Blacklