The Dean Swift, Tower Bridge

Any idea how I should start this blog post?

No, me neither.

I guess I should start with a thank you to everyone that nominated and/or voted in the People’s Roast Vote. Hopefully you found it no more boring or annoying than I did. The result was hardly a surprise, The Alexandra in Wimbledon not only has one of the best social media presences and a ton of fans, but apparently does a cracking roast dinner – so I keep getting told.

Obviously I keep my identity secret as I want my reviews to be a reflection of what anyone else would experience, but if anyone sees a fat, ugly bloke with hairy nipples, a leopard print thong sticking out, possibly with rolls of fat splurging out of an ill-fitting pastel pink crop-top, that could be me.

Also, apologies for having the temerity to have a week off last week – I was swapping roasts for goulash, and also looking for a Christmas present for my girlfriend.

Don’t worry, my girlfriend is still imaginary.

Arafat is inside Bin Laden, then Saddam is inside that…there were two more inside but I didn’t dare go any further. Just to clarify before Tommy Robinson sets his Poppy-nazis onto me, I didn’t buy one. Though only because I don’t have a girlfriend. Anyone seen the near-million pound mansion that convicted-fraudster, Tommy Robinson, bought recently? Pity the racist suckers that sent him money, a ha ha ha ha.

Yeah I’ve still no idea how to start this blog post. I know I should probably delete what I’ve written so far.

By the way, in case you haven’t seen the Queen recently, this is a reminder of what she looks like:

Having managed to get back from the City of Culture on time, without the train turning into a sauna, freezer or catching fire, I made my way over to the The Dean Swift near Tower Bridge. A random number generator selection – though anything non-central was discarded prior to this selection.

More importantly than anything else I’ve mentioned, it is in the same small chain of pubs as The Old Red Cow, which was for a long time my number one roast dinner in London – and is still number two on the league table. A charming, top-quality roast dinner with excellent gravy – after a weekend admiring the quality of public houses in the north of England, I was dreaming of some proper northern gravy.

Managed to use that photograph in two different blogs now. Yes, I do have other blogs. No, I’m not telling you what they are.

The Dean Swift is on a corner in a residential area, a short walk away from the magnificent Tower Bridge.

A staircase suggested a second floor though I rarely saw anyone use it – downstairs was relatively small, around 10-12 tables so quite cosy – it isn’t the largest pub. It was also bloody warm – perils of winter heating levels when it is still pretty mild outside, not to mention the acoustics of mainly soft rock – anathema to my minimal techno trained ears. Far too warm and with music playing that I actively dislike, isn’t the best way to endear me – of course, that could be heaven if you are not obese and don’t want to ban guitars.

We were offered the choice of two tables for our reservation, so I chose the one near the door – which was handily also the one without people occupying the seats. On the table next to us was either boyfriend/girlfriend – or perhaps a Tinder date, maybe a second/third date – I’m guessing not a long relationship as not only was she eating fish and chips on a Sunday, but he had to explain to her what mushy peas were.

Our table was sticky, but the barman wiped two-thirds of it for us – the barmen…sorry…barpeople that were male, were also providing table service – and seemed rather busy.

On the menu was beef rump (£18.50), lemon thyme and garlic chicken – with meatballs (plural) stuffing (£15.50), or shoulder of lamb (£18.95). There was also a veggie wellington if you are that kind of person, but unfortunately for me, they had run out. Damn. One day I will choose the vegetarian.

In a similar fashion to when you wake up at a festival and cannot decide whether to have a line of ket or a line of coke, I couldn’t make my mind up between beef or chicken. My accomplice was struggling through the same dilemma. The solution was to order one of each, and share.

Dinner took around 20-25 minutes to arrive, enough time to slurp my way through a pint of craft lager and require a second. One thing I did particularly like was the beer choice – not an Amstel in sight.

My first impression was that the beef looked really good – having concluded that it was my least-favourite meat recently (also fucking awful for the environment but lets pretend we don’t know that – I recycle lots of plastic anyway so that balances that out), and I wished I had just ordered the beef.

The carrots were horizontally sliced like my mother would do – so buttery that they almost seemed as creamy as a teenager watching Babestation.

There was a handful of curly kale, which tasted really nice when absorbing the gravy.

Then there was some yellow thing. It wasn’t turnip, I don’t think it was swede as it wasn’t even vaguely swede. Maybe a squash but it was too bland for that. Just a bit odd. Like me, according to Henry Bolton, which in case you don’t remember was one of UKIP’s 49 leaders over the last couple of years.

Too normal for UKIP are you, Henry?

My roast potatoes were smaller than my accomplices – smaller than the stuffing ball (singular) though two of them were just as spherical. That said, they were roasted. They were crispy on the outside and verging fluffy on the inside. Had this been before London’s Great Crispy Roast Potato Drought ended a couple of months then I would have been amazed. They were good roast potatoes nonetheless – even if at that size there should have been 6 of them.

The Yorkshire pudding was suffering a bit from heatlampitis – whilst nicely constructed and edible enough, it was too brittle and crispy around the edge – though not enough to stop me eating it. The bum was nice and soft, if a little greasy.

We shared the chicken by myself having the leg, which in terms of construction was nothing unusual – I’ve had plumper chicken but it was decent. It was memorable in terms of taste, and actually tasted of lemon, as per the menu description. I had some of the breast too, a tad dry – just a tad. Overall pretty decent chicken.

As I suspected on arrival, I enjoyed the beef much more. It was rightly pink in the middle, and around the edge had more texture and a vague kinda burnt-end taste. It was reasonably tender – though definitely required the steak knife and a little more chewing than a fillet steak would. It has certainly made me reassess my recent antipathy to beef roast dinners – one of the best examples of beef on a roast dinner that I’ve experienced in London – though I’ve had a lot of poor ones.

Let’s not forget the meatballs stuffing, which consisted of one meatball. Meatball not meatballs. Basically it was good sausage roll meat – but whatever happened to the idea of sage and onion stuffing? Bring back the glory days. Vote Brexit and get sage and onion stuffing. Or some kind of stuffing. Have I really made it this far before mentioning Brexit?

I had mixed anticipation about the liquid accompanying the Sunday roast – it was advertised as a red wine jus, and anyone who has read more than a couple of reviews knows my feelings on jus. However, date boy used his finger to mop up the jus, several times. And as far as jus goes, it was pretty good – worse than having Bisto, but better than almost every jus I’ve had. Quite thick too, but at times too overpowering, too strong. It took a good 30-40 minutes and a couple of mints to dispose of the taste.

I think that is a seal of approval from myself. I certainly approve of any girlfriend that lets you lick the plate clean in public, even if only via finger. Did I say fingering? No I did not.

Getting the inevitable comparison out of the way, it wasn’t as good as The Old Red Cow.

Everything was done to a good standard, and the beef rump was really quite excellent. Service was decent, not enough to be deserving of the enforced 12.5% service charge, but we are even more helpless with the advance of service charges than we are Brexit.

I’m giving this a 7.78 out of 10.

Next week I have no idea what I’m doing yet. But I’ll be out on duty.

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