The Walmer Castle, Notting Hill

Update – 03/10/2018. Apparently David Beckham has bought this place and is going to turn it into a twat farm like Soho House. Oh well. So you might not be able to get a roast here now.

Unless you are neither beautiful or intelligent, you will have seen my interview in The Londonist this week, revealing my inner-most thoughts on roast dinners.

Alas, this means the pressure is on. I have new readers, perhaps as many as 8 new readers. This is my opportunity to make sure I hook them onto crystal meth…I mean hook them onto my wonderful blog, so they are all gagging for more, and crying into their quinoa when they realise that I’m having a week off.

Maybe I need to say something intellectual, something…profound. Yeah that’ll work. Say something profound.

Is it just me that farts more than usual after a roast dinner?

I feel like I have become the modern day Plato. Plato de Roast.

This isn’t going well is it? Might as well start banging on about Brexit.

So you know when you’ve had a couple of cans of White Lightning, and you decide to enter the Euromillions (or just the National Lottery for our Brexit-voting friends, heaven forbid they give yet more money to the EU) at which point you start planning how you are going to spend your winnings?

I feel that after the Londonist interview (awesome publication, by the way), I am now at the stage where I can start planning what to do when I have achieved fame and fortune following my upcoming television series, Roast Dinners Around The World. Or Roast Dinners With Famous People. I’m not sure which to pitch first. Pretty sure Netflix will be up for either, they seem desperate for content.


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Last week I said that I was going to one of London’s coolest neighbourhoods for my Sunday roast. I ended up in Notting Hill. Well…it used to be cool, didn’t it?

Somehow I’d wandered into up-market territory – I even had the temerity to stop outside Michelin-starred The Ledbury to peruse their menu…OK…I looked at the price, and then saw the folk inside looking aghast at the thought that some fat, scruffy bastard in shorts might be entering their dome of serenity.

A few minutes further down Ledbury Road, was my target. The Walmer Castle.

Quite a grand-looking building on he outside, almost as if it was the front of a restored Victorian factory. Maybe it is, but I’m not here to teach you history. Or anything. Inside was typically warm and stuffy, with a variety of seating – we chose a table with two stools near the bar – there was a restaurant part upstairs where our table reservation was, but it was quiet so we chose the slightly more social and convenient environs of being near the bar…and the doggy biscuits.

There were two choices of roast dinner, beef or chicken. I immediately preferred the chicken option – it came with a pig in blanket, stuffing ball and gravy – the beef came with jus, and regular readers will know just how much hatred I have for jus…and this isn’t a rehearsal for a job in the Labour Party.

However, I have rules. Not many, but I do, and one rule is that I don’t have the same meat two weeks in a row unless I have no choice. And last Sunday I had chicken.

[speaking slowly] However… [speaking increasingly quickly] last Sunday I didn’t have a pig in blanket so I clearly wasn’t breaking my rule. So I ordered the pig in blanket roast dinner (£350m a week to the NHS) at a very moderate cost of £13.75.

There may also have been some kind of nut roast on there, but let’s face it, even vegetarians don’t like nut roasts.

Dinner took around 15 minutes to arrive, with almost no gravy on the plate. Wouldn’t get that at The Ledbury.

Starting with the 3 small slices of roasted carrots on my plate. Erm, they were roasted. They were nice. What was that about having to up my game for my new readers?

Pleasingly there were some leeks on there, and you cannot go wrong with leeks. Well, I probably wouldn’t put Theresa May in charge of them, but these were soft (Brexit…this just writes itself sometimes), and more plentiful than the carrots. Seemed like they had been braised, though the menu said roasted vegetables.

There was a portion of red cabbage on the plate. I’m not massively keen on red cabbage – at least this didn’t leak purple juice into the gravy, and it was tasty red cabbage – albeit just not my preference.

Three weeks in a row I’ve had parsnips, and three weeks in a row I have been a little disappointed with them – more anaemic and lacking in flavour than normal. Given that it is summer, I don’t this is necessarily the venue’s fault, I’m just concluding that parsnips should wait until autumn. These were at least plentiful, probably 6-8 on the plate, though when I found one later on, I was like “oh not another parsnip”.

Quite a lot of roast potatoes were supplied, maybe 5. I didn’t count as they weren’t that interesting – they were passable inside though barely roasted on the outside. Calling them roast potatoes is pushing the definition, but I guess at least they were attempted.

It might have been better if the Yorkshire pudding hadn’t been attempted. Last week I didn’t get one, this week I wished I didn’t get one. Sure, I could have left it on the plate but given warnings of only adequate food come March 30th 2019, I don’t feel that I should contribute to food waste. It was burnt, and tasted burnt – it had barely risen (oh hello) and was soaking up all of my absolutely fucking not adequate gravy, despite still being dry. Urgh. Maybe I should aim for Channel 5 instead?

Not an awful lot you can say about a stuffing ball…then again there surely isn’t much you can say about roast dinners but that doesn’t stop me writing paragraphs of dimly-educated nonsense every week. The ball was rather spherical, a little dry and crunchy, but tasted as good as you’d expect a ball of sage and onion to taste. Yummy.

Now for the main part of the dinner, the pig in blanket. I ate this in one bite, which is probably a little silly being a food critic…yeah I’m just a twat with a blog really, I know my place in the world, don’t worry. Hell, I might even have to settle for ITV. The bacon tasted of bacon, and the sausage was a little limp and bland…albeit bacony. Even I’m shaking my head at myself.

The pig in blanket also generously came with half a chicken. A whole breast and thigh/drumstick combination. I was handily impressed – the chicken was generally quite plump, though it was also a tad dry. Perhaps this was because I was running out of beer, and had run out of gravy – the extra gravy hadn’t sufficed. And also eating the Yorkshire pudding with it didn’t help. However this was plump and plentiful chicken, seasoned with plenty of herbs and pepper – fairly consistent with the seasoning throughout.

And finally, the gravy. It was a bit…odd. Firstly there wasn’t enough on the plate. Secondly there wasn’t enough when two small gravy boats arrived (one each). It was runny yet a little gloopy, and had an odd taste. It wasn’t displeasurable – the closest I could come to working it out was a taste of tomato. But I wasn’t convinced of my own conclusion, nor of the gravy itself.

Plenty of highlights but also a few meh’s too. Particularly liked having a stuffing ball and pig in blanket – quantity of food on the plate was also impressive, arguably too much. Lowlight probably the gravy, it was just odd…oh and the burnt yorkie.

Overall this kinda works. Lots of food, good value (for London), nothing especially great but only the yorkie that was that disappointing. I’m giving it a solid 7.29 out of 10.

Does anyone remember L!ve TV? Home of Topless Darts and Tiffany Banister’s Big City Tips – they’d surely have been well up for a fat man roasting, though it would probably have had to include breasts…guess I could handle that, assuming mine are not large enough.



RIP Tiffany.

Ahhh the good old days. Maybe we could bring L!ve TV back with a strong pro-EU slant?

Speaking of coming back, next weekend I’m intending on my most expensive roast dinner of the year so far. If they let me in.


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2 Comments

  1. Stephen mcdonald

    Maybe I’m glad I’m in the antipodes!
    I had a Sunday dinner several weeks ago in a pub in Depford and it was pretty mediocre.
    Keep up the good work – amusing even to non-participants!!

    • Thanks for the kind words – I don’t even have anywhere on my to-do list in Deptford. Guess that isn’t going to change any time soon!

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