beaten – these are good, but not great.

    Good but not great would also describe the Yorkshire pudding – both this and the roasties are regular failures in London so you’ve probably worked out this is a winning roast by now. It was quite crispy, I’d have liked a softer bottom, but it was good enough.

    Oh fuck – I’ve just remembered what my theme was going to be. Guess it can wait until next week. I hope your well.

    The pork loin was top quality pork – so tender throughout as if it had been delicately cooked, but the quality of the cut really shone through. A charred finish gave it an edge and some added complexity to taste. Really, really nicely done.

    I was a tad perturbed to see something resembling a quaver (or perhaps a prawn cracker) masquerading as crackling, yet it kept the crackling flavour and had a more airy texture – long enough in my mouth and it may have melted. This was also good.

    Finally, the gravy. The pork had different gravy to the beef – which looked better (ie thicker) but I’d say that my pork gravy was probably the tastier of the two. Quite a rich meat stock flavour, a little oily on the tongue – complimentary if not sexy.

    Bored yet? I’m nearly done, don’t worry.

    I still haven’t answered whether I think The Blue Boar is a restaurant or a pub. Well, I’m going to say that it is a restaurant pretending to be a pub. If the menu was Italian dishes rather than pub food, then you wouldn’t call it a pub.

    Clearly they do their food very well, and have a top-notch chef on board.

    This was a pretty excellent roast dinner. Top quality pork, good gravy, good roasties – the anaemic parsnip was really the only disappointment.

    Service does need a bit of work. Twice our drinks orders went to the wrong table, one drink was brought to me a second time (alas I couldn’t keep it and I’m sure it will have been poured away), one member of staff seemed particularly surly, another wouldn’t let two respectable passers-by use the toilet when they asked – yet a different staff member let someone who appeared to be more “street drinker” style use the toilet.

    It just felt a bit disjointed and like it needs a bit of smoothing over – though on the flip side, it is a new venue, mostly everyone was very good with us and it isn’t exactly easy to get staff at the moment.

    There plenty to like about The Blue Boar, especially the food, though room for improvement too. It does feel the kind of place that could just revert to average, and coin it in through the tourist trade, but hopefully won’t – as Westminster really does need somewhere doing top-quality food.

    I nearly scored it a bit higher, but have settled on an 8.46 out of 10, which is very much in the excellent category – 13th best roast dinner in London out of 173, at the time of writing. My accomplices scored it a 8.50 and 8.70 respectively. It really was very good.

    Next week will be an unusually early roast dinner – afterwards I’m heading to Reading for an afternoon sesh there. To a pub that closes at 5pm. A pub that closes at 5pm. On a Sunday. On a bank holiday Sunday. On a bank holiday Sunday in a town holding a major festival that weekend. Yeah, it gets a bit weird when you leave London.

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  • The Culpeper, Whitechapel

    Published 18 August 2021, 6:03 pm

  • I don’t know what the first paragraph of this should be. I know what the second, third, fourth and so on paragraphs will be. I guess I just get on with telling you that I went to The Culpeper in Whitechapel.

    STOP. We have a potential crisis on our hands. Have you seen the news?

    No, I’m not talking about the heart-breaking takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban also probably called “deal of the decade” by the orange fuck-wit who used to run the world, at least where Xi and Putin allowed it, but you know, everything is fine in Afghanistan as long as we pretend women don’t exist and they pretend Al-Qaeda don’t exist, you know, 20 years of effort, $2 trillion, thousands of British, American and arguably more importantly, Afghan lives – yeah let’s not worry about it and pretend everything is fine.

    Urgh, I really didn’t want to get into a rant about Afghanistan because it is going to make me look a dick when I complain about the problems in this country but we are where we are…namely paragraph four.

    We enjoy the blessings of liberal democracy, as much as those around us may not bless us with what we believe is the ideal way forward, it is still a blessing to be able to choose our communal poison.

    We chose a Tory government. We chose a cheating, lying bastard to “get Brexit done”. We once even chose Saint Tony…oh he wasn’t that great either was he? Hell, we even once chose the Liberal Democrats – so many of us that they ended up in government. Crazy shit. Alas, we then chose Brexit. And we chose…a lack of roast potatoes.

    Mid Sussex Times with story about Brexit leading to shortage of roast potatoes

    Culled potatoes

    I think I just about managed that segue from heart-breaking Taliban takeover to the totally frivolous roast potato shortage without looking like a total dick. And who knows, maybe the roast potato shortage won’t happen. Though you can trust the Mid Sussex Times – it says on their website that you can trust them.

    And The Yorkshire Post also has the same story, and you can trust them because it says so on their website.

    Yorkshire Post with story about Brexit leading to shortage of roast potatoes

    Don’t forget the Leamington Spa Courier, you can trust them too.

    Leamington Spa Courier with story about Brexit leading to shortage of roast potatoes

    Ethan Stone has a a lot of jobs, doesn’t he? How does he find the time to work for all these news websites that you can trust?

