Riverford @ The Duke Of Cambridge, Islington

Orgasms. Remember that trend?

I mean organic. Remember that trend?

For those of a millenial bent, back in the early to mid 2000’s, it suddenly became very popular to get nanny to take little Jacob to the local organic produce store for fertiliser-free triple-priced artichokes for breakfast. Kind of like the veganism conspiracy of now, but even more pretentious – definitely less preachy though.

And then Labour’s Great Recession happened…oh no, sorry, it was all the bankers fault for forcing people to have mortgages for ridiculously overpriced tiny houses that they couldn’t afford, all whilst Gordon “I have ended Tory boom and bust” Brown desperately tried to get the regulators to stop the bankers lending money all through the mid-2000’s, and didn’t sell our gold for market-bottom prices.

I believe that there is a Schwarzenneger film about it, where he plays one of the evil bankers forcing people to borrow money, “I’LL BE BACK – TO REPOSSESS YOUR HOUSE”.

Oh yeah, and then Tarquin and Tarquinetta downgraded to using Waitrose. And in a magical puff of smoke, everyone forgot about organic food.

Until the random number generator picked The Duke of Cambridge in Islington, which is supplied by Riverford and is the first and only certified organic pub in the United Kingdom, and now those of you beyond millenial age that still have a vaguely functioning memory despite all the drugs you’ve consumed will be like, “oh yeah…organic food”.

Although in the very pretty environs of Islington, I suspect that organic food hasn’t been totally forgotten about – quite possibly partly to do with the charms of The Duke of Cambridge. In fact doesn’t Boris Johnson live around the area? Oh wait a minute, he used to live around the area. Lying, cheating bastard.

Meanwhile, after 8 years of evil Tory AUSTERITY (for the want of a Halloween style font) Tarquin and Tarquinetta are now shopping in Lidl. Don’t worry about them too much, for Brexit will make everyone richer come 30th March 2019…ish…though it might not stop Waitrose going bankrupt.

Speaking of which, have you heard about the People’s Roast Vote?

I have a particular fondness for democracy (apart from the 2016 vintage), and thought it apt to give you, my dear readers, a chance to vote on where I go for an upcoming roast dinner.

At the time of writing, I have already had 12 nominations of roast dinner venue, and I’m only going to accept a maximum of 4 more. Should you wish to nominate a venue, you can add a comment on this page.

Next week, I will then do a series of semi finals, followed by a final, where you can vote on Twitter to choose where I go for a roast dinner. Democracy in action. How exciting! About time we had something to vote for in this country.

So this Sunday, a whole 4 of us made it to The Duke of Cambridge – my two most regular assistants and a virgin. A roast club virgin, that is.

The pub itself is very much a food-focused pub, with lots of sturdy tables and chairs (no hipster mismatching) – from a quick glance around in the main bar area there wasn’t much in the way of non-seating area, and just a couple of people at the bar. Pretty much every table was occupied, and pretty much every table had fairly young types…but probably just about old enough to remember the organic food trend. By young I mean people under 40, like me. Though I don’t feel young…that might have something to do with being increasingly overweight and ugly though…I’m so fat and ugly that I even got turned down by a pregnant woman on the tube this week when I offered my seat.

Attached to the main bar area was some form of well-built conservatory – and it was very warm inside. Too warm. My initial thoughts were that I was glad that it was not July.

I was already sold on the charms of The Duke of Cambridge by the fact that the menu changes every day, and is uploaded that morning. Almost every day over the last week there has been something on the menu that I was really keen on, despite the menu being heavy on vegetarian offerings. And last Sunday they had venison on the roast menu…so I was excitedly hoping for something similar.

Alas, there was no venison on the menu this week.

On the menu this week was lamb seamcut leg or confit chicken leg – both with red wine gravy, £19 and £18.50 respectively – not the cheapest roast ever. There was also a squash ragout or something for the vegetarian roast. I’ve never associated the word ‘ragout’ with the word ‘organic’ but hey, I spent a year living in Bracknell so what the fuck do I know about the English language?

I chose the lamb – in fact we all chose the lamb. I didn’t actually know what confit means – I kind of assumed it meant ‘small’, so lamb seemed the safer choice. Hey, stop judging me, some people from where I’m from don’t know what vegetables are.

Our meals took around 20 minutes to arrive, and seemed very delicately presented…though almost free of gravy.

Starting with the cavolo nero, this was a cross between cabbage and kale – chopped into small pieces. It had a slightly nutty taste to it, otherwise nothing too noteworthy. My assistants insisted that it had leek with it – but I wasn’t convinced.

The rest of the review from here is going to be pretty dull and lifeless, as I’ve just had all the soul and humour sucked out of me by the Metropolitan line. I do like to write my review on a Sunday evening when I get back, however I’d had 5 beers and the last time I wrote a review in a similar state (albeit with added Jagerbombs) I tortured you to a stop-start written rendition of The Ketchup Song.

