Hanger, Fulham

Simplicity and sobriety. Two things I desire. Two things I greatly admire. Two things that I am pretty shit at.

Friday I didn’t drink – I even turned down free beer. Saturday I didn’t drink. Now I’m sat at work, eating my lunchtime salad whilst starting to pen my thoughts. And whilst hungover. This is unnecessary complexity that I really do not require on a Monday.

One of the main perils of life is the abundance of choice. Am I the only one that goes into my local shop for a chocolate bar and spends 10 minutes evaluating the options available, only to wonder upon consumption as to whether I made the optimal decision? Am I the only one that flicks through all 900 channels on Sky TV before deciding to watch nothing due to indecision? Am I the only one that searches for “Saudi Arabian lesbian slave sex” on Pornhub, clicking through screen after screen, watching about 5 seconds of each video trying to find which video is most suitable?

It isn’t just me is it?

That is why I use the random number generator in as many aspects of my life as possible. Often including picking where to have a roast dinner on a Sunday.

This week it picked Hanger, in Fulham. A steak restaurant. A very, very quiet steak restaurant on a Sunday. Ominously so? Do the allegedly beautiful people of Fulham know something we didn’t? This added unnecessary complexity – which table to sit on? We had a choice of…every single table.

Simplicity was restored with the menu choice. In terms of roast dinners, there was an option of steak or steak. A 200g steak for £15.00, or a more complex 800g Côte de Boeuf for 4 people at £75. We chose simplicity on the basis of saving £3.75 each. The first and last time I chose the cost-effective option that day.

Dinner took a while to arrive, a good 30-40 minutes at a guess, though I wasn’t counting. The longer I wait for a roast dinner, the more likely that I am to get proper roast potatoes. Take as long as you like, baby.

Beer was forthcoming and the choice was simple with just one choice of lager on tap – a very nice, simple, crisp beer that went down too nicely. Is it bedtime yet? #FM’#FOMO’L. I am so down with the kids that I am practically inventing my own #hashtags.

Dinner (still don’t understand why people call it Sunday lunch down here – it isn’t fucking banana and salt & vinegar crisp sandwiches – yeah that is a thing…City Of Culture, I know where I’m from), where was I? Oh yeah, it arrived on one of those wooden boards to share between two people, and we each had a tiny plate – no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no, to place our dinner upon.

What is wrong with having a large plate? #FFS. #FOMOOAPPHCT.

I decided against the complex challenge of creating a vertical food tower on my tiny little saucer, keeping things simple with my share of vegetables.

Starting with the chicory. What is the meaning of chicory? I appreciate something new, but I didn’t enjoy it. It seemed to have quite a bitter taste to it, almost like coffee-flavoured onion. Weird.

I had one green bean. I am not really in a position to review one solitary green bean.

Moving onto the carrots. 3 vertically-sliced half-carrots were provided, all roasted and all succulent. Juicy with a hint of herbs, these were top notch.

Then the cauliflower cheese was also excellent. What I really liked about it was that it had seemingly been grilled (or similar) on top, to give it a crispy coating. The cauliflower itself was the perfect midway between soft and crunchy, and the cheese flavouring was evident, though not overbearing.

And then we had some magic. Crispy roast potatoes. Seriously crispy on the outside. Soft and fluffy on the inside. Apparently making proper roast potatoes is a skill far too complex for most places. Easily the best roast potatoes in London so far – 21 reviews and counting.

Sadly the Yorkshire pudding was a bit, umm. A bit overcooked and stale, not at all matching the quality of the rest of the roast.

Unsurprisingly for somewhere that specialises in steak, the steak was top-notch. We ordered medium-rare, it was definitely medium-rare – perhaps verging on the rare, though perhaps I’ve had too many medium-rare steaks that are not medium-rare. A nice grilled texture on the outside – very enjoyable moments.

Gravy. For me, it was too complex. I like a simple gravy. This was a red wine gravy (I think), with definitely added complexity. It didn’t taste burnt but it almost had a hint of it. Yet my 3 companions thought it was excellent. Horses for courses. Perhaps I should have asked for peppercorn sauce instead.

It’s another difficult one to score. The best roast potatoes so far in London. Excellent carrots and cauliflower cheese. Very good steak. Disappointing yorkie. Gravy that I didn’t appreciate.

The natural comparison is with Bar & Block, another steak place in King’s Cross (also very quiet on a Sunday). Personally, I preferred Bar & Block – but one of my accomplices went to both and preferred here. All of us rated this place, though I am giving it a lower score than my accomplices, at 7.86.

Service at first was a little baffling, it didn’t seem to flow – took quite a while to be able to order a beer, then when he did take our drinks order it was when one of us was in the loo (which could have done with some toilet roll). But after that it was spot on – humouring my attempted jokes about putting MDMA in ice cream (I don’t like ice cream), being attentive and trying to advise on the impossible.

