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.

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