    Northumberland Gazette with story about Brexit leading to shortage of roast potatoes

    Anyway, so we’ve established the fact that there could be a shortage of roast potatoes this year, because several news websites that you can trust because it says on their websites that you can trust them, are telling us so.

    So it’s obviously true. Wait…you mean we don’t already have a shortage?

    Every single fucking roast dinner I’ve had in London, well bar a very small handful, have had just 3 roast potatoes. Up north, you’d have 5 or 6. Granted, they are so often so bad that I simply wouldn’t want to eat more than 3 but that isn’t the point. There is already a shortage. Given that I moved to London in late 2016…is it possible that Brexit has already caused the shortage? Can anyone remember how many roast potatoes you’d get in 2015 in London?

    Meme about Project Fear and unicorns looking at an ark sailing away

    Culled news

    So this week the random number generator had picked The Culpeper in Whitechapel/Aldgate – I’m not entirely sure where you’d class it, but that kind of area, and I remembered that a colleague at work that lives nearby wanted to join me for a Sunday roast one time, so I enlisted him as my accomplice.

    The Culpeper might have been rather conspicuous at one time, in an area that previously was more glum, than glam, but this area of east-ish London is going through redevelopment (or gentrification if you are jealous of those doing well in life), and the high-ceilinged upmarket vibe of The Culpeper now fits in nicely.

    And when I say upmarket, I don’t mean Mayfair standards – but you know, toilets without copious graffiti or a mosaic of tatty stickers which is as rare as a lorry driver post-Brexit in this area, let alone the rarity of matching chairs and tables. My chair did have a slight wobble though.

    Still a bit of caution at the bar, with plastic dividers – some staff wearing masks, some not – I didn’t notice anyone ordering from the bar, so I assume it was table service only, which suits me.

    Tables still felt rather spaced out – most tables were taken, but it didn’t feel busy, if that makes sense.

    The pub itself is split into 3 floors. Ground floor is the pub, which is where we were situated, on the 1st floor is the restaurant – there is a rooftop too which was fully booked well in advance, and imagine is a delight to inhabit.

    Culled menu

    The Culpeper roast dinner menu

    Pork and beef were the choices, priced £18.50 and £20.00 respectively. I was 50/50 between them, until my accomplice suggested that he ordered the pork, and I ordered the beef, so that we could both try each other’s, which suited me.

    Our dinners took around 20 or so minutes to arrive and arrived whilst I was using the bathroom. I came back and asked my accomplice if he had ordered extra gravy. “No, was I supposed to?”.

    The Culpeper Sunday roast

    More gravy was forthcoming from one of the waitresses who were attractive throughout. I mean attentive. Yes I did fall in love. Yes she was probably half my age.

    So the carrots which you cannot really see from my photograph were roasted softly, with a strong honey flavour – so much so that I thought I could taste it throughout the meal. It seemed like it infected the gravy somewhat.

    The cabbage, which you definitely cannot see was quite chewy, and tasted very much of ginger with a hint of something close to star anise. Interesting but I wasn’t massively keen.

    And the parsnips which you also cannot see…oh fuck it I’ll share the second photograph earlier than I planned.

    The Culpeper Roast Dinner

    These were a bit ying and yang – they were really flavoursome, yet were dry and tired too. And I think the dryness overcame the flavour for me. Is it parsnip season already?

    Culled…oh fuck

    There were no roast potatoes.

    The Galloway Gazette with story about Brexit leading to shortage of roast potatoes

    Fuck me, even the Galloway Gazette predicted this. Did I mention that George Galloway blocked me on Twitter once for responding to him with a fact?

    Anyway, there were no roast potatoes. No roast potatoes. Yep. No roast potatoes. I was warned of this fact when ordering by the waitress, and I did reply at the time that this was controversial – yet I was also thinking that it would work perfectly with my planned Brexit special. However, its replacement was an improvement from roast potatoes (that fucking is not an analogy for Brexit) – at least the roast potatoes that my accomplice had with his pork, which really were dry and tired too…albeit nearly crispy on the outside.

    This potato dish was called Pommes Anna, and was basically layered potato with a heavy buttery texture and taste. I did like it a lot – is this the answer to the the roast potato crisis? I pointed out this crisis to one of my Brexit-voting friends last week, and he advised that he now grows his own potatoes. I guess that is the answer. Though it might be quicker to get a HGV license.

    There was no answer to why I got another burnt Yorkshire pudding. It would have been nice, had it not been cooked too long – it was too crispy, and tasted burnt.

    I quite enjoyed my bavette steak, it had a coarseness that appealed and was juicy inside. It did feel perhaps it was better suited to a traditional steak dinner rather than a roast dinner, but it was still quite enjoyable.

    My accomplice’s pork was actually really, really good (we didn’t swap much!) and more enjoyable than anything else on our respective plates.

