The Abbeville, Clapham

Surprisingly until this week, I had never reviewed a roast dinner in yummy-mummy heaven, Clapham.

My guests this week had a requirement to be near the A3 and somewhere with parking – Clapham fit the bill perfectly and there were several venues on my to-do list. They chose The Abbeville, on Abbeville Road – a perfect example of upper-middle class white suburbia (I’ve got black friends, ok?) – all semi-posh delicatessen land, newly polished paintwork and all the ya ya chi chi oh how wonderful darling, that you could possibly ever want.

I have been to Clapham before. They have a giant overpriced silent disco on Clapham Common every August bank holiday – albeit without the headphones. I think they call it SW4. It definitely wasn’t chi chi.

Clapham is the kind of dull but exceptionally nice place that your wife might force you to move to when she becomes pregnant. Well, you wouldn’t want your kids growing up in Hackney, would you?

And guess what? No, I’m not pregnant. But my guests brought their 3 year old grandson.

I do not understand children. I get scared and don’t know what to do with them. Do I talk about politics? Dinosaurs as per the kind suggestion on my Facebook page? Or do I make animal noises like I do at work? Upon my arrival, he looked at me with the kind of suspicion that I normally reserve for somebody suggesting that I go to a Toby Carvery for a ‘great roast’. I stared back at him with measured scorn and pulled a face, similar as to what I do at work when someone asks me to change what I’ve spent hours coding.

It seemed like a good start.

The options on the menu were pork belly, beef topside and chicken. I had seen the pork belly go past and it looked awesome. Alas, I had eaten pork last Sunday so it was time for something different – I went for the beef.

There was and still is no Sunday menu on their website – though given the popularity of what was a busy pub, they clearly had no need to advertise their Sunday offerings. The pub is small and cosy (in estate agent speak) – difficult to get around at times with very limited space to get through near the bar – perhaps just too popular.  Or just too small.

It being middle class Clapham, I was expecting roast dinner pricing to be around the £18 to £20 mark. Sorry, I mean upper-middle. Yet beef was only £15.00, pork and chicken were £14.50 each – though didn’t come with a Yorkshire pudding, which could be purchased for £1.50 extra.

Dinner took quite a while to arrive, maybe 30 or so minutes, and I was gently practising my face-pulling techniques during the wait – moving onto the sticking my tongue out at the young child phase of entertaining.

The practice came in handy. Can you see la problema? FFS Temper all over again – who still haven’t bothered replying to my tweet, and I have a whole long e-mail complaint ready to send to them about the things missing in my life, such as blow jobs and Margaret Thatcher.

No fucking roast potatoes again. My accomplices had roast potatoes with their chicken roasts, so I wondered if maybe beef roasts didn’t come with roast potatoes. When I eventually grabbed someone’s attention (not easy), he took the plate away and swiftly came back.

Much better. Very much better.

Difficult to know where to start with this one as there was so much food on the plate.

Carrots. Oh glorified sticks of orangeness. These were sliced vertically in half, and roasted. Sweeter than usual, with a hint of honey to them. Good quality carrots, though I personally would have roasted them a bit longer – horses for courses. And we practiced our horse noises – perhaps I shouldn’t be too surprised but we were on the same level. My horse noises were far more realistic though – since when does a horse go ‘neigh’?

You could definitely argue that the parsnips needing roasting for longer. Whilst still easily edible, and with the mixture of nutty and sweet that you’d expect, they were just a bit too al dente. I always find that roasting them longer brings out the flavours more. Good but a way off parsnip perfection.

There was a tiny bit of broccoli. Little I can say about it, though it tasted superb with the gravy.

Also tasting excellent was the kale. It has quickly become a favourite vegetable of mine, and the tastiest of the tasty vegetables on offer. A sprinkling more than a pile, it again matched the gravy most suitably.

Finally there were some tough stick things. One of my few childhood memories that doesn’t involve burning or destroying things, was looking through bushes to find stick insects. I never found any. Do the actually exist? I ate these celeriac stick things, but they were tough and only vaguely more appealing than eating stick insects – fairly tasteless and I could have easily left them to the side were it not for my psychological requirements.

Not only had my missing roast potatoes been salvaged, but I had extra. My accomplices had what would be a reasonable 4 – yet I had 6. 6 glorious roast potatoes. And you know what? They were actually roasted. Some were superbly crispy. They were nice enough inside, though did have a little bit, I stress the little, of a “cooked earlier” feel about them. Pleasingly with a hint of thyme on the outside. Very, very good roast potatoes – and just how often do I moan about roast potatoes? Just not quite potato perfection.

Crispy roast potatoes and this child is not screaming at me?

The Yorkshire pudding was approvingly massive. Perhaps too much so as it was a little brittle and overly crispy near the top – but bravo on the size. Impressive. Soft enough on the bottom to make a good accompaniment to the meat.

The thinly-sliced beef itself was good. If you squint and use colour-blind glasses, you can just about see a hint of pink – medium would be a generous description. That said, it was a decent quality piece of topside. Topside can be a bit naff on occasion, but this was succulent if not overly exciting. The pork belly looked awesome – the chicken looked unremarkable.

We even had very good gravy. Quite a complex taste, perhaps a touch of red wine – don’t ask me what else. There was a decent enough amount on the plate for a rugby union poofter, but for those of us who appreciate proper try-scoring forms of egg-chasing, more was required. It also had a pretty damn good consistency too – not cement, but what you union softies would call ‘thick’.

And then it was time to play cars!

One of my accomplices also had an added extra to her plate – some grease-proof paper. Sadly it put her off eating the rest of her dinner – I wouldn’t have cared. I once had an opened paper clip inside a bacon and egg sandwich, which I still consumed. Once I had taken the egg out – which was the only reason I found the paper clip.

I had a bit of a FOMO moment and ordered the apple crumble for dessert, once I had eventually gained the attention of a member of staff, which was increasingly difficult to achieve. Cooked in a small pot with the crumble being burnt – and generally lacking in flavour. Very disappointing. If I were doing a London Crumbles blog then it would get a 3 out of 10 at best. I was fairly unamused by myself.

Thankfully for The Abbeville, this is a roast dinner blog and their roast dinner was very good.

In terms of portion size it was exceptionally good – twice as much as some wankier and more expensive places would offer. Much of the dinner was very good or excellent, though it certainly wasn’t unimprovable, albeit some of what I thought are mild aberrations would be to other’s liking. Kudos on the roasties and the gravy, in particular.

Alas there was another one of those “optional” fucking anti-service charges on there. I guess around 12.5%. It was tippable, but by no means was a service charge appropriate. As I have mentioned, it was difficult to get the attention of staff – not their fault as they were running around. They did at least give my accomplice a free roast for her added surprise, and sort out extra roasties on my plate for their initial lapse.

The roast wasn’t perfect nor was it a perfect experience. But I wholeheartedly recommend it – especially if you like large portion sizes. I’m giving it a very healthy 8.16 out of 10 – which makes it it the 5th best roast dinner from the 34 I’ve reviewed so far.

I’ll be back in Clapham before too long I suspect.

On the way out, I offered my very young accomplice a handshake. He refused.

He wanted a hug instead. I have a new friend. Though if any attractive South American ladies are reading – don’t get any ideas.

Next Sunday I’m away – like somewhere other than London. I’ll be back the Sunday after and I will most definitely be going somewhere cheap.

Oblix @ The Shard, London Bridge

Because I got high, because I got high, because I got high.

La la la la la la.



But not that kind of high – I cannot afford even crappy Colombian style cocaine nowadays, let alone the proper Peruvian stuff. Though nor can I afford fine dining. Like my imaginary girlfriend and her addiction to buying shoes that she cannot afford, logic doesn’t necessarily dictate purchasing and I was clearly due a treat, as it was at least 2 days since I had treat myself. Treated or treat?

Oblix in The Shard, was going to be my treat. And by some way the most expensive dinner that I have ever had, let alone most expensive roast dinner.

I am a bit worried that being the tight and perennially skint northern twatt that I am, that this review could bang on about money a lot. I will try to concentrate on my small penis size and predilection for Spanish lesbians more.

I booked this some weeks ago at the behest of a very good friend who was very keen to visit. Alas, 3 days before he cancelled on me – tax bill. Kind of fitting. There were no shortage of people wanting to be taken up the shard, and in the end a table for 4 people was awaiting us. Yeah, ‘up the shard’. I know, the novelty of my humour is killing me too.

