The Distillers, Hammersmith

It was a bit of a tricky one this week. The random number generator originally picked out The Duchy Arms in Kennington. Had they had an online booking facility then I probably would have booked it there and then.

I forgot about it, then when I found a dining partner I realised that I should book somewhere. I rang them up and received a voicemail listing their events. Might as well have put a Theresa May speech on for all the information and inspiration that provided. No. No. No. Oh, wrong woman. Where was I?

Oh yeah, I was about to e-mail them then I realised that they would be showing some egg-chasing nonsense, where a bunch of over-sized in-denial homosexuals run around a pitch, kicking an over-sized egg to the other side and then jumping on each other’s backsides, pretending it is all manly. Then repeating in the other direction. Rumour has it that it has descended from a game called rugby which is played around the M62 (that’s in the north of England, folks).

Then the random number generator picked somewhere in Islington, but I couldn’t be arsed to deal with the 7 tube lines that TFL had closed for the weekend and practically having to go to south London to get to Islington. And don’t even suggest the bus.

It then picked a couple that I couldn’t afford and I finally settled on going to The Distiller’s in Hammersmith.

Hammersmith is a confusing area. It has a fair amount of decent pubs yet varying clusters of unimaginative office blocks, some ridiculously busy roads with approximately 425 different pedestrian crossings to get anywhere, along with some depressingly banal small shopping centres – one of which, King’s Mall seemed to be actively falling down.

My opinion of the area probably wasn’t helped by popping into the local Wetherspoon’s for a piss.

Oh yeah and slow people. Fuck me, there were some really slow people walking around – and some people at normal speeds who seemed to have no clue about how to walk in flow – basic ideas like not blocking pavements. And don’t get me started on the horrific heavy rock band on the corner of the street screaming something about war in Afghanistan. Do you remember the days when you used to go into a pub, you’d just get the round in with your mates, start a conversation about what a hero Tony Blair is (pre-immigration #obvs) and how everything will be fantastic when the Tories have been kicked out and bang – some band starts up their infernal racket over the town’s worst PA system, and you are forced to stand there and listen to their raucous drivel until you finish your pint and can move on.

Young people – be thankful.

Thankfully The Distillers was nothing like that. A two-floored pub, though only the ground floor was open. The modern standard exposed brickwork with dark teal paintwork, a lovely oak bar – and some naff cheap wooden tables. Ordering was done at the bar, and prices were about 25% more than advertised on their website (you might want to sort that out if you are reading…and that isn’t the only thing you need to sort out, but more about that later). At least there were 100% more different types of roast on offer than the website suggested – beef, pork, lamb and chicken. There might have been a vegetarian option, but guess what? I don’t care. Suck on my hairy meat-juice nipples.

So instead of the advertised £12.00 and £13.50 from the menu on the website, prices were around £16.00. I paid £15.50 for the chicken…I really cannot remember what price the others were. On the bright side – NO SERVICE CHARGE! Despite the fact that the young lady did exactly the same as what happens at most places that add a 12.5% service charge; brought our food, brought extra gravy, asked us to lie about how good everything was and took our plates away.

Dinner took around 10 minutes to heat up in the microwave, and we were ready to munch.

The carrots were just very, very ordinary. Absolutely nothing I can say about them. Please can I have a break from writing about carrots? Maybe I should just become a normal food blogger?

Several parsnips were on the plate and looked so anaemic that I considered calling an ambulance for them. Surprisingly, they were not only edible and soft enough to chew, they were also really tasty.

There was a small handful of kale which was utterly unremarkable and deserves no comment, good or bad.

Sadly the cauliflower cheese was remarkable and not in a good way. I do not leave food. I guess this is because as a northerner, I am expecting a resumption of World War 2 rationing like the good old days when there were no immigrants because nobody ever moved to this country in the whole history of mankind until Tony Blair came along. I know what you are thinking, but before you say it, the Romans were a myth invented by William Shakespeare – all fake news, look it up on INFOWARS.COM. Romans did not exist. OK?

So the cauliflower cheese was cold. It was like it had been just taken out of the fridge. Cold, limp and overly creamy. I was at a pub once with a good friend, and we had just got talking to these two cute German girls. And then he told them that his grandfather had been to Germany when he was younger. They enquired, interested in his tale. To which he replied, “SPITFIRE!!!” and made noises of bombs falling. Being ugly is not the only reason I very rarely get laid.

Which in a very tenuously-connected way is me saying that for the first time since I can last remember, I actually left some food. The shame of it.

See the bright, shiny object on the photograph? Yes part of that is down to the inability of my 25 year-old Samsung SCH-V200 to take photographs decently (as well as generally do anything that you might want a mobile phone to do within a shorter period of time than queuing to send a letter at your local Post Office), but also these objects were some kind of new light source, otherwise known as the Legume Formally Known As Roast Potato. They had not been roasted anywhere near long enough, though edible they were very al dente on the inside, and smooth on the outside. It was a nice tasting oil that they had been roasted in.

Antithetically, the chicken had been roasted for far too long. Chicken and pork tend to be the safer bets when you are unsure of somewhere, and in a quiet pub with pretty much no tables reserved other than ours, I was a little wary. Now, in terms of taste it was really good. The chef had really got the ‘roast chicken’ taste spot on. The crispy skin was awesome. Sadly it had been cooked too long, and then clearly also left under heat lamps for quite some time too. The result was a particularly dry breast portion.

I had one of my most regular acquaintances with me, who has probably been to a good 15-20 roasts with me. He ordered the lamb and said it was probably the worst meat he’s had when on explorations with me. It was way overdone, looked really quite horrid, and tasted of charcoal. Apparently the edible portion was really tasty. Alas, far too much charcoal, skin and fat to make enough of it edible.

Time for an advertisement break.



It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. The Yorkshire pudding was close to excellence. Well constructed with a nice eggy taste to it – stable walls and soft on the bottom.

And the gravy was pretty good. Absolutely nowhere near enough so we asked for more. The world’s smallest gravy boat arrived, not even enough for a southerner. We asked for more. It still wasn’t enough for the dryness of the chicken. It was nothing more than a fairly ordinary gravy, it had a bit of consistency to it – yet it certainly met requirements in terms of quality.

Definitely not one of the best roast dinners that I’ve ever had. And I told the waitress that when she asked…well I told her it was mostly good. She asked what was wrong with it, and I said “the chicken was…” and she finished my sentence off and went to tell the chef my feedback. Who apparently is a very nice guy…at least he didn’t come running out of the kitchen with a meat cleaver.

Believe it or not, someone who is a chef contacted me the other day and told me that my work inspired him to try harder. I think he was drunk, but still. I don’t actually want to upset anyone, unless it was a really miserable experience – hello Florentine. I just want to help people find a good roast dinner, and hopefully inspire some improvements. And boy, this roast could be improved.

So, scores on the door for review forty-four? Well it wasn’t without redeeming features – the yorkie and parsnips were very good, the gravy good and the chicken at least had a good taste to it. Alas, there were several areas for improvement – and I am so glad that I didn’t order the lamb. I’m giving it a 6.42 out of 10.

By the way, floppy haired lad didn’t really advertise on here. Do you seriously think anyone would spend money advertising on this shitty blog? “Oh yeah, lets advertise our product/service on a blog about roast dinners with various references to drugs, sex, lesbians, transsexuals – that will really fit our brand”. SPITFIRE.

I’ll be back next week, and the plan is for a trip to Islington. Get prancing.

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