    Finally, the gravy. Well it was quite consistent when poured, but there was quite a lot of wetness from the cabbage and perhaps the carrots, so it came to resemble a more watery consistency – and was quite sweet and fruity in flavour, almost apple-like. Not really to my tastes, but not offensive or bad.

    The Culpeper

    The gravy was a good metaphor for the rest of the meal. Mostly, the quality was there and you could tell that the chefs are good. Yet it didn’t quite work for me.

    Fruity gravy? Nah. Overly-honeyed carrots? Nah. Gingered cabbage? Hmmm…not sure. There was nothing wrong with these elements, they just didn’t work for me personally on a roast dinner, all together, as a meal.

    The Yorkshire pudding and parsnips were the only real disappointments, though my accomplice’s roast potatoes were as equally dreadful. My Pommes Anna was really good – an expression of novelty that I appreciated – had the roast potatoes on my accomplice’s plate not been dreadful then my envy would have skewered said appreciation.

    Thinking about it, the roast dinner at The Culpeper fits a little pattern this year, and I include both The Quality Chop House and The Guinea Grill in this. All three I had high expectations for. All three have very good reputations. All three didn’t quite delivery on their roast dinners.

    And like both The Quality Chop House and The Guinea Grill, though their roast didn’t meet my expectations, I came away with an appreciation of an excellent establishment, with very good chefs and a desire to eat there again – albeit not on a Sunday. Maybe you’ve experienced it – you’ve been somewhere for a meal, didn’t really rate the meal, yet rated it as a restaurant still?

    Cull the reviewer

    Bar the burnt Yorkshire pudding and dry parsnips, the quality was there. It just didn’t work for me as a roast dinner. I suspect had I gone with a group of friends, we would have ended up with a wide range of scores.

    My score is a 6.95 – really not an easy one to score. My accomplice, who very rarely eats a Sunday roast and hence didn’t know to ask for extra gravy, scored it a 7.50.

    Other things worth mentioning are that the beer choice was unimpressive, though perhaps there was some mask translation issues going on, service was delightful and attentive throughout and my accomplice wanted a mention for the lack of tomato juice for a Bloody Mary – we can blame Brexit, can’t we? Oh and we shared a dessert:

    The Culpeper Sausage Rolls (our dessert)

    Yes they are sausage rolls. The pastry was suffering a touch of the yorkies, in having been baked a bit too long, but not tooooooooooooooooo long – the Merguez filling was just delightful.

    Which if a sausage roll can prove a point – The Culpeper is likely far better than its roast dinners suggest.

    I’ll be back next week – planning on a trip to a repeated crime scene.

    Finally, here’s a charity to donate to if you also want to help people in Afghanistan in a tiny way. There isn’t much else we can do. Inshallah.

    The post The Culpeper, Whitechapel appeared first on Roast Dinners In London.

  • Heidi, Balham

    Published 11 August 2021, 5:07 pm

  • Another wet August Sunday arrived and it really felt like a roast dinner day. Heidi in Balham was booked.

    Well, every Sunday feels like roast dinner day to me, rain or heatwave – but a bit like it takes a Prime Minister to remind us how glorious coal mining was, it takes incessant weeks of heavy showers for half of Twitter to remember what a roast dinner is.

    Twitter is the universe, right?

    This was my 3rd attempt to make it to Heidi in Balham, following a random number generator selection a few weeks ago. The first attempt was culled due to the pandemic, ironic given that the owner of Heidi isn’t exactly the biggest fan of the app:

    Or lockdown:

    I wonder if he classes himself as a vegetarian Marxist?

    Anyway the second time I was booked for Heidi in Balham (having to write all this so I can repeat the phrase Heidi in Balham enough for my search engine optimisation plug-in to know that I’m writing about Heidi in Balham after visiting Heidi in Balham), I had to cancel again as I had gained some accomplices who didn’t want to go south of the river.

    SEO plug-in telling me I've done a great job

    This Sunday, I had no accomplices. I was solo dining. And on call for work which has delightfully been like free money this time, instead of destroying my sanity and sleeping patterns.

    I went to Heidi in Balham

    I’ve been following Cattegrid on Twitter for a while and last year he asked if I’d been to Hannah in Battersea, which was one of the establishments that he runs, most of them I assume named after his ex-wives – Hannah, Heidi, Betty, The Charlotte and, erm, Cattle Grid.

    He seems an opinionated nobhead, and I like to think that I’m an opinionated nobhead. Quite a few of my good friends are opinionated nobheads also…Brexiters, anti-vaxxers, scaffolders, drug dealers – you name it, I’m friends with them. So with my approval of his occasionally disagreeable output, I added Hannah to the to-do list. And ended up going to Heidi. In Balham. In…

    THE ROAST TRIANGLE OF DOOM.

    Map of the Roast Triangle Of Doom

    Speaking of nobheads, well…total cunts, when I finally made it onto the Metropolitan line, I headed towards a bank of 4 chairs to sit down, diagonally opposite a sullen young woman with her feet on both chairs.