Upon entering striking office building called The Shard, you go through security – you’ll easily be able to smuggle drugs in, just put them in your bra. If you are a man, then wear a bra. Nobody will suspect. They are just looking for weapons.

32 floors up, for what was planned to be the 32nd roast dinner for £32 with at least one 32 year old – alas, I miscounted and it is the 33rd roast dinner. Meh. Small penis.

One thing of note, although not exceptionally upmarket (they let me in for fuck’s sake), shoes are generally expected – I didn’t even risk wearing my imaginary girlfriend’s smart trainers. I even had a wash beforehand. And, of course, trimmed my eyebrows.

We arrived into a dimly lit corridor, and were greeted by smartly presented and effusive staff, who seemed genuinely keen to show us to our table. Walking through the kitchen which is split in half, with sizeable displays of meat, just adds to the level of expectations.

For £32, one had high expectations – and not every review on Trip Advisor was glowing – some were positively disappointed. Small nob.

Though it wasn’t just £32. £32 gets you your meat, roast potatoes and one Yorkshire pudding. If you want vegetables then you have to order those separately. Tiny penis.

You could justify it by balancing out the £20 that it would cost you to go to the viewing platform – just like my imaginary Spanish girlfriend needs that 39th pair of shoes. The views, of course, were just spectacular – especially seeing as we had booked for late afternoon, so we knew we’d see a sunset.

All the meats on the menu sounded like they were out of a non lesbian-orientated dream, whether that be the duck, chicken, beef, lamb or pork. The beef was yet another £7 on top – I chose the suckling pig, as did all of my compatriots. For the sides, I chose the broccoli dish for another £7 – one of my compatriots ordered new potatoes until it was pointed out to him very gently that to order new potatoes with a dinner that comes with roast potatoes was bloody odd.

So, £39 for a roast dinner. Very good, son.

I have no idea how long dinner took to arrive – at least until one of my compatriots went for a cigarette. I was just simply marvelling in the view, the company and the calm atmosphere. I would have been happy to have waited as long as it required.

Dinner was presented wonderfully, with the meat and its juices on the main plate, with side dishes of roast potatoes each, and a tray of small Yorkshire puddings to share.

I hesitated for a few moments. Were they going to bring some gravy over? Or at least some jus? I carried on waiting, but alas they didn’t. Unlike Temper’s forgetting of my roast potatoes, I expect this was on purpose. I did consider asking for some. I thought better of it as I was still surprised that I had been allowed entry.

Starting with the plentiful tenderstem broccoli. This was perfectly judged in terms of cooking length – with bite but without difficulty. The lemon and chilli profusion worked magnanimously – a simple combination, yet one I have never even thought of myself. Apparently with ‘preserved lemon’ – whatever that is…there can often be long-forgotten lemons ‘preserved’ in the bottom of my fridge.

Alas the roast potatoes were not very roasted. Smooth on the outside instead of crispy, and rather tough on the inside. I am sure that they would say al dente. Cast that aside, and they were unusually succulent, holding some hidden moisture and tasted fine.

The Yorkshire pudding was good. I cannot say that I was expecting a giant Yorkshire pudding in a fine dining establishment – nor would I have wanted one without gravy. Enough for 4 bites, a little more emphasis on the egg flavouring than normal, perfectly spongy and not even the tiniest bit burnt.

Onto the piece of resistance sans resistance. Three cylindrical parcels of quite simply amazing suckling pig. Topped with what appeared to be a tapenade yet tasted more of parsley, and a thin sliver of chilli. Literally every single bite was drool-worthy, and I am drooling right now as I write, especially given that I am just about to eat a ham and cheese sandwich on stale bread (I’m skint and refusing to spend any money on Ryanair).

There was almost too much of it. There could never be too much of it, but you could argue that. You could argue socialism would be of benefit. You could argue that I have a whopping donger.

No gravy or jus to report on, but the limited juices from the pork helped to add to the flavours throughout the meal.

Wow.

We topped it off with dessert. I had chocolate truffles which were unsurprisingly divine, on a bed of raw cacao. Which at first I thought was just decoration.

Service was exceptional. There was a 13.5% service charge, but this was service that deserved the entry of “service charge”. When I complain about service charges, it is that you have to pay a charge for them simply bringing a plate over.

From advice on the wine (an exceptionally extensive list), to being treated with utmost courteousy and respect, prompt handling, always being available yet never being overwhelming, and being exceptionally well presented. This was what service should be if you are going to add a service charge.

Altogether, the roast dinner, broccoli side, water, a share of two bottles of red wine, dessert and service charge came to £75.75. I could easily have spent much more were I not trying my hardest to restrain myself.

So, scores on the door? At least for those who didn’t scroll straight to the score and have read through my inane ramblings and attempts to write some form of credible critique.

This was never going to be the best roast dinner in London. No jus (I didn’t even vaguely expect gravy) and no crispy roast potatoes limit just how high I can rate it. The suckling pig was to die for, and the broccoli not far behind. Everything else about the experience was top notch, from the service, to the setting – the wine, the dessert. The magnificent view. The all-round sumptuous experience.

However, I am looking for the best roast dinner. I had a truly fabulous time and an exceptional experience that I will remember for years to come. But all factors outside of what are on the plate are only marginal considerations on scoring.

This blog is about finding the best roast dinner in London – and as sensational as the meat and broccoli were, this wasn’t enough to qualify it for best roast dinner.

It does still rate very highly, and I am giving it a 8.11 out of 10 for the roast dinner. I do wholeheartedly recommend the experience of eating at Oblix.

This coming Sunday I am heading to Clapham. My first ever roast dinner in Clapham and the first time I have been to the area since I last had a date. No I didn’t get the opportunity to go up her shard. By the way, does anyone else get slightly turned on by walking through a maze?

Nice toilet roll too.

Temper, Soho

Ahhh the Bank of Mum & Dad. To those of you down south, that likely means the people that paid the deposit on your house (oh, it’s a loan is it?). To those of us from up north, that means the occasional paid-for roast dinner. And I’d far rather have a bowl of delicious gravy than a whopping great big mortgage.

Thanks mum! Thanks dad! Yes my dad does read this. Yes he hasn’t disowned me – he knows most of the dodgy stuff is just an exaggerated lie to get followers. Obs.

Possibly could have disowned me when I was a miserable, rampaging dickhead of a teenager but alas, somehow I have turned out alright. I’d go so far to say that I am a very decent and very nice person. Yes I voted Tory – go live in Venezuela if you think socialism is all that great you fucking self-righteous tossbag. Oh but the right kind of socialism hasn’t be tried out yet? Oh please, spare me.

True outrage struck this week. No I am not talking about Jared O’Mara MP (except on Fridays as he is too hungover to be an MP, apparently). I love boobs, by the way. And gays. Gays are awesome. And yes, I love the Spanish. The real outrage this week was Time Out stepping onto MY territory with an article on roast dinners.

Did you see it?

They started with…you’ve guessed it. Hawksmoor. Yes, the picture they used included burnt Yorkshire puddings. And there was barely a plate’s worth of gravy between them all.

Clearly not written by a fat, ugly northerner like yours truly.

Not only was I outraged this week but I was also indecisive. Prior to the Bank of Mum & Dad making an appearance, priority was on finding something low budget – especially given just how much next Sunday is going to cost. Come Sunday morning, I still hadn’t booked anything, so had a look at the 10 places Time Out recommended. Alas, all fully booked.

I over-ruled the random number generator’s suggestion on several occasions before it picked Temper, in Soho – which was a recommendation given to me very recently. And it is Time Out’s number 3 restaurant in London. Quite an accolade, but receiving accolades from myself is far more of a challenge. It wasn’t far off fully booked either.

You enter at ground floor level, with a warm welcome from the hostess. We were quickly shown to our seats – the welcome was energetically effusive and added to the excitement.

The restaurant itself was in the basement – the kitchen was open plan and in the centre, so you can watch the manic activities of the chefs. Surrounding the kitchen is a counter, with bar-stool seats, with plenty of tables and booths surrounding this. It was lively, it was noisy, it was dark and it smelt beautiful.

There were two choices – picanha beef for £18, or smoked shoulder of lamb for £17. No vegetarian offer in terms of roast – this is a meat-lovers establishment. And I am a meat lover. I chose lamb – mainly because I had had beef last Sunday, but also because smoked lamb just sounded awesome.