And I was too tired last night to write that much…in fact half of the above I dreamt up when I was naked…in the shower on Monday morning…annoying timing as then I had to try to remember it all…and I definitely haven’t.

So what can I still remember from Sunday’s roast?

Red cabbage. There was a sizeable portion of one of my least favourite vegetables. Yet it was delicious. How now brown cow? Oh shit, that’s racist, isn’t it? It wasn’t the gravy making it that tasty – it was braised but there was clearly more than the braised effect that made it so delicious, yet I didn’t work out what it was.

There was a small lump of roasted cauliflower – a little too roasted and fairly uninspiring – certainly when next to the red cabbage. I really have seen red cabbage in a new light now.

I had forgotten until I checked the photograph, but there was also a sizable length of parsnip. Quite nutty and quite sweet – a very nicely balanced parsnip – though personally I would have roasted it a little longer.

The roast potatoes were not roast potatoes. They were roasted potatoes but not roast potatoes. I can see my one foreign reader even more baffled right now, however they had been roasted but had their skin on. Unusual on a Sunday roast, but still a little crispy on the outside if marginally, though pleasantly al dente on the inside.

There was no Yorkshire pudding either. Maybe you cannot get organic eggs? Maybe you cannot get organic flour? Don’t ask me, I’ve never been pretentious enough to eat organic food. Well…until now.

Five slices of lamb leg were provided – quite limited on width but I assume that was the cut – I don’t recall having seamcut leg before. It wasn’t blow-your-head-off good, but it was very nice. Pink enough for a little blood, just a little bit chewy at the margins, but overall some pretty tasty lamb.

Oh man I really cannot be arsed to finish this. The gravy was OK.

Which is kind of the truth, it was quite thin, a decent red wine gravy but not particularly my type of gravy. More an Islington gravy than an Immingham gravy. But if gravy doesn’t offend me then that is generally sufficient – it is a long time since I’ve been enthused by a gravy that I haven’t made.

Can I go now?

Service was quite good – not worth a 12.5% service charge that was added, but hey, I’m nearly as bored of moaning about that as I am listening to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s pathetic pretend-posh parroting – “oooh we are close to 48 letters”.

It’s a nice pub, a proper middle-class Islington kinda crowd and even if I do worry that I’m about to set off another pretentiousness craze, I do approve of the ethos behind the food. And I LOVE that they have a different menu every day. If I lived nearby and had the money, I’d be a regular visitor.

Beer choice wasn’t amazing, one lager which was off and one IPA which was warm…but it did grow on me.

I resisted ordering dessert but did have a mouthful of the beetroot-inflicted chocolate brownie, and it was sensational. £7 for a dessert is far too much for a tightarse northerner such as myself (is tightarse one word or two?), but if I were made of money (and I will be come Brexit Day so I keep hearing – woohoo, lets break out into a dance and snort some organic flour) then I would. Just looking at it made me horny.

Unexpectedly the highlight of the roast was the red cabbage – nothing disappointed but the cauliflower was closest to a failure.

Scores? Well the Roast Club virgin on the table insisted that it deserved at least an 8…if I recall correctly by time we’d had a couple more beers he was insisting on a 9. For the rest of us, something just short of an 8 was a fairly well-agreed score, and I’m giving it a 7.70 out of 10.

No roast dinner this weekend as I’m leaving the country temporarily to avoid National Child Begging Weekend. The weekend after…it depends on Hull Trains, who recently have been running 0% of services on some days, which makes TFL look like Japan Rail. Hopefully though.

Ooh congratulation to me for finishing this on Tuesday night. Except I truly cannot be arsed to put it onto WordPress, upload images, add custom data, update the maps, etc. What was the point in trying to finish it tonight? I’m such a moron sometimes. But you love me. It’s Wednesday night now. Well, unless you read it any other time than Wednesday night. What I mean is that I posted it on Wednesday night. I should just delete this whole paragraph, shouldn’t I?

5 Comments

  1. Seems a low score for what sounds like an excellently cooked, uniquely selected, well presented, environmentally friendly, delicious roast dinner. Warm beer and an enforced service charge does not make a 7!

  2. Ola Lord Gravy!

    Greetings from Boston, USA where we have been following with great enjoyment your heroic Sunday travails. During our frequent London visits, we have sampled the fare at some of the pubs on your list – both reviewed and to do.

    For your experiment in democracy, we nominate The Queen’s Head in Chiswick (which not so long ago was a sister location to the Smokehouse – Islington). However, given your non de plume, a note of caution… they serve red wine jus and not gravy.

    Nonetheless, throwing caution to the wind, we invite you to join us there the afternoon of 25th November.

    Here’s hoping this has added to your international cachet.

    Cheers,
    Amy and Andrew

  3. Hello Lord Gravy. You will need to follow me at @amyreinhart in order for DM-ing to be possible.

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