    She aggressively informed me that the chairs were for her feet. I replied, “OK, cool” though I’m sure that my rolling eyes gave away my feelings. If only they had taught me “who the fuck do you think you are” in Latin at school. Yeah we didn’t get taught Latin in Hull.

    In a different mood I might have stayed sat there next to her feet but she looked kind of threatening, I had no idea if any of the people around were her mates and I had my work laptop with me so I just took myself out of the situation. An inauspicious start to the journey.

    Plus I was proper hungry.

    Hiya

    I arrived at Heidi in Balham – well, I didn’t actually know I had arrived as there seemed to be no signage on the outside to suggest what the venue was called or even what they did. And then I had to squeeze past the tables and chairs that blocked the entrance – was it even open? Was it actually Heidi?

    It was, but I was their only customer. Inauspicious once more.

    I was given the choice of any seating area, unlike on the tube earlier. At first I chose a high table with stools, hidden around the corner, but realising that I’d be eating with my arms level with my shoulders, I relocated to these strangely thin benches near the front of the bar, but as I had nobody to sit opposite to, that wasn’t an issue.

    I feel like whoever chose the furniture didn’t really consider the idea of people eating there – but I’ve had worse, Quality Chop House looking at you and your tiny squeezed benches that only a quarter of my backside could fit on. It was definitely more set up for drinking and being social, than eating alone and being miserable.

    Heidi In Balham, interior

    Apart from the seating, I liked the feel of the place, I could imagine it as a rather buzzy bar in the evening and perhaps it would come into its own more in the winter.

    I also liked the look of the menu – away from roast dinners they do a tasty looking brunch menu on Saturday day, a tapas kind of thing at other times, the drinks were cheap – £6.66 if a champagne cocktail is your kind of thing, but even a pint was only £5.50.

    And the roasts were cheap too (with apologies to anyone up north reading) – £17 for sirloin of beef, £15.00 for pork belly or corned chicken breast – which I took to mean corn-fed.

    Heidi In Balham, roast dinner menu

    Annoyingly I didn’t read the sides until long after ordering, as the cauliflower gratin would normally have tempted me.

    Hi-di-hi

    I chose the chicken as I’m once again vaguely attempting to become a bit less rotund and a bit less totally unsexy – and even had an apple juice instead of beer. My dinner took around 20 minutes to arrive, whilst I was reading about the boom in fintech investment amongst other exciting topics – behold the return of the rectangular plate.

    Heidi In Balham, roast dinner

    Starting with the carrot which had been sliced vertically in half, perfectly roasted with hints of pepper and aniseed – though I wasn’t sure if the latter flavour was perhaps from the creamed cabbage.

    The menu suggested creamed leeks, with separate Savoy cabbage, but I didn’t detect any leek and did have creamed cabbage. Which was excellent – the cream was really tasty, as I mentioned I thought something had a slight aniseed taste which could have been this or the carrots – either way, the vegetables were very good.

    The menu also suggested parsnips, but they were nowhere to be seen.

    Three roast potatoes were supplied, all clearly tasting beautiful from the duck fat, fairly soft inside – though also soft on the outside – not crispy.

    Heidi In Balham, Sunday roast

    The Yorkshire pudding was good, crispy edges and a soft bottom – it felt reasonably freshly cooked too.

    I think the chicken breast was a tad made earlier, and was smaller than ideal. Yet it was quite heavily herbed, roasted nicely, the skin was really crispy and salty (in a good way) and the chicken itself packed loads of flavour.

    And finally, cum liquamine superfudit. Which apparently means gravy in Latin – though whether they actually had gravy back when normal humans spoke Latin is another matter. It was quite thick, a standard I appreciated with hints of bone marrow flavour – and improved an already very good roast dinner.

    Because I got high

    Yes, another very good roast dinner. What is happening?

    In a parallel universe the NUM (National Union of Miners for those under 40 years old) is still in charge of the country and the nationalised pea factory that I work at provides me with enough peas to cook over my coal-fired cooker as we say grace to life-long leader, Arthur Scargill, and thank him for his work, not only in deposing Margaret Thatcher but, more importantly, bringing us a much hotter climate to the UK. Albeit everything is covered in soot until the floods happen – but that doesn’t matter as we only live until 50 year’s old. Heil Scargill.

    Yet in reality I live a modern life and can use this new-fangled thing called a search engine to find out what the Latin is for “fuck off Boris Johnson”. Which is apparently, Fortuna off Marcus Cicero. Oh yeah, and I’m having very good roast dinners every week…I don’t even need some sickening capitalist carnivore to tell me where to go.

    And you can definitely go here. I’m going to have to be a bit more careful in my drawing of the Roast Triangle Of Doom in future as this cuts off another chunk of it.

    My only real complaint is that it did feel a bit lacking in quantity. There were no parsnips as advertised, the chicken was rather small and I was still hungry afterwards. Of course, had I taken notice of the sides, this may not have been the case – but I was eager to order. Upselling possibility missed?