It took around 20 minutes for dinner to arrive. I was a little surprised to see two portions of potato dauphinoise arrive, when I thought that I had seen roast potatoes not only advertised on the menu but also being cooked. I could be wrong. Though rarely am.

Starting with the vegetable offering and there was some controversy here too with half a large tomato. On a roast dinner. It wasn’t overly juicy – but that would have been problematic on a plate ‘full’ of gravy. Unusual but happily so. Gosh I cannot wait to tell you about the gravy.

Then there was some cabbage – I’m tempted to suggest hispi cabbage as it seemed just a touch sweeter than usual – and blended so well with the gravy, which I cannot wait to tell you about.

There were a couple of carrots – a tad on the tough side but not to the detriment of said orange sticks. They may have been chantenay carrots but it was far too dark to tell.

Finally on the vegetable offering, there was some kind of bright yellow thing. It tasted a little like pumpkin – one assumes it was some kind of squash. Again, it was a little on the tough side – I don’t think it added anything to the meal. For me, it was more miss than hit.

The biggest controversy was having potato dauphinoise instead of roast potatoes. Given how often I have to moan about unroasted roast potatoes, this could have been a clever substitution. In itself, it was an excellent dish – mixing small chunks of potato with glorious cream, and a hint of cheese on top.

Why were there two dishes between three people? Would two of us had to share one or would we have had one each? What if I had no friends, would I have had one whole dish to myself? These are questions that will never be answered satisfactorily, just like why the fuck did America vote for Donald Trump.

Would have preferred roast potatoes though.

The Yorkshire pudding was closer to average that good. They had all been pre-made and heated up, as you could clearly see. The outer rim was crispy and a tad burnt – the bum was soft and tasty. I’m starting to think burnt yorkies are the new unroasted roast potatoes. This was nothing special at all.

Specialness truly arrived in the form of meat. The lamb shoulder had beautifully slow-cooked – having the texture of pulled pork, and the burnt ends of it were just glorious. The smoked flavour was sensational, and by this point I was feeling pretty damn horny. Maybe there could have been a little bit more, but I’m probably only thinking this because it was so good.

And then we had the gravy. It wasn’t thick gravy. It was a smoked gravy – this could have gone wrong and ruined the whole meal. But this was perfect. The gravy was sexual. It counter-balanced any weaknesses elsewhere in the meal, made all of the vegetables sumptuous, and was just simply orgasmic. I haven’t had a better gravy in London. I’d go so far to say that it was one of the best gravies that I have ever had – and I have had a fair few in my life. A northern pedant – totally unlike me – might want something thicker. But occasionally you just need to shut up and enjoy the moment.

It was buying sex toys from Ann Summers kind of wow. Yes, you can call me sugar tits.

Given that I finished on the meat and the gravy, my first reaction was to make this roast dinner number one. I’ve calmed down now, and there were some imperfections.

Firstly, the it isn’t obligatory, honest, service charge of 12.5% tacked onto the end. The service was good, and in all likelihood, we would have left a similar-sized tip anyway. There was also a £1 charity charge. Is this a new thing? And then two charges for ‘charity water’. I appreciate that I am quibbling over £4 shared by 3 people, but this adding things to the bill thing is starting to get out of hand. Is there even any auditing of this? How do we know these ‘charity’ charges are all going to charity? How do we know the services charges go purely to the staff as additional earnings and are not just contributions to their wages?

Second, I have done some investigating and found that we should have received roast potatoes on our dinners. I said earlier that I thought I saw them being kept warm, and there is a tweet from just one week ago stating “ridiculous beef fat po…” (assuming they don’t mean po of Tellytubbies fame…maybe that was what the bright yellow thing was). And a bloody picture of them.

I WANT MY ROAST POTATOES BACK.

I cannot give top score for a roast dinner without roast potatoes, no matter how amazing the gravy was.

We shared a bottle of house red too, which was unspectacular – not a patch on the enjoyment of the Brewdog beer from around the corner – and we also had a starter of crab tacos, which were delicious. But neither booze nor starters count towards the score.

So I’m scoring it an 8.21 out of 10, which makes it my 5th best roast dinner in London at the time of writing. Improvements could be made, I am increasingly furious about being cheated out of 3 small roast potatoes. But the smoked lamb was divine – and you simply have to try their gravy. If you are a gravy fan – I am – then you must make a visit.

I really want to come back here. And not just for the 3 roast potatoes that I am owed. I must at some point find an excuse to go back.

Next week is the big one. The most expensive roast dinner so far. The most expensive roast dinner of my life. The most expensive dinner of my life?

It better be good.

And I will be getting high. Love you mum, love you dad.

Ye Olde Rose And Crown Theatre Pub, Walthamstow

Ahhh Sunday. A day of roast dinners and going to church.

Without the church bit. As you may have worked out if you are mentally stable enough to cope with reading my ramblings more than once, I am not the world’s most religious person.

Fair play if you are that way inclined, horses for courses and all that, but I have enough difficulty in believing that I am going to get a crispy roast potato on a Sunday. Have I just compared God to a roast potato? Shit. Last week lying, this week blasphemy. Next week cheating on my wife with two hot Greek lesbians. Yeah, Greek – you read. Not Spanish. You’ve got to change your fantasies occasionally.

Moving on before the lynch mob, headed by my imaginary Catholic Spanish girlfriend, sets upon me.

Walthamstow. I really want to put an ‘e’ on the end. Walthamstowe. Doesn’t that look posher?  Speaking of posh, I have just discovered who Georgia Toffolo is.  I wonder if she wants to go on a roast dinner date with me?  She’s a Tory apparently, which is why I discovered her.  I shall have to instagram her.  Apparently she is famous for promoting watches on Instagram.  Yes, sister, I will eventually get around to opening an Instagram account, no you are not going to be an auntie any time soon.

Anyway, Walthamstowie is supposedly the next Peckham, or the next Brixton. Yesterday was my first visit. It seemed closer to the next Bracknell than Brixton, but what do I know? I even still go out in Shoreditch, on occasion – that’s how uncool I am.

It didn’t scream life to me. It didn’t scream joy. In fact, Walthamstowia looked almost entirely joyless.  Almost entirely…

So, back to God. God’s Own Junkyard – for what is a visit to Walfordstow, home of Eastenders, without going to see a warehouse full of what Pat Butcher’s earrings would look like if vomited back to life in neon lights. This was equal heaven and hell – a joyous celebration, with a bar and some sexy looking cakes to boot.  I reckon Georgia would be up for a date here, if she is into fat, ugly Tories.

Question now is, would our roast dinner be heaven or hell?

The venue this week was Ye Olde Rose And Crown Theatre Pub. As you may work out from the name, they have a theatre upstairs, and a proper 1990’s pub downstairs, replete with odious 1990’s soft rock faintly playing in the background. And 1990’s prices on the roast dinners – for £9.99. Or was it £9.95? I would recommend that you check the website but there is next to no information on there.

The menu had three options, beef, lamb, chicken or nut roast. We were advised chicken had run out when we arrived. Upon ordering and our barmaid having disappeared into thin air, we eventually found out that the lamb had run out too. So there was no option but to order beef, and our barmaid disappeared completely again. Ordering did seem a little confused – I wasn’t entirely convinced that we would get a roast dinner, another table seemed to have been waiting some time for theirs – we waited 20 minutes which I am most happy about. I really do despise it when one’s roast dinner arrives immediately after ordering.

I settled down to drink my bargainous pint of Camden Pils at just £3.50. Seriously. In London, near a tube station. £3.50 for a decent pint – and it tasted good too. This was clearly a real 1990’s pub that we were in – I could even add an award-winning pub, having won Regional Community Pub Of The Year either this year, or last. Or possibly 1995, as it is definitely in some kind of timewarp.

Yes I am banging on about money again. Time to bang on about carrots.

Carrots were thin batons – the kind that you get in mixed packets of vegetables from supermarkets. As of themselves, they tasted like carrots.

Little more I can say either about the green beans or broccoli. Both nice and fresh, both boiled/steamed to an appropriate degree, and both acceptable.

However, these were not only made more exciting by the gravy – more on that later, but also by the creamed leeks. Leeks are a rare and most welcome treat in a pub roast, especially when a little bit more effort has gone into them. The cream was slightly sweeter than you’d expect, I’m still trying to work out what else may have accompanied it – perhaps a hint of nutmeg?

