Punch Tavern, City Of London

Last Sunday I had the worst roast dinner so far – a total abomination thanks to the gravy. But whenever something is utterly incompetent, like Boris Johnson, this seems to bring out the linguistic genius in me…like Boris Johnson.

I’d had a few drinks, and couldn’t wait to start writing. I had so much to say – by the end I was convinced that it was so brilliant, such a literacy masterpiece, that I would be nominated for an Oscar. Or at the least it would go viral.

What happened?

Two complaints and a few less Twitter followers.

So this week I’m going to be really normal and boring – I’m going to write like a proper restaurant blogger, except without all the lying about how much of a life-changing experience it was. Unless it changed my life. It won’t though, will it? Can a roast dinner change your life?

So the random number generator picked Punch Tavern on Fleet Street, which we thought would be quite convenient seeing as we had tickets to a rooftop party 20 minutes walk away, though we didn’t, ahem, count on unexpected clubbing logistical issues.

Quite why I thought that it was a wise idea to have a big roast dinner before a spot of afternoon clubbing in the hot sunshine is another matter. Lets just call it my commitment to you, my dear reader. Or just being a stubborn dumbass at times.

The Punch Tavern was quiet upon arrival. I thought perhaps ominously so. Just a couple of reserved tables, including ours, then the majority of the other diners were tourists that had walked in on the off-chance. This could very easily go wrong.

The venue was very much your traditional London boozer, one assumes that it is very busy with the post-work crowd – it had no craft lager on offer which disappointed me – there is no excuse for serving just Heineken and the like nowadays…this isn’t Doncaster town centre. However they had a tasty Pale Ale on the guest tap which I enjoyed more than I expected.

If I recall correctly, and recollection isn’t going to be particularly easy given my consumption patterns after dinner…and I ain’t talking about a box of After Eight mints, there were only two roasts on offer – beef and chicken.

I quite fancied the salmon as I was going clubbing and roast dinners are not exactly pre-dancefloor meals, but alas, this is not Salmon And Vegetables In London, so I went for roast chicken at the very reasonable price of £14.00…reasonable for central London anyway. At least I think it was £14.00 – it is on the online menu though that is somewhat different to what was presented on the day. Maybe. My dining partner chased controversy and ordered the vegetable pie – we were supposed to have had another dining partner but he, ahem, had his “drink spiked” the night before.

One thing that I really do enjoy is farting (reason I don’t have a girlfriend #408), and this seems to be a common requirement after a roast dinner, so this was part of my thinking as to why I shouldn’t have a roast dinner before going clubbing. Farting and dancefloors don’t mix. Even outside dancefloors.

I guess that I am not going to be the new James Milner any time soon. By the way, if my dining partner is reading, he’s a footballer – they kick balls around a field into the goal and get lots of money for it.

Dinner took around 15-20 minutes to arrive.

So stretching back into the far realms of my memory, there were some orange cubes. Hmmm. This isn’t going well. Ahh yes, I think they were cubes of swede – seemingly numerous though I think more because of how quite tough they were. I wouldn’t quite go as far as saying that they were challenging, but they weren’t overly appealing, despite their sweet taste.

Carrots, too, were on the tough side – for my personal tastes undercooked. Roasted (if I recall correctly) and in baton format.

There was also some cabbage. You may be unsurprised to know that I’m struggling to remember much about it, though it was just generally quite ordinary.

A surprise occurred – and a tray of cauliflower cheese turned up. Apparently to go with the roast dinner – this had not been advertised on the menu (at least I hadn’t noted it on the menu), and was really quite good. The cauliflower was nicely cooked – not too hard, not too soft. The cheese was notable…I never quite worked out what it was, though it had quite a golden tinge to it…I suspect more than one type of cheese. Topped off with parsley aplenty. If only the rest of the vegetables had been that good.