    True that the roast potatoes weren’t crispy but they were good, and the chicken was a tad cooked earlier – but it was still really flavoursome.

    I think my favourite part of the meal was the creamed cabbage, which was super tasty, but the gravy was also pretty much spot on in terms of flavour and consistency.

    Because I said bye

    I’m scoring it an impressive 8.05 out of 10.

    Why was it so quiet though? For the very good roast dinner I had, I’m surprised that I was the only one there. Don’t get me wrong, I do want to be pushing hidden gems to you all, and this fits the bill. Hopefully it is busier during the week or on Saturday for brunch – I guess if you do no research on your Sunday roasts then you just go to your local pub – and Heidi ain’t a pub.

    But it doesn’t exactly sell itself. It doesn’t announce itself – if you are passing in the street you would be unsure whether they are open, let alone sell a Sunday roast, and it being right opposite Balham station there is surely passing trade to attract.

    And when was the last time they posted about their roast dinner on Twitter? 12th March. It wasn’t even open then!

    It feels like they are really missing an opportunity here. Anyway, hopefully my positive review will go a little way to helping.

    Dominus Gravy will be back with another review next week, and I’m going somewhere with a very good reputation. Could it be 5 very good/excellent roast dinners in a row? Or am I setting myself up for a fall? Not sure I can take all this excellent and I’m craving writing a scathing.

    I’m also dining with a colleague this coming Sunday…yes I’m actually seeing someone I work with face to face. But the office is still far too dangerous to visit, obviously.

    The post Heidi, Balham appeared first on Roast Dinners In London.

  • The Fox & Pheasant, Chelsea

    Published 4 August 2021, 5:27 pm

  • Being the roast dinner venue a week after visiting Blacklock isn’t easy. This time it fell to The Fox & Pheasant in Chelsea.

    Yes, I went to Blacklock last week. Didn’t you know? No, because very few of you read it. I get why I get less readers when I go somewhere obscure like Clapham – but Blacklock should be my most read post?

    Nope.

    Anyway, the last time I went to Blacklock in 2019, the Sunday after I had a roast on a boat, namely the Tattershall Castle. A bit like when Boris Johnson announces yet another baby is on the way, I just don’t need to say anything.

    Tattershall Castle roast dinner from 2019

    I will though, because it was shite. I went from heaven at Blacklock one Sunday, to this dirge of a dinner the Sunday after.

    So although I was pretty hopeful for The Fox & Pheasant, I knew that I would be comparing it to Blacklock – it falls in the shadow of the near-heaven of Blacklock last Sunday.

    Hope he realises that he’s going to need a better paying job than this…

    Boris Johnson on Chinese New Year
    And how much do I owe you in child maintainence?

    Foxy Lady

    Have you been watching the Olympics? No, me either. But I do feel like most Sundays I am taking part in some form of Olympian challenge – this being roast number 170 I wonder how many more I have to review before I get the respect that the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Dwain Chambers enjoy.

    Perhaps you might see Lord Gravy shortlisted for BBC Sports Personality Of The Year. You would vote for me, right? Might need to brush up on my left-wing credentials as the BBC only feature woke lefties such as…who’s that guy who’s been on BBC Question Time more than anyone else? You know, the one who recently encouraged lots of people to donate to the RNLI to help save refugees in the English Channel. Forgot his name.

    Oh well, but I’m a huge fan of Groucho Marx, I’ve read all his books – if that isn’t me proving my left-wing credentials, I don’t know what is. As he once said, “politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies”. Oh, Nigel Farage, that’s who I was on about.

    Oh yeah and guess who’s office is very near the GB News studios?

    Yep. Another excuse to keep working from home.

    Anyway, so this Sunday wasn’t much of an Olympic journey. Piccadilly Line to Earl’s Court, a stop off in a totally empty pub called The Bolton on the way, who specialise in Dutch beer and food.

    Dutch beer at The Bolton

    Cheers. Though quite typical of me to pick the one that cost £7.90 a pint. Which if inflation keeps ticking up might seem cheap in a couple of years, but obviously as I am left-wing now so you will vote for me for BBC Sports Personality Of The Year, all the Quantitative Easing that the central banks have been doing over the last year will have no effect and inflation is just your imagination. EVERYTHING IS FINE, KEEP ON PRINTING.

    Where the fox that

    The Fox & Pheasant is down a side street just off the main road, with a barrier to keep the riff-raff out but I made it through a ha ha ha ha ha.

    Inside is a super gorgeous and well-maintained pub. I’d previously tried to book here but with no luck as it seems to often be fully booked in advance – this week they had one table left when I attempted to book. In the middle of the pub they have this kind of ornate wooden structure which looks about a century old, which is the middle bar, kind of splitting the pub.

    It is quite the gorgeous pub, replete with some posh totty, probably some handsome chaps and definitely at least one supremely coiffured hound.