Unusually for someone who likes to eat in order, leaving the best until last, there were still a fair portion of vegetables left by time I started the meat. In my cryptic service-charge denying tosser kind of way, that is a compliment.

The roast potatoes were not crispy. Not even a vague attempt to make them so. However, they were well-cooked, especially considering their large size – that would be 6 small (very crispy) roast potatoes if I were in charge, they seemed to be a good quality potato – I’d guess Maris Pipers or King Edwards, and were pleasantly soft yet stable inside.

Yes this is also a long-standing fantasy. Actually it is my life. Yeah. Honest. Would I lie to you, gravy?

The Yorkshire pudding was on the verge of being burnt…how many times does that happen? Thankfully, it was just on the good side, nicely crispy and well-structured. Small, but good.

Sadly the beef was fairly average, though taken in context of the price of the roast, it wasn’t something to overly complain about. One slice closer to medium, the other closer to well-done – it was tough and a fraction chewy in places. Acceptable, there was nothing wrong with it – just bog-standard topside of beef.

Possibly the cow I had just eaten.

Now, I say that I am not religious, but when it comes to gravy, there is little I worship more. Pleasingly, this gravy was worshippable. A very nice, thick consistency – it is a rare event that gravy in London meets a northerner’s approval but I was roastingly happy with the gravy – for a second week in a row, not only in terms of consistency but also in terms of a very nice, homemade meat stock flavour. I came very close to drinking the remainder of the extra gravy out of the jug – had I been on a date with Georgia then I would have done so.

I enjoyed this. I certainly wasn’t over-awed by it and the beef was a little disappointing compared to the overall quality – and meat is pretty damn important (unless you like tofu and similar anti-food). On the plus side, most of it was good or very good, and I doubt that I will ever find a cheaper roast dinner within London. And probably not a cheaper pint of decent lager.

This gets a very respectable 7.48 out of 10. You hopefully don’t need advising that it is out of 10, but a friend of mine runs South Coast Roasts and rates them out of 25. WTF?

So onto next weekend. There might not be a roast dinner review. I know I keep saying this but I am almost out of budget – though if TFL oblige with enough 15 minute delays for me to reclaim some more journey fees – and they have been very obliging with their delays recently, then maybe I can scrape enough money together.

If not, then I’ll be back the Sunday after. And that is going to be the most expensive roast dinner that I have ever eaten. I might even put a pair of fucking shoes on. Hell, I might even buy some shoe polish. I did message them to ask if I could wear sequin hotpants.

But I don’t have any. Yet.

Don’t forget – follow me on Facebook and Twitter. And when I can be arsed to set it up, Instagram. Or possibly Insta0.7ofagram if the hooker I last shared a gram with is anything to go by.

Only joking. I’m a virgin. I only hired her to shave my back.  It gets a bit hairy as I’m a bit neanderthal.

I need to stop writing.  What the fuck have I even been going on about?

The Lighterman, King’s Cross

Mad Saddam ready to attack: 45 minutes from a chemical war.

Next Sunday I won’t be back in London until late afternoon so there might not be a roast dinner.

Two of the modern era’s greatest lies. I was on the way back from another great weekend in the UK’s City Of Culture, which is now such a popular and trendy place that ever posh southerners and slow-footed foreigners go there now. I was tired, I was hungover, I was semi-drunk and I wasn’t even vaguely hungry. I just wanted to go back home, stick on some slow-motion lesbian porn (I’m getting old) and drift off into a pleasant slumber, dreaming about swimming pools of gravy.

Instead, I had a family emergency to attend to – my sister was hungry. And I didn’t want her to become hangry. Which is a word – enough to make one ululate at the abuse of the English language.

I did say ‘might not’. Which is a bit like saying that I’m going to a festival but might not do any illicit substances. Are you ready for some action? Somebody scream!

A simple decision on location, my train was arriving into King’s Cross, and there was only one King’s Cross venue left on the list. The Lighterman. All ravers massiv stick yer lighters in the air. Do you wanna go faster?

Alas booking a table wasn’t so simple. The lady struggled with the idea that we wanted a table for three people, yet only two were eating. We nearly ended up with both a table for 5 people, and a table for 8 people, and also a table at a completely different time.

Anti-service was a bit of a pattern. It took a good 10 minutes before anyone came and took our drinks order, at which point we also placed our food order. Prices were on the expensive side – £18.50 for chicken, £19.50 for pork belly and a whopping £22.50 for beef. Yes, a beef roast dinner was more expensive than Hawksmoor. Hold tight.

As I wasn’t hungry but I am exceedingly fat, I ordered the pork belly.

The Lighterman appears to be a new building – replete with long glass windows, wooden features with the modern pub standard teal walls. There are several floors, all of which were busy when we went, on a warm, sunny October afternoon – with two sizeable seating areas outside too. We were seated on the ground floor, which was a tad too warm, and it was becoming apparent that it was also understaffed – we asked someone for our drinks order but he advised that he didn’t deal with drinks. Helpful.

Yes, yes, yes, get ready let’s go. Our dinners arrived 10 minutes later. At which point our non-dining friend left, drinkless – though managed to cancel her drink before she left. Of course, when the drinks order finally turned up, her drink did too. I was beginning to wonder if the Brexit Ultras were running the show. #proudtraitor. Do I need a full stop after a hashtag?

I was however pleasantly surprised with how the dinner appeared – like when you go on a date with a blonde girl with big boobs and she turns up without fake nails, fake tan, fake hair, fake eyelashes, etc. You know, like a normal human.

First things first, where is the gravy? I’m used to ‘invisible gravy’ but this was also non-existent. The waitor who definitely was absolutely nothing to do with the bar said it was just coming over. I asked for extra gravy, explaining that I am northern. He told us not to worry, as it came in a big jug.

If that was a big jug of gravy then I have an average sized nob. I’m still single, by the way, ladies. Everybody scream.

The carrots were close to exquisite. Chantenay carrots with the skin still on, these were plump and eminently juicy – tasting so fresh and almost fragrant. How carrots should be – and so rarely are.

Several sticks of tenderstem broccoli were supplied too. Not an awful lot to say about them, but they had the right balance between tough and soft – perfectly balanced.

Finally for vegetables, we had a selection of roasted parsnips. Small and arguably slightly over-roasted, yet not to the point of being burnt, these were again high on satisfaction. Sweeter than your average parsnip – I thought I detected a tiny hint of honey but it was marginal, so possibly not. Time to order our next massive tanker of gravy. Also known as a small jug. Is Rachel Stevens still hot?

So far so good. But of course roast potato territory arrives. Oggi oggi oggi.

Before I move on, I think you need a tab of acid, and to immerse yourself in the Atmosphere Creator. Turn the volume up high – you will love this.


Still with me? That is what I subjected my two closest friends to on Saturday. Well, I subjected them to walking past it. Slowly. I think they are still speaking to me.

The roast potatoes were actually good. Well, three of the four were – and to get four fairly large potatoes south of the M62 is quite a miracle. Albeit at £19.50, which would get you at least two roast dinners up north. And a ride on the waltzers. Oi oi oi.

All crispy on the outside – chuffed up too. Not amazingly crispy but I really don’t want to complain. Well, I do want to complain – I always want to complain, so just a quick reminder that the service was poo. Three of the roast potatoes were nicely fluffy on the inside – again not perfect, but as good as I’ve had in months. The last, and largest roast potato was rather tough inside.

I didn’t get the Yorkshire pudding. It was a sponge rather than the traditional structure, and was yellow inside. Yes, yellow. At first I wondered if there was a hint of tumeric, but I couldn’t taste it. Perhaps they were made from duck eggs? A mystery, and not a compelling one to solve. And yes, I ordered another jug of gravy. The waiting staff didn’t pay us any attention so I had to vacate my seat and find someone. And I mean ‘get the Yorkshire pudding’ in a somewhat pejorative way, not in a where is the fucking gravy way.

The pork belly was very good. For £19.50 I’d expect so (yeah I’m a tight northern bastard and I bang on about how much everything costs in London), the succulence of the pork balanced the crispy crackling, though the crackling was arguably too salty. Quite overwhelmingly so. But we are talking margins away from perfection – this was very, very good. Juicy.

My accomplice was also impressed with her beef, stating that it was one of the best she had had.

Finally, the gravy was very good too. Quite thick – unusually so for down south, and a meat stock flavour to it. Proper gravy – none of this jus crap. One of the best that I’ve had in London – The Old Red Cow was by some way the best.