Once we paid, we each received a 25% off voucher. For the next time we come. There won’t be a next time. Not because this isn’t a very good restaurant, but because life is short, I have another 119 places on my roast dinner to-do list and there are so many other places in London to experience. So if anyone wants my 25% off voucher, then drop me a line and I’ll stick it in the post to you. First come, first served. I don’t have that many readers so I’ll probably still have it come November.

All that was left was to enjoy the pharmaceutical stimulants and find some not-so-beautiful people in Fulham.

Next Sunday I should be back, and I am going anywhere but south-west London.

Bar & Block, King’s Cross

Air conditioning.

You know when you do those Facebook word clouds at the end of the year to see which words you have most used? (and to give some dodgy app you have never heard of access to your whole timeline and then you wonder why you have offered friend requests to 50 ladyboys in Thailand).

I get the usual words that you all probably use lots – love, think, beer, lesbians, roast dinner, gravy, rimming, etc. But ‘air’ and ‘conditioning’ would also feature prominently. For I used to work in an office without air conditioning, which would reach 31’C in the summer – and sometimes 26’C even in the depths of winter. So I appreciate air conditioning.

Therefore when I walked into Bar & Block near King’s Cross yesterday, and was met by the cooling tones of their air conditioning on the hottest day of the year so far, my soul was filled with a church-like sense of deluded love.

Is now a good time for a Jimmy Savile joke?

So we sat down at a surprisingly quiet restaurant, especially given that it was Father’s Day. Maybe people don’t think about going to King’s Cross for a roast dinner on a Sunday, Bar & Block does seem arguably to be more of an evening venue – it specialising in steaks. Maybe I am about to change your world?

That said, I should have changed your world long ago, such is the depth of my intelligence, insight, writing ability, beauty and penis size. One assumes that you spend all week longing for my pearls of wisdom and the inebriation of my linguistic wonders – oh if only I could eat and review roast dinners every day and be paid for it. One day someone will see my talents.

Not complaining though. I have air conditioning in my new job. And loads of hot women. Now then, now then.

As Bar & Block specialises in steak, the only roast dinner offering they had was the steak roast dinner – and it comes for two people at a rather bargainous price of £13.50. Well, a bargain for London, anyway. You can look at the menu if you want, but surely you are only here for the gravy?

Dinner arrived around 20-25 minutes later, on a drool-inspiring wooden tray. It was immediately clear that we were onto a winner. Except that they gave us the world’s smallest plates. Perhaps not the world’s smallest, but too small to fit a roast dinner on sensibly. Heated plates though, so it was quickly forgiven.

Word of warning – the dinner comes with peas. Thankfully the waitress (yes she had a cute ass) understood my situation and brought the peas out separately in a pot so I didn’t have to go all Donald Trump on her #fakepeas.

So the carrots were roasted. Thin strips of roasted carrot, and pretty much spot on. Around 4-5 each though more for me as my crazy friend is allergic to carrots – of all the things.

The parsnips were tasty. A slightly more nutty taste to them than normal, again nicely roasted, and plentiful.

Also a generous helping of tenderstem broccoli was provided. There was a fair crunch upon delicately placing them within my gob – again expertly cooked.

Sadly not so generous was the excellent cauliflower cheese. So many times cauliflower cheese is just cauliflower cream, but this time there was actual cheddar involved, which was distinctly noticeable. Perhaps even a mature cheddar. Though with just two small florets worth each, it left me internally screaming for more.

The roast potatoes were not quite so up to standard. Shock horror. Pleasing that they had a scattering of herbs on top, and they seemed freshly cooked enough, however still somewhat too al dente inside, and absolutely no freaking trace of crispyness on the outside. Acceptable.

This was however a return to good Yorkshire puddings. Really soft and spongey – and very large too – perfect for sitting meat in. The only minor discretion was that they had not risen quite enough, with next to no crisp on the outside. But though not perfect, this was the best Yorkie….hmmm probably in London so far.

And the beef? Well, you’d expect it to be excellent. It was. Around 5 slices each of exceptionally tender sirloin, medium-rare on the inside with a gorgeously slightly burnt and crisp outside. Tastetastic.

The gravy…existed. A very thin and watery, slightly oily texture – it neither added to or subtracted from the dinner. More was forthcoming upon request, though I’m not entirely sure that there were not more suitable gravy receptacles than very hot metal pots with hot handles.

This was an excellent experience. Very well presented, enough food (I even left one piece of tenderstem broccoli), a charming yet professional waitress – and mostly top notch food, especially the cauliflower cheese and the sirloin beef.

And the price too – just £13.50 each which is truly excellent value when considering the quality. Perhaps it won’t be so quiet on Sundays going forwards!

I am going to give it an 8.34 out of 10. My second-best roast dinner in London so far. Definitely recommended.  I will be going back at some point.

I also had a fine pint of Brooklyn Lager, a reasonably good glass of merlot and a pretty storming brownie.

No definite plan for next weekend yet – I don’t even have a dining partner (so far), though my default pick if nothing/nobody else interesting turns up, reckons it is one of Time Out’s top 5 roast dinners.