    The Fox & Pheasant, Chelsea, Roast Dinner menu

    But looks aren’t everything, thankfully – otherwise I’d be in prison. On the menu was beef sirloin, pork belly, whole chicken (with stuffing) to share and some vegetarian thing. Yeah, I mentioned the vegetarian option.

    Give the state of my hangover, pork belly really was the only option for me – I was definitely not capable of cutting a chicken.

    The Fox & Pheasant, Chelsea, nibbles

    Our dinners took around 30 minutes or so to arrive, though we were given some little munchie things with some red hummus, which was a nice touch.

    The Fox & Pheasant, Chelsea, Sunday roast

    Fox News Presents

    Starting with the loosely mashed (or crushed as the menu states) carrot and swede mix. Not only did this make a great change from ordinary carrots, but both the carrot and swede worked well together, along with a hint of butter, and both were soft enough yet not to the mushy stage. This worked really well.

    Next up at first perturbed me, as I moved my pork belly to the side of the plate, I noticed all this white cream underneath it – my first reaction was, urgh, forced condiments.

    But it was actually parsnip puree, which was really creamy, a little smoky and quite simply gorgeous.

    I always feel that green beans are rather ordinary, and difficult to get excited about – yet the green beans at The Fox & Pheasant were pretty much perfect in terms of texture, and with a combination of the parsnip puree and the gravy to dip into, ended up being superbly enjoyable.

    Gosh, all these superlatives (nearly wrote laxatives…I am particularly hanging out of my backside write now) – but surely the roast potatoes will be crap?

    Nope. The roast potatoes could have been crispier on the outside, and could have been softer on the inside yet they were actually good. Freshly cooked and much better than most I’m served.

    The miracles even extended to me taking a really good photograph:

    The Fox & Pheasant, Chelsea, Roast Dinner

    Foxtrot Oscar

    Guess what? The Yorkshire pudding wasn’t burnt. It had been freshly made. Crispy on the edges, soft on the bottom – I think this is the best Yorkshire pudding of the year so far.

    I feel like I’ve reached some kind of giddy heights on like a marathon over a mountain with all this joyous praise – no I haven’t watched any of the Olympics – not even the Spanish women’s hockey team. Holy shit, they are playing Great Britain today at lunchtime. Well, it will be past tense by time you read this. It is now past tense and I remembered in time to see the final penalty thing in the shoot-out…which, incidentally, Great Britain won.

    Spanish women's hockey team

    The pork belly was very good. I’ve had better – you know where it is totally joyous when the crackling and fat meld together to give that sexy, crunchy yet gooey perfection? Well, it didn’t quite happen here in the greatest way – just part way. But the pork was nicely cooked, the crackling was mostly crunchy, the flavour was very good – I certainly enjoyed it more than the beef at Blacklock last Sunday.

    Finally, the gravy. Not the largest amount ever, but more was forthcoming on request, and it was proper northern homemade gravy. None of this southern wanky jus – despite the fact I was having a roast dinner in Chelsea. Yeah – even the gravy was really, really good.

    I know what you are thinking.

    I am the fox

    And yes, it was better than Blacklock. Blacklock in Soho, anyway.

    Everything was at least very good. Individually I’ve had better roast potatoes, I’ve had better pork belly, I’ve had better gravy – even this year. Yet with everything together, I’ve not had a better roast dinner this year.

    This worked, it worked really well together and this is the standard that pubs should be aiming for. In particular I was a big fan of the smoky parsnip puree, the soft yorkie, the majority of the crackling.

    When being a pedant, then yes, the roast potatoes were still a fair bit away from perfection, the pork belly just didn’t quite reach magical stages…look…I’m being too picky. Put The Fox & Pheasant on your to-do list. Now.

    Service was really good too – when we informed our waitress that I’d been to 170 different places for a roast dinner, she informed me that she’d been to 1. And when the roast dinner is this good, why would you need to go somewhere different every week? Well…I do…but I’m on an Olympic mission for you all.

    Two accomplices scored it an 8.00 each (they’ve only accompanied me on two other roasts which were both excellent…so they need to come to a crap roast), my regular accomplice scored it an 8.50. I’m scoring it a whopping 8.75 out of 10. Which makes it the 4th best roast dinner in London at the time of writing. Out of 170. Have I told you how many I’ve done?

    Afterwards it was back to the earlier pub to sit outside, watch middle class street drinkers, old men in sequin hats and mostly drivers with a complete inability to drive – how we didn’t see a car crash I have no idea. Why anyone would drive in London when they can just get the Metropolitan line…oh yeah.

    I’ll be back next week. Possible solo dining. Possible sober dining. Also on call. Surely I won’t have a 3rd excellent roast dinner in a row?

    The post The Fox & Pheasant, Chelsea appeared first on Roast Dinners In London.

  • Blacklock, Soho

    Published 29 July 2021, 5:36 pm

  • This Sunday I went to Blacklock in Soho. Wait…but I’ve reviewed Blacklock already?

    Hull…we have a problem.