So after 7 very average roast dinners in a row, I need to work out just how good this was. It definitely reaches the 8’s. The service was poor – inattentive, unhelpful and frankly useless, bar the young lady going upstairs to get us extra gravy. The Yorkshire pudding odd, one spud bad. The rest was very good. Perfection wasn’t reached at any point, but nothing bar the Yorkie was anything other than very good or excellent.

It is a bit off the top 4, and the high cost does have to have detract from the score a tad, as does the poor service. I’m giving it an 8.06 out of 10. And yes, I paid the fucking 12.5% “suggested” service charge like a cocksucker.

Overall, if you don’t mind forking out this much for a roast, then I can definitely recommend it.

I was considering going to fabric this coming Sunday for a couple of beers, but despite attempting to channel my inner John Redwood and repeatedly telling my bank balance to be more optimistic and find that not existent money, it is still saying ecstaNO (as opposed to esctasi). That said, I can afford a cheaper roast, so I should be back next week, with a roast, from an area of London that I have yet to visit.

Exciting.

Go on, take pity on me and give this a share. Up the workers.

The Lamb, Bloomsbury

You’ll have probably noticed one or two patterns of moaning in my blog.

Actually you probably won’t have noticed, as anyone who has read this abomination of a creative writing speciality before, won’t read it again. Except for my sister and one or two completely bizarre freaks. Is that you? Are you a freak too? Do you wanna freak with me? Or you could just subscribe to me – there is a box on the right. You just need to put your e-mail address in and you’ll be notified for every roast dinner review I do.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Theresa May’s conference speech. What? You don’t want to hear my in-depth analysis? You want me to talk about roast dinners? Really?

Well, I’ll be damned, folks.

So yeah. Moaning. I like to moan. Which is pretty useful as I have lots of opportunities on this blog, as nobody has yet provided a thoroughly excellent roast dinner, and hardly anywhere has provided me with a crispy roast potato. Spoiler alert – no crispy roast potatoes today either – in fact, quite a controversy.

The Lamb in Bloomsbury was picked as it was close to my sister’s work and she had to work on a Sunday afternoon. A ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. A ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. This meant an early roast dinner, at 12:30 – practically breakfast time. I was hoping this would allow for freshly-made crispy roast potatoes. I would tell you now, but you’ll need to read on to find out whether our dreams came true.

It is a proper old school kind of pub – quite an enchanting look on the outside with several hanging baskets, a centre-bar with plenty of seating around the edge. There was a small and well-kept beer garden, and the obligatory urine-smelling toilet. There was an upstairs but no idea whether this was just the ladies, or whether there is another bar. A proper, traditional pub where you could take your grandad, pretty much as central as you can be.

And lo and behold…wait. Hold your horse tranquilizer. I haven’t actually finished my opening paragraph – hardly a surprise with my dreadful concentration levels. I blame Donald Trump. 28 television interviews the day before a conference speech is pretty fucking amateur planning, isn’t it?

You’ll have probably noticed one or two patterns of moaning in my blog. Shit roast potatoes, an aversion to herbs, invisible gravy, jus. One of my true bugbears is a limited choice of meats. Always chicken, pork and beef, often lamb. Ever so rarely anything else. 25 million immigrants in London and not one of them has any imagination to add to a roast dinner.

But lo and behold. The Lamb had poussin on offer (little chicken to the culinary-challenged out there), partridge (it’s a dumbass bird that posh people breed and shoot) and duck (you know what ducks are I hope). Crazy. With an elongated vowel. 3 unusual meats. They had beef topside and leg of lamb too – but why would you choose one of them when you could have something completely different? Eh, sister?

I took my shotgun out and…yeah maybe no gun jokes this week. Unless they were dead Libyans as that is completely acceptable to joke about, isn’t it, Boris?

I chose partridge. £17.95. The cheapest meal was actually the beef at £14.95 – I think the duck was £18.45…maybe £18.95. The others in between. There was also some kind of vegetarian option which I am sure would be been absolutely gorgeous.

Two very good points to note. Firstly, if you sign up on their website, you get a free beer. I have no idea if this only applies to the first Young’s pub that you sign up to (Fullers declined my idea of a free pub crawl even with my 10 different e-mail addresses), but give it a try.

Second, there was a warm welcome from the gentleman who seemed to be running the place, and the cute young Scottish lady that did most of our service. Unlike the wanky Florentine and the sterile Hawksmoor – I felt at home here. I could spend hours here. Alas, my sister had to go to work. On a Sunday afternoon. A ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. I probably shouldn’t laugh – karma and all. If the young Scottish lady is reading, I hope my blog has made your world a little more beautiful.

Dinner took around 20 minutes to arrive.

I started on the leaves – I think variegated kale and possibly Swiss chard – I stand to be corrected, especially on the latter. Both had a good texture, easy enough to chew yet weren’t completely floppy – the kale having a slightly earthy taste, and the Swiss chard which had a slightly sweet taste – very reminiscent of spinach. A complimentary mixture.

Then there was an area of finely diced celeriac. A slight nutty taste with a hint of thyme – it was slightly annoying to have them so finely diced but I really am being pedantic there. I do however find celeriac pointless – but it is a rarity that it is served, so kudos for imagination again.

So far so good, but how about the roast potatoes? There were no roast potatoes. Or maybe there were? To me, I thought that they more closely resembled baked potatoes – not only in look, but taste and texture too. Mine were a little burnt on the outside, but that didn’t really detract – the insides were soft. A controversial touch, but The Lamb doesn’t do normal. And I approve of that.

But I would have preferred crispy roast potatoes. Alas.

Onto the Yorkshire pudding. Again it was burnt on the top. Meh. However, when I got down to the base, it had a glorious taste – really scrunchily yummy, a thick eggy taste – it seemed like quite a magnificent batter had gone into it. Impressive in terms of taste, once I got away from the burnt top.

Despite the fact that I voted Tory, I have never eaten partridge before. I haven’t even shot one. That I remember, anyway. There are large chunks of my life that I don’t remember due to insobriety, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t eaten partridge. So I have no other partridge eating experiences to compare it to.

It came as a whole bird. It was a little tough – especially on the legs which were particularly difficult to cut any meat from at all. I was actually pretty knackered from cutting the meat off the bird. Again the breast was tougher than I’d prefer – substantially more so than chicken. Is that normal? Don’t ask me.

Difficulties aside, it was really tasty. In terms of taste, it is much more interesting than normal chicken – very much a gamey taste – in terms of texture then chicken is arguably preferable. There was a very slight hint of both thyme and cracked pepper, but the bird itself had enough going for it without the need for additions.

As a very important side note, sitting here post-roast by myself in my imaginary girlfriend’s bra and panties, my farting is now on another level. An astonishing partridge like smell. You could call it fartridge. Yes I am a neanderthal northern fuckwit that enjoys farting, go stick a battered sausage up your vagina, you snowflake. Though quite why such a beautiful and unique thing as a snowflake has become such a derogatory term is beyond me. Are you telling me that your average racist can drive up a hill after a few snowflakes? Fuck off.

Can you share my blog please?

Gravy. It was a thin and watery affair – very bland and pretty much tasteless. Surprise, surprise, there was so little on the plate so we had to ask for more. Twice.

And look at this.

Yes. We got charged £1.75 for each hug of plain, watery gravy. Had I known that I would have brought a fucking flask of gravy. Not at any point were we advised that, nor did I see it listed on the menu. A bit cheeky. Then again, we had a free beer and excellent service. Yes I know I wrote hug instead of jug. It was an accident but linguistically and romantically, it works.

Hmmm.

I should add before I move onto summarising and scoring, that my friend who had the poussin was happy with hers, though didn’t give it a score. My sister, who had the beef, said it was some of the worst beef that she’s ever had on roast dinner club, and only gave it a 6 out of 10 – the rest of the dinner she was very happy with.

Charging for gravy really is offensive. All the good work from it being a homely pub, a free beer, an imaginative menu and really excellent, warm service – cancelled in one offensive measure. JUST PUT ENOUGH GRAVY ON THE PLATE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Often I have a score in mind straight after the meal and the more I think about it, the lower the score becomes. This is the opposite. Having been hugely offended by being charged for extra gravy (might as well just have called me a southerner), and also offended by my sister not having a good roast (I know, your author is snowflake central), I’m starting to nudge the score up a bit. There were high levels of imagination – clearly a creative chef. The bottom of the Yorkshire pudding was excellent, the partridge was very good. The gravy was meh and I was disinterested in the celeriac and baked potatoes.