The roast potatoes had actually been roasted. The question is over what day they had been roasted – as they were all rather rubbery. Or even what week. Maybe they were from the week before and had been in the freezer…surely not though? Quite annoying as they had gone to the effort of making good roast potatoes in the first place, which so many places get wrong – at some point these had been very good crispy roast potatoes. But not at the point that I received them. And it wasn’t like I’d turned up at 9pm.

On the other hand, the Yorkshire pudding was almost approaching sexy – it was verifiably fluffy and probably one of the more enjoyable ones that I’ve had recently – when eaten with the chicken, plus attempts at getting some light brown water on it, it managed to improve the chicken.

Alas the chicken wasn’t quite up to standard. Only a chicken breast, and it had shrivelled up somewhat since it was cooked…whenever that was…so it looked a tad stingy meat-wise. Also a tad dry – though I’ve had worse.

There was a cylindrical slice of stuffing, which was quite tasty. James Milner would be proud of that sentence.

After last week’s road resurfacing tar masquerading as gravy incident, I was relieved to receive a watery, oily and mostly tasteless gravy. It was far, far too watery for the preferences of anyone who has ever acknowledged the existence of places as far north as Stevenage, and for fat, ugly, northern twattface here – pah. But I’d take this weak, pathetic gravy over the disgusting dinner-destroying turd that I had last weekend any day.

Over.

I probably should be quite careful in how I score this as the assumed-landlord looked like an ex football-hooligan – if I was judging on looks, and fucking hell if you looked at the state of me even at the best of times, then you’d make some judgements upon my lifestyle, sanity and probably my sexuality (my grandma does), then I’d suggest that I’d more be expecting him to run a naff boozer in Magaluf – however one should never judge only by looks.

Oh no, I’m fat shaming, how dare I? Though perhaps it is more a reminder of what I will look like at the rate that I am eating roast dinners. Or maybe you want to call it council estate shaming – but you’ve only been to a council estate to buy drugs, haven’t you dear snowflake?

By the way, I voted Liberal Democrat last Thursday.

There was the obligatory 12.5% tax for daring to eat outside my house and expect my dinner to be brought to my table, though they did at least have to walk down a flight of stairs so I guess that is what that paid for.

I jest, of course, about the landlord’s appearance, as he did provide good service and was exactly the kind of bloke – proper bloke – that you’d expect and want to be running a traditional London boozer – he was welcoming and helped me past my initial disappointment of the lack of craft lager (I AM NOT A FUCKING HIPSTER). Plus there were two hotties working behind the bar. Oh give over with your political correctness and go read Vegan Life. Apparently Vegan Life is a thing…I thought I was making it up. By the way, is it just me or is Time Out at the centre of this Vegan conspiracy? Reading their countdown of street food the other day, and I just knew what type of food would be number one. Sigh. I wonder if the landlord is a vegan?

So, scores on the doors. I am brave and I have to be realistic. There wasn’t that much that was good about this roast dinner, apart from the reasonably delightful cauliflower cheese, which was by some way the highlight. Oh yeah and the yorkie. Shock horror, the roast potatoes were the worst part – nothing unusual there. Everything else was…acceptable – said in a strained voice – but could all be easily improved.

I’m going to give it a 6.72 out of 10. My accomplice’s reaction when I asked him how his vegetarian pie was, was “meh” accompanied by a Oxfordshire shrug.

Next Sunday, I’m going for a roast dinner with a chef. And no, I didn’t fart on the dancefloor.

3 Comments

  1. Now listen. You almost got it right this week, but one photo of the hotties behind the bar instead of TWO photos (not including the cauliflower cheese) of your gastronomic repast would have made things almost perfect. So a 7.44, which is a quantum leap forward from your tar-tasting gravy induced ramblings of last week. Onwards and upwards.
    I have not commented on the (non-singing) fat lady – well, now I have – because she might be a victim of society/an abusive upbringing/McDonalds who we should feel sorry for. Shame on you for shaming her, but thanks for the warning of what could befall us all if we make a wrong turn, diet wise.

  2. Just out of curiosity, what was the pale ale that received praise but no shout-out?

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