    News story about pensioner who pleasures himself near horses

    No, not that kind of problem. During lockdown, my parents had one of those Blacklock at Home roast dinner kits, and were totally enthralled by it – as they should have been. My Dad even refused to eat beef for some time afterwards (well…at least a week) because he knew that he would just compare it to Blacklock.

    And then they said, “when lockdown is over, we’ll get the train to London and you can take us to Blacklock”. Erm…this isn’t how Roast Dinner Club works.

    We select from the to-do list, we select by random number generator and we don’t go to the same place twice. I’ve already reviewed Blacklock.

    But remembering the disappointment that my mother had when the British Transport Police called her when I was 13, I couldn’t really resist. And I had previously reviewed the one in Shoreditch – so I could feasibly review Blacklock in Soho also. Right?

    My blog. My rules. And rules are there to be broken. Oh the joyous freedom of not wearing a mask when I go for a wee in a pub.

    Let’s talk about roasts, baby

    Yes it was the annual check-up by my parents to make sure that I haven’t enquired any more drug habits since the previous year, and to enquire about the possibility of grandchildren. Alas, the beauty that they see in their son is not shared by those on Spanish Tinder.

    Maybe they could think of this blog as a child? I do wake up early in the morning, to feed it some words. I work hard all week to be able to provide for it on a Sunday…I mean…how could you review a restaurant without actually paying for a meal?

    And I have all kinds of logistic issues to overcome that are even more difficult than opening a condom wrapper for the first time. This week, the Metropolitan line didn’t start working until midday – which made my 1pm booking at Blacklock in Soho a tad squeaky bum ish.

    But a tube train did turn up after around 15-20 minutes wait, and I excitedly announced in the family WhatsApp group that I might actually be on time. Of course, the driver shortly after announced that there was a problem with the signals. That felt proper peak 2019.

    Mirror in Blacklock, Soho

    You know, I came up with a bit of a genius idea when I was inside Blacklock. Blacklock Singles Night. Because why would you want to date someone that doesn’t love Blacklock? Would also give you some security that that you wouldn’t end up dating someone that might turn vegan…or worse…try to turn you into a vegan.

    Speaking of vegans, my manager said he looked forward to reading my blog after my one to one on Monday…yes both my parents and VEGAN boss are aware of this blog…yes my parents still love me and yes I still have a job…have you tried employing software engineers in this market? I could probably start a blog about Nazis and still wouldn’t get sacked because somehow I’m actually quite good at writing code.

    Speaking of work, I was a bit bored on Friday morning, and made this:

    Genius, or what? Well, I thought I was hilarious anyway. If my boss is actually reading and I assume that this celebration of meat-eating means you are not, thank you in advance for my coming pay rise this autumn.

    Let’s talk about you and meat

    Ahhh Blacklock. It’s a bit like coming home really…or maybe best said as a homecoming as I do not want that bloody Atomic Kitten song back in my head.

    This was my first trip to the Soho enterprise, which my Dad informed me used to be a brothel. How does he know?

    Blacklock in Soho is pretty much as I imagined – stripped back brick walls painted faint white, some wood panelling, classic wooden tables and chairs (albeit mine was a tad wonky) and some chalkboards advertising their wares…oh crap, just remembered that not using the word blackboard makes me a Marxist now….I’ll let my life-sized cardboard cut-out of Margaret Thatcher know.

    And the menu was just as I remembered, except they don’t seem to have put their prices up. £18.00 for the best roast dinner in London? In central London? In Soho?

    Sure, it was necessary to also add cauliflower cheese but even the sides are only £4.00. Can they not just put their prices up to fund a Blacklock in Hull to solve my parental visit problem? Hull is where my parents live, just in case you haven’t worked it out. Yes I escaped at 18 thanks to Tony Blair allowing any thick, lazy, drunken arsehole like me to attend university and get loads of free money in loans. Maths Studies. A ha ha ha ha what a load of crap. Yeah I failed. Blame Howard Marks. No, not the co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management.

    Howard Marks - Spliff Politics

    Onto the menu…gosh my Dad will actually read this – I was just trying to fit in with the cool kids at university that wanted to be fund managers, I didn’t really inhale.

    So I quite fancied the lamb, as I just don’t quite enjoy beef rump as much as other cuts of beef – but listening to my parents eulogising over the beef, remembering the gorgeous beef in the at home box, and then asking the waiter for his favourite, which was the beef – I didn’t quite have the mental strength to stick with my original thoughts. I inhaled and went for the beef. Fucking peer pressure.

    Let’s talk about all the gravy

    Our meals arrived really quite quickly, it seemed like only around 10 minutes from taking our order – but I wasn’t counting. Perhaps my double hangover and time spent on a slow tube train meant everything else seemed faster than reality.

    And, of course, my photography in a somewhat dimly lit basement isn’t going to be good.

    Blacklock, Soho, Roast dinner

    Can you work out what the vegetables are just from my photography? Probably not but if you guessed carrots, you were correct. And the flavour of the carrots was brought out beautifully, roasted softly with a hint of charring, replete with tons of herbs.