I’m giving it a 7.28 out of 10. A respectable roast – it is in the ‘good’ category.

Next Sunday I won’t be back in London until late afternoon so there might not be a roast dinner. I will be back. Unless I am banned, hospitalised or arrested in the coming week. All possible.

The Clockhouse, Peckham

You know what I said last week about having friends that are a pain in the backside? Not quite sure why or how I have friends, especially given that I voted Tory, but that’s another story, in the glory, naked with my whorey. Yeah I could be a rapper, cos I is so dapper. Maybe that should be my next dream, once I am bored of being a model. Not that I am yet a model, but I have at least another 5 years life in me.

So, said friend, a delightful, beautiful character, invited me for her birthday meal. On a Sunday. Perfect – I can kill two birds with one stone, have a roast dinner and celebrate a dear friend’s birthday.

She invited me to Yadas, in Peckham. A Kurdish restaurant. Do they do roast dinners in Kurdistan? Sorry, I mean in Kurdish areas of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran?

Of course they don’t do fucking roast dinners in Kurdistan. Yet another friend who does not understand the importance of my trying to discover the best and worst roast dinners in London. My typically Tory public service, roast dinner reviews for the many – I should probably register as a charity. Maybe I can get European Union funds?

Good time to remind you to share my page?

Alas, Yadas cancelled on us (second time this has happened). Yay, Yadas cancelled on us! I can go for a roast dinner after all. I feel like Cinderalla, if only I had some glitter high heels and a ball gown. And big tits. I did however make use of the unicorn headband found in the toilets.

I would show you a picture, but it has my ugly face on and I don’t want to scare you. Ladies, I am single, by the way. Hiiiiiiii.

So the back-up plan was to go to the Clockhouse in Peckham. Ahh Peckham, I always feel so at home there in their grimy bars and stickered toilets. Famous for Desmond the hairdresser and Victoria Beckham. Well it rhymes with Victoria Beckham.

Or maybe it was East Dulwich.


 

I’ve eaten here a couple of times before, though not for a couple of years. My memory of it was a slightly wanky gastropub affair, with occasionally questionable service, full of yummy-mummies and the occasional ket-head, with average food. Actually I think the first time I ate here it was good. Some scruffy-haired wannabe hippy did later ask me if I had any ‘k’ man after I blew my nose in the toilet. All I was doing was emptying snot into a handkerchief…whoa since when was there a ‘d’ in handkerchief?

My expectations for this roast dinner were low. But at least I wasn’t eating weird Kurdish food that every single review on every site gives it 5 stars. For why would I want that when I could have a likely distinctly average roast dinner.

It was a worrying start. We were late arriving, by around 1.5 hours from our original plan, and our greeter advised that there were only a few roasts left. I started to panic.

We were shown to the upstairs secret room behind the bookcase (this soooooo could be in shoreditch, darling), and told that there were 9 chicken roasts and 2 beef roasts left. There were 12 of us. I tried to order a roast straight away but our rather curt waitress wouldn’t allow it. Drinks order first, then food order later. She pointed out that they might run out of roasts if other tables ordered.

Which is why I wanted to reserve one! Another person who just does not understand my requirements.

Ahhh, speaking of frustration, special mention should go to TFL who have been absolutely shite this last week. You probably know this. I arrived at London Bridge, as per the instructions on the TFL app. It took me 15 minutes to work out how to get to London Bridge train station from London Bridge tube station, only to find out it was closed. I was directed to a bus stop – it didn’t exist (or perhaps I went the wrong way). So then I had the bright idea of getting back on the Jubilee line and getting the overground to Canada Water. But when I got to Canada Water, I found the overground closed. Again the advised bus stop for the rail replacement bus did not exist – I was about to walk for an hour until a bus to Peckham suddenly turned up.

Fascinating, eh?

The waitress arrived to take our orders – and of course, started at the opposite end of the table as me. When will I be treat with the importance I deserve?

I was starting to panic. I was getting ready to throw a “I’m not hungry anyway” strop but by time she got to me there were still 9 chicken and 2 beef roasts left. Panic over – at least until I next have to get a bus through south London.

Dinner arrived – I wasn’t counting how long it took but I guess around 15 minutes. I was marginally miffed to see bread sauce splurged around one side of the plate – I am (allegedly) an adult and ages ago acquired all appropriate abilities assisting appointments about appropriate additive adoption….ahhhhhhhhh alliteration. And of course, there was not enough gravy – so instantly I asked for more.

I started with some kind of giant leaf. This wasn’t the easiest to cut or chew, being quite tough and somewhat rubbery in texture. I don’t actually know what kind of leaf it was, it looked more like something you’d feed a rabbit (otherwise known in socialist Venezuela as your only meat in the next year and definitely not a pet). If I was being kind then I’d say it added colour to the plate.

As everything else was pretty much the same colour.

There appeared to be more than one type of squash involved, as some were orange, some yellow. Though they all looked like roast potatoes under the lighting conditions. The yellow ones were quite fruity – the orange tasted more like the traditional butternut squash, less sweet and nuttier. It was quite a decent mix.

So seeing as they looked almost exactly the same, lets move onto the roast potatoes. These had been roasted in goose fat, and had a luxurious taste to their outside. Sadly, they had also been roasted quite some time ago, and had that kind of tired feel to them. I’ve had far worse.

One of the roast potatoes was much softer and fluffier. Well, I thought it was until I put half of it in my mouth and realised that it was actually stuffing. I don’t think I’ve ever had bad stuffing, maybe weird stuffing but never bad. This was a very nice example of pork stuffing with a generous hint of herbs, one assumes more sage. A little crispy on the outside and nice and fluffy on the inside – just how roast potatoes should be. Just a thought – if everything is going to be the same colour, then maybe think about different shapes?

The chicken was annoyingly cut to make it look like there was more than there really was. It wasn’t exactly short on volume, though it is annoying this way as then leads to unexpected bone in mouth scenario, and I’m not talking about a Spanish lesbian unexpected my bone in mouth scenario. The chicken was also dry, as if it had been sat under heat lamps for quite some time. Which it probably had.

The Yorkshire pudding was suspiciously well-structured, with factory-solid walls and a pleasantly soft bottom. It did look as though it came out of a packet, but tasted much better, and worked well with the chicken.

Finally, the gravy. It was supposed to be a red wine gravy, though I didn’t detect it as such (a relief as red wine gravy often goes wrong). The consistency looked better in the extra gravy than what originally came on the plate, though that was so limited as to be near invisible. And we had to ask twice to actually receive any extra gravy. Decent enough.

Overall it wasn’t bad. It was about what I expected. The review would clearly have scored higher if I had turned up at midday rather than early evening, but I can only review what I am served. Nothing was particularly bad, but nothing was particularly great either. It gets a 6.96 out of 10.

So do you want to hear how my journey home went? The first bus went past me without stopping. The next bus was making good progress to Elephant & Castle, but then it had an emergency break, everyone went lunging forward and there was a thud. The bus didn’t go any further. I gave up after 5 minutes and walked off – not sure whether he hit something but clearly had decided that the bus wasn’t going any further – though had also decided not to bother telling anyone. I walked the remaining distance to Elephant & Castle station. Guess what? It was closed. Seemingly unscheduled. I then changed tube later at a tube station with a toilet. Of course, for the first time ever the toilet was closed.

Fascinating, eh? Shall I start a new blog about transport difficulties in London?

Next Sunday I’m going central and going early. Like, practically breakfast time. Or wake-up line of ketamine time for the scruffy-haired wannabe hippy.

The Happy Man, Egham

Yes I know Egham is not in fucking London.

I have a friend. A very good friend. A beautiful soul (he gave me my first ecstacy pill – obviously I kept it in my back pocket and pretended to be having the best time ever). But occasionally he is just slightly hard work. My mum doesn’t read this does she?

The first time he joined me for a roast dinner in London was actually the first review, at The Duke Of Wellington, in Notting Hill. He doesn’t quite know the underground network as well as I do, so I chose somewhere very easy to get to from Paddington rail station – just two stops away. He went the wrong way and ended up getting a taxi.

This time I scoured my to-do list for somewhere close and easy, finally managing to book a table somewhere close to Paddington. He then advised he would just drive to mine so I could navigate from there. So I could just have picked anywhere.

And then the night before, he requested a change of plan. To The Happy Man in Egham. Outside of the M25.

