In life we should learn from our lessons. We should all have learnt by now not to vote for socialist political parties…oh crap there goes my London audience. And I should have learnt not to eat roast dinners in the Roast Triangle of Doom. Yet this week, the random number generator instructed me to go to Balham Bowls Club. In Balham. In the Roast Triangle of Doom. Thank fuck I have a good following in Chicago.
I mean, I was due a bad roast dinner, just as much as we are due a bad Prime Minister. Well, we are getting a bad Prime Minister whoever Putin decides upon.
Time after time, this triangle has delivered more disappointment than…hmmm maybe I should try a non-political analogy…more disappointment than sex with a goat? No I haven’t worked out why I have an anomalously high amount of readers in Chicago.
That said, trends are there to be broken – maybe socialism might actually work somewhere one day without ending in total economic crisis, societal breakdown and dictatorship. Maybe I’ll get a good roast dinner in the Roast Triangle of Doom. I am on a good run and my Dad has an allotment.
Balham Bowls Club has a charmingly antique feel to it, with old wooden panelling and ancient furnishings – and seems as though it has been untouched for a good century. It’s a really large venue too with a variety of rooms – we were seated in the main restaurant area which was bright and open – not the claustrophobic feel of last week’s venue. It was a quirky venue that I imagine the pre-Claphamesque residents of the local area appreciate.
It is also one of the venues in the knowingly quirky Antic Group of pubs, so I had a scroll of the venues they own, wondering how many others that I might have had a roast dinner in – surely a few? I was about to conclude none – though I’ve certainly drunk in a few, when right at the bottom of the list appeared East Dulwich Tavern. Oh crap. I scored that a 5.05. Totally ominous isn’t it?
Except that Balham Bowls Club’s roast dinners have won awards. So obviously going to be great, after all. Also worth noting that going on call is not free money – this is as far as I got to after 3 evenings of attempting to write this review. Damn inner socialist fooling me again. Yay free stuff.
On the menu was chicken supreme, leg of lamb, pork belly, ribeye of beef and duck leg – an admirably decent selection being offered, especially the addition of duck which is pretty damn rare.
I needed more meat than I expected from duck and I wasn’t quite sure how chicken supreme would work on a roast dinner…would that mean no gravy? I wasn’t willing to risk it. Plus leg of lamb is normally delicious, so I went for that – keenly priced at £16.50.
Our roasts took a while to arrive, maybe 35 minutes or so whilst I watched the young lady who’s job seemed to be purely to wait at the serving hatch and take roast dinners to people – an admirable example of Adam Smith’s Division of Labour theory. 35 minutes, however, was too long for my dear accomplice who was on the hangry side of hungry, and for me as my dear accomplice was on the hangry side of hungry.
Shall we start with the gravy this week? You know what that means, don’t you? Yep, AWARD WINNING ROASTS served here and it may well qualify for an award at the end of 2019 if I can be bothered to write some.
Do you like gravy that tastes somewhere between red cabbage and burnt red wine? I don’t. It wasn’t quite road resurfacing tar but it was reasonably horrid to taste. It wasn’t to the point where I couldn’t eat the food – it wasn’t an inedible gravy. It was just really sweet – like putting beetroot sauce in a bacon sandwich.
Speaking of red cabbage, there was a mercifully small pile to eat – just two bites which is about my limit, and it was really punchy.
I guess if Adam Smith was alive today he might study my writing about carrots every week and how I have impounded my creativity upon a menial repetitive task that I do every week. It was a good effort – a whole roasted carrot, sliced vertically. If only it didn’t taste of gravy.
The cabbage was cabbage. Savoy cabbage – I was neither here nor there about it.
The parsnip looked ill. I’ve no idea how they got it to look like that – it was fairly tasty yet rubbery in texture. Oh here we go again, time to load up my work laptop…
Phew…false alarm. We ordered kubernetes and cheese as an extra side to share. Possibly the highlight of the roast – it was especially tasty when eaten directly from the bowl, cheesy and nicely grilled on top. Cauliflower perfectly cooked – this was seriously decent cauliflower cheese. The only problem was the gravy.
Now, if the only problem with the Yorkshire pudding was the gravy, then we could hold hands and sing Christmas carols to Brexit Party Limited supporters that given their hero loads of money and everything would be fine.
Of course, the gravy isn’t the only issue that comes to mind – the main one being that the chef had made an attempt to make the Yorkshire pudding represent a work of modern art.
By which I mean it had a taste and texture similar to the above work of art – yes it was doing its best to replicate a cardboard box, a trick that McDonalds chicken nuggets have managed profitably for many years.
Also one of the kids I went to school with got caught having sex with a goat once. Possibly not the best segue ever.
The London standard of three roast potatoes were supplied and were a bit of a mixed bunch. Quite crispy – one was rather “cooked earlier” in feel, the other two pretty decent and they tasted like good quality potatoes – Maris Pipers or something similar.
Finally, the leg of lamb. This was really tasty. Pretty much perfectly cooked, nicely rare, some gooey fatty bits in there…a decent amount of a really decent leg of lamb. My accomplice was not especially enamoured by her beef – finding it fiddly and fatty.
Balham Bowls Club did some things really very well – in particular the lamb and cauliflower cheese which were both not far from gorgeous. Or they would have been, had they not been infected by the gravy.
Some people might actually like their gravy to be really sweet and taste like burnt red wine. It wasn’t inedible, it wasn’t disgusting, but it seriously impaired my enjoyment of the meal.
Good gravy makes a roast and hides its faults. Bad gravy ruins a roast and makes you wonder what could have been. This was bad gravy.
Last week I wanted to lick the plate clean of gravy. This Sunday I’d rather lick Boris Johnson’s arse – though there seems to be rather a queue. Oooh Brexit is the best thing ever, let’s Get Brexit Done, forget I ever believed in remaining in the EU, oh and can I have a job in your cabinet please? Maybe the chicken supreme wouldn’t have come with gravy…
Exactly what award did it win?
It is worth repeating that some things at Balham Bowls Club were really good. The leg of lamb was excellent as was the cauliflower cheese. Although I went home still hungry, there were these moments of joy. The venue was pleasant and curiously decorated, and the beer choice was good – I’d quite happily go back for drinks if I was in the area.
The gravy wasn’t the only disappointment as the Yorkshire pudding is definitely in competition for the worst yorkie of London 2019 award – though it does have stiff competition. Everything else bordered somewhere between good and indifferent. Service was fairly inattentive though at least there was no service charge.
Given how much the gravy put a downer on this, I’m scoring it a 5.88 out of 10. My accomplice scored it “no higher than a 6”, if I recall correctly. Or maybe those were my original words. Decent gravy then it would have been in the high 6’s, maybe low 7’s.
Maybe my Dad’s allotment being flooded was a sign.
No review next week as I’m out of the country. Going to a vegan retreat in Portugal.
Balham Bowls Club, Balham
Tube Lines: Northern
Fare Zone: Zone 3
Loved & Loathed
Loved: The leg of lamb was excellent as was the cauliflower cheese.
Loathed: Gravy tasted somewhere between red cabbage and burnt red wine. Yuck. Cardboard yorkie and mixed roasties too.