    Hang on – my sister takes better photographs than I do. She’s still single FYI.

    Blacklock, Soho, Roast dinner - decent photograph

    They don’t look like carrots now though, do they? But they really tasted like them. Let’s move on before you conclude that I’m still a thick, lazy, drunken arsehole. The first person I met at university apparently said, “if they are all like him I’m quitting university”.

    I thought the cabbage was a little too tough, and it was quite like a chore to eat it – yet at the same time the smoky flavour was enjoyable, so I’m a bit pulled in both directions here.

    And the bad jus

    As I mentioned earlier, we paid £4.00 extra for the pots of cauliflower cheese and they were worth every penny. The stickiness of the sauce was spot on as there was no gravy pollution, the cheesiness was high, and the crispness on top gave that texture you desire. But maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t to the levels of superb that I remember the cauliflower cheese being from the Blacklock At Home box.

    Blacklock, Soho, Sunday roast

    Going back to my photographs because, well, I put in at least two minutes of effort to take them.

    The roast potatoes were close to perfection – maybe you could argue that they were even a tad too crispy if you were really, really fucking pedantic (erm…), but these three irregular polyhedrons of crispness were pure sexual joy.

    Alas, you didn’t need to be a pedant to conclude that the Yorkshire pudding was too crispy – too crispy and somewhat burnt tasting too. That said, it was edible, the gravy softened the bottom somewhat and it wasn’t too far down the path of disappointment. But I think that is the first time I can say that something at/from Blacklock disappointed.

    The beef rump was good – rare – too rare for my mother who kept off-loading some onto me, a good reason for me to have chosen lamb or pork in the first place. But also, it wasn’t as tender as the beef on the at home box, nor as tasty. Though I enjoyed it – I definitely should have ordered lamb, or pork.

    Ooooh, this isn’t going to number one, is it? Of course, one major problem are my expectations from the previously exceptional standards of both my prior visit and the at home box – and again, I felt that the gravy didn’t quite meet previous standards.

    It was still excellent, but just didn’t quite have the same level of flavour as before (like I can fucking remember Friday night let alone two years ago) but just feel that it wasn’t quite as superb. I stress again though that this is still a very high standard – if I had gravy as thick and tasty as this every week, well, there would be no need for this blog. This is still very good gravy.

    That we eat

    I was a little worried before I went to Blacklock in Soho that I’d end up with the same restaurant at number one, and number two.

    Now I’m a little worried that I’m slightly dissing the boss of roast dinners in London. Will I still be taken seriously if I rate Blacklock in Soho as 10th best or something? Was it me? Was the roast dinner actually amazing and I was just off form? Maybe my hangover and tiredness, or the beauty of the Michelin Star meal the night before took the shine off my taste buds?

    If I compare to Blacklock in Shoreditch (2019 visit) or the Blacklock At Home, then I’m almost a tiny bit disappointed – because expectations are that high. But if I compare to anywhere else this year, all the very average roast dinners with dreadful roast potatoes then, of course, I’m delighted.

    Let’s get this straight. Gravy was excellent, roast potatoes were sex, cauliflower cheese was top notch and the carrots had their flavour brought out so, so well. Oh, and the service – well, actually it did feel a little rushed – we’d finished eating within an hour of sitting down, and within a few minutes of finishing they were already offering dessert.

    I do think one of the people serving us was a little shy and inexperienced, but the other two were absolute gentlemen and really had that Blacklock pizazz about them that you expect – one even went to the local Sam Smith’s pub to get my dad a pint of bitter. Now that is wow service.

    Oh and the cheesecake…

    Blacklock, Soho, Cheesecake

    Absolutely amazingly gorgeous still.

    Do you want to see a nipple?

    Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about Blacklock.

    A nipple

    Yes, apparently that is a nipple.

    I probably won’t have a better roast dinner this year…but I could. We probably won’t ever have a better Prime Minister than Margaret Thatcher…but we could. I know the chances are that you are not keen on Margaret Thatcher (perils of a London blog)…but she might have been a tad more interested in following the science…a bit more interested in data than slogans? OK I give up, but I still have a cardboard cut-out of her and if you have any intention of sleeping with me then you’ll need to get used to that.

    There’s lots to love about Blacklock – this roast dinner was mostly excellent, the whole experience was mostly excellent and we even got a super close flash of lightning and crack of thunder when we left – and I love a thunderstorm almost as much as a roast dinner.

    I’m scoring it an 8.48 out of 10. Which still makes it the 11th best roast dinner in London.

    Scores from my parents were 8.70 and 8.80, score from my sister who accompanies me for most roast dinners was 8.50.

    Not sure where I’m going this Sunday as there is some confusion being caused by guests and their location demands. But there will be a roast. Alas, it won’t be Blacklock as it really is now fully reviewed.

    Or is it?

    Blacklock review on Google - with suggestion of opening in New York.

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