I repeat, outside of the M25. It doesn’t even have a fucking zone. It might as well be in Hull. Sigh.

Speaking of which, it was such a timewarp inside that it felt like I was in Doncaster. In 1997. It had the same wallpaper as the trendy pub I went to in Stockwell last Sunday, but it wasn’t in an ironic way – the wallpaper had clearly been there for decades. The Happy Man had the look and feel of a proper old school pub from up north, with a solid wooden bar, that shit-caravan sponge seating that was popular in the 1960’s, little stools that actually matched each other, and solid oak tables.

It really was a timewarp. So untrendy that it will probably be full of hipsters within the next few years. And as much as I like my mismatched chairs, fairy lights and comfort of zone 2 – I was enjoying the nostalgic feel. Seal of approval so far, and that is before we even get to the clientele who were mainly 18 year old female students – or the ones I saw were anyway.

By the way, if any students from the nearby halls of residence are reading, I would just like you to know that I finished paying my student loan debt back a few years ago. All £6,600 of it at very low interest rates. Haters gonna hate. Or is it haterz?

The Happy Man was sold to me on the basis that it was cheap and plentiful. Though if I wanted cheap and plentiful then I would have just bought two frozen dinners from Iceland. Or do I need three dinners taking into account shrinkflation? Just put your prices up FFS.

I did get ripped off on the drinks bill though, no way were the advertised prices adhered to:

So given that I was already out of my comfort zone, we decided that we should maximise discomfort by sitting at the bar to eat our food, in the vain hope that my face might be brushed by an a-cup breast trying to get a Strongbow and black, as I munched probably rock solid, hard roast potatoes.

Food time. Overall, the menu was as limited as the decor, however there were 4 roast dinner choices – chicken, beef, lamb or pork. For just £7.95. Maybe this was actually a timewarp? Maybe I actually am in Wakefield? £7.95. I’ve had well over 100 roast dinners in the south of England, and only 2 were cheaper than that – and both were abominations of the highest order. That fact in mind, I ordered the pork – I decided it was harder to get wrong.

Dinner arrived after around 15-20 minutes, resting nicely on a place-mat from around 1974, with a side dish of vegetables to the…side.

Vegetables first, which were all green and either steamed or boiled.

I’m not even sure I can be bothered to write about them. I think I have writer’s block. They were all pretty spot-on given their form of cooking. All green. All plentiful.

Quite a few small heads of broccoli which were marginally softer than crunchy.

Again the green beans were of similar stature, already cut into 3-4cm lengths, and again plentiful.

Some cabbage was supplied also, unremarkable but pleasant nonetheless.

Then there were two parsnips. They weren’t the most appealing looking things, and almost seemed as if they had been deep-fried, from texture and taste. I’m not sure they had – but they just seemed that way. Somewhat cheap, nasty and pointless.

Guess what? The roast potatoes weren’t great. They had been roasted (well, maybe deep fried – they had that oily taste to them, but I think roasted) and were quite challenging on the inside. Some would say al dente, I would just say tough. I’ve had worse. Often. But these weren’t good.

Two small Yorkshire puddings were included, both soft yet structured nicely – a little wider and overflowing – two good homemade yorkies.

I think I made the right choice with going for pork, as both the beef and lamb that my accomplices had looked more well done that I prefer. The pork loin slices practically covered the whole plate. There was that much of it (one could have had two meats for £9.95 but I was advised against that). It was soft and succulent, very nicely cooked – I couldn’t ask for more given the price that I paid for the dinner.

There was a little stick of crackling too, crunchy but not tooth-breakingly so, in fact it dissolved a tad and crunched up nicely. Tasty – worked perfectly with the juicy pork loin.

Finally the gravy. It was hard to distinguish a particular taste out of it, but it did seem to be a stock-based gravy. It had a reasonable consistency to it – like most of the dinner, it was very respectable.

Overall it had the kind of feeling of a mother-cooked roast dinner. Unspectacular but solidly respectable. My mum doesn’t read this does she? Roast potatoes were unsurprisngly a let-down but everything else was good. And just how cheap was it? £7.95 – just 40% of the price of Hawksmoor.

I’m giving it a 7.37 out of 10. Very respectable indeed.

If you want a solid mother-style roast dinner with no pompous shit, at a bargain price, and fancy spending loads of money and time on travelling to Egham like my friend that wanted to save money by not going to London and spending £20 on petrol instead, then this is your place.

You aren’t going to bother though, are you? Would you even eat in zone 3?

This coming Sunday I shall once again be paying ridiculous amount of money for a roast dinner and shit roast potatoes – west London this time. Zone 1. Holy cow. Lick my hairy nipples…make me a Happy Man.

Crown And Anchor, Brixton

I seem to have little runs of form with roast dinners. I was on a good run of form, with many good or very good roast dinners – which followed a bad run.

Seemingly I am back on a bad run at the moment, with 3 disappointing roast dinners in a row, even Hawksmoor disappointed. So when I ran the random number generator, and it picked the Crown & Anchor in Brixton, and I looked at the pictures on their website, my heart sank.

It looked like turd. It was going to be a 4th disappointing roast dinner in a row. No FOMO.

After punishing myself with an hour or so of emergency shopping down Oxford Street, trying to dodge the exceptionally slow walkers and overweight woman in just their underwear, I made my way to Stockwell tube station.

Do you remember how you used to find places prior to having Google Maps on your phone? Me neither. Upon arrival in this unexplored district of London, I had no navigation tools. I took a punt on the direction, sticking to main roads, and hoped my telephone would once again resemble the modern piece of equipment it was in the good old days when Nick Clegg was still vaguely important.

15 minutes walk later, I was still exactly the same distance away from my destination. Maybe I should have done more than throw wet toilet roll onto the ceiling of the church when I was at cubs. Yes, I got thrown out.

The pub itself seemed like a little golden charm in a less than salubrious neighbourhood. It had a main room which was open, bright and airy, exposed brickwork on one wall, old-fashioned wallpaper on another, with lashings of pub-grey paint around the bar – you know the colour – there are two colours that modern, funky pubs use – either pub-grey or pub-blue. Think about it.

The Crown & Anchor also had a sizeable outdoor seating area.

Three roast dinner options were available, beef, pork and chicken. I chose the chicken as it was the one that sounded most interesting, it being paprika-spiced, at the almost bargain of a price at £11.95. The most expensive option was beef at £12.95. Have I ever had a cheaper roast dinner in a pub in London? I don’t think so.

Price is only one aspect though, and after paying £20.00 for a disappointing roast dinner at Hawksmoor last weekend (I’m still banging on about Brexit so don’t expect me to stop complaining about Hawksmoor any time soon), it is all about the food quality, the taste and can they actually make a roast potato which looks like it has been roasted?

I had around 15-20 minutes to wait to find out.

It certainly looked better than what was on their website.

Four vegetables were supplied – one of which was one tiny head of broccoli so you’ll understand that I’m not really able to pass comment. Like most of the vegetables, it seemed to have been steamed, or similar.

There was a fair handful of green beans, cooked pretty much perfectly in terms of time – just a hint of crunch and just past that squeaky stage.

3 pieces of carrot were supplied – cut vertically into quarters. Again I assume steamed, they were a tad more crunchy than for my personal preferences, but perfectly acceptable.

All decent so far, although entirely unspectacular.

Then there was a fair-sized portion of red cabbage. I don’t really like red cabbage so always difficult for me to judge it too much (unless it is really, really good), this was quite tangy and had a pretty strong, fruity taste to it – perhaps also due to how it combined with the gravy.

As usual, 3 roast potatoes came, and as usual they were not crispy on the outside. They were acceptable, I have had far worse recently but definitely nothing to write home about. Also a little touch of thyme.

Mixing things up and going onto the paprika-spiced chicken. It wasn’t strongly spiced as such (though I use paprika every day so I’m probably immune to it), it gave it a pleasant glaze and more of a hint of paprika. Despite it being half a chicken, I wasn’t overloaded with meat – it wasn’t an especially large or plump chicken. Like most of the dinner, just respectably average.

I say most, as the Yorkshire pudding (or yorkie as our Stockport-born waitress deightfully advised), was dreadful, brittle and hollow – reminding me of Diane Abbott. Oh wait a minute, sorry, I just remembered that we aren’t allowed to criticise her any more because some Twitter troll called her a “ni…”…actually let’s not go there. I’m not black and this isn’t daytime TV.

Or maybe I am black. Maybe I am Beyonce’s long-lost British sister. Or maybe I am Linford Christie – think about it, do you ever hear about Linford Christie any more? How do you know that isn’t me? Do you even know who Linford Christie is?

Shit, I’ve just realised that I made you think of the n-word. I am so racist. Get me a column on Breitbart quick sharp.

 

 

 

Hitler.

 

 

 

 

Rectum.

 

 

 

Gravy. Oh yes, gravy. It was a red wine gravy, again not my personal favourite but it was a pretty good gravy. Quite a good consistency, it was an actual gravy, the red wine taste wasn’t overly strong, and it worked. And for possibly the first time ever in London, I didn’t need to ask for more.

Overall it was very average. I would say I couldn’t complain considering the low price of £11.95, but I can complain – the Yorkshire pudding was an abomination (unlike Diane Abbott who is great). It was a reasonable roast dinner, in a very nice pub, full of Australians, young people and people that voted to remain in the EU (yes still banging on about it).

My accomplice was more impressed than me but he thinks Iceland does good quality food.

I’m going to give it a 6.98 out of 10. Better than Hawksmoor (yes still banging on about it).

Wait. Hold your horses. Keep that line of ketamine on the toilet seat. I just remembered that I had a stuffing ball. It was unremarkable, just a small sage and onion stuffing ball, but a delightful treat nonetheless. That bumps it up to a 7.02 out of 10. Neigh.

That’s me. I am finished. Until next week. The random number generator has picked somewhere in a posh area (probably full of tossers), but it is fully booked according to their website so I’m going to call them and pretend to be a Tory. That should free up a table.

Oh to be famous enough for some Twitter abuse.

 

 

 

 

 

Hawksmoor, Spitalfields

Ladies and gentlemen. We have reached review number 25. This is big, beautiful news. So big, and so beautiful that the fake news media of CNN won’t report it. What is their problem? Why are they denying the democratic rights of your favourite roast dinner reviewer? You are following me on Facebook and especially my favourite, Twitter aren’t you? And sharing every post?

Because I am the best. The best roast dinner reviewer this town has ever seen. Believe me.

I like numbers. Numbers are beautiful, and I like big, beautiful round numbers like 100. But, folks, hear me now blud, 25 is a quarter of 100, which is pretty special too.

Some people didn’t think I’d make it to 25 roasts. Some people didn’t even think I’d make it to London. They are losers. All of them.

You are a winner. You read my blog. You share my blog. This makes you a winner. The others are losers. Sad.

So after two disappointing roast dinners at Florentine, and The Junction Tavern, it was time to raise the standards. There are one or two places on my list that I am dearly wanting to eat at. Hawksmoor is one of those. For years I have wanted to go and have a steak there, but I have never got around it to – mainly due to being a tight-fisted northern twatt.

A beef roast dinner at Hawksmoor is £20, though I believe they also have some kind of sharing platters for roasts. There was one tricky course to navigate, and that was that we had booked for 5pm yet the roasts were not guaranteed from that time.

As I am, however, the greatest negotiator that the world has known (you can buy my book), I managed to persuade them to guarantee our roast dinners for 5pm. Though I didn’t have so much luck and understanding when responding to their offer of unlimited gravy when I asked for parking availability for my empty oil tanker. I even pointed out that I was northern. Sad.

I didn’t have the most exciting weekend. I cleaned my bedroom. I cleaned my bathroom. I cleaned my kitchen. I fixed a website for someone. I didn’t even drink one beer. No drugs. Honest – not even a sneaky crack pipe. Then finally the moment arrived. A very special day. A day of anticipation and excitement. For I was going to Hawksmoor.

There are about 6 or so different Hawksmoor restaurants. For no particular reason, I picked the Spitalfields one. Upon arrival I was shown to my seat and awaited my accomplices. The place itself seemed quite dark yet classy due to the black-painted walls. It was very busy – every table seemed to be taken, and we’d occasionally glimpse food porn walking past.

Drinks were pricey, the cheapest bottle of red was £32, if I recall correctly. Guess how much the most expensive one was? I’ll tell you at the end. I was quite thankful that it was a rare no-drinking weekend for me. Hmmmm beer. Hmmmm steak. Hmmmm boobies.

Dinner took around 40 minutes to arrive. My accomplices were particularly hungry, I not quite as much, but I was certainly greatly anticipating my meal. This was going to be even more beautiful than a big, beautiful wall around Shoreditch.

Although on arrival, it didn’t look quite the dream I hoped for.

The carrots, were however quite dreamsome. Horizontally sliced, perhaps on a slight diagonal, they were buttery to taste – and seemed to have been steamed from texture. In terms of crunch/squish ratio, they were spot on for my tastes, with just a little bite to them.

Then there was a shallot, possibly only half in my case. It was a touch on the bitter side, though I didn’t have enough to formulate an opinion – I’m not bothered though.

Accompanying this, or perhaps I should say, the rest of the dinner accompanied half a plate of greens. They went on forever like a good friend of mine that never shuts up. I’m struggling to pinpoint their roots, they looked more like spinach but certainly didn’t taste as such. They were too small for normal spring greens – but tasted similar, though slightly more bland than previous spring green offerings. Did I tell you there was a lot of them? They kept on coming. Never-ending spring greens, with the odd strand of cabbage sprinkled in. Maybe young spring greens are a thing?

There was also half a bulb of roasted garlic. What a waste of garlic. Does anyone actually sit there are eat 15 half-bulbs of garlic? I love garlic but this just seemed an utter waste – I did have a couple of the half-bulbs but just found them annoying to dig out. Maybe I was supposed to put in on my head or something.

Onto the roast potatoes. Or the potatoes, as they would be better known as. I thought that the reason that we’d be waiting 40 minutes for dinner was that there would be freshly roasted, crispy potatoes for us. No. Just 3 small potatoes, quite tough and unappealing in texture – though on the bright side they had been roasted in duck fat. Just nowhere near long enough. And why bother with duck fat on disappointing spuds?

£20 I paid for this.

It does get better but not during Yorkshire Pudding O’Clock. Moderately large but not even vaguely beautiful. Crispy at the top, the walls themselves were dried out sponges. They bottom was vaguely better, if still a tad rubbery, but only better due to the gravy soaking. Sad. And bad.

Let’s go onto gravy. I know, I normally leave it until the end. Unlimited gravy came in the world’s smallest gravy thimble. Extra gravy was requested before I even saw it. Thankfully the gravy rescued the meal somewhat, as it was a very good onion and bone-marrow gravy. It seemed that quite some effort had gone into it, and the flavourings were in perfect quantities. Being a northerner, I’d prefer it not so runny, but I am aware that gravy isn’t like cement down ‘ere.

And finally, arguably most importantly, especially in a place famed for its steaks – the meat. The waitress advised us that the usual beef joint was not available, so we were getting rump steak instead. There were a modest 5 slices of steak, all wonderfully pink in the middle (this is their medium), seemingly quite heavy on the sea salt. It was excellent, some of the best rump steak that I have ever had.

Over.

Folks, that was quite a mixed bag. Parts were poor, parts were pointless, parts were truly excellent. It was definitely expensive for what it was.

The service was intermittent but friendly. The ‘voluntary’ tip added to the bill wasn’t earned in my opinion, it was the bare minimum that you’d expect but not what I would normally tip for. You know how some restaurants know just when to approach – well, they didn’t at Hawksmoor. They didn’t approach at the wrong times either – it was just OK service.

I have to say that I was disappointed. I was expecting excellence throughout the meal – not just for parts of it. I truly thought that it could be one of the best that I’ve had so far. It ranks nearer the bottom than the top, with a 6.93 out of 10. This is not fake news.

If you want to go to a steak place for a Sunday roast, then get yourselves to the excellent Bar & Block in King’s Cross, or the very good Hanger in Fulham.

I’m sad to say this, but I cannot recommend Hawksmoor for Sunday roasts. Oh Hawksmoor, why did you not live up to my high expectations? I still want to go back and have a proper steak, but I won’t be rushing back.

Next week I’m going sarf. Brixton MASSIVE. It could potentially be the cheapest pub roast dinner so far that I’ve reviewed. Alas their website photography of roast dinners suggests to me it will be a 4th disappointing roast in a row.

I am big and I am beautiful. I love you all – don’t forget to share. We are going to be so great together.

Oh yeah, the answer to the quiz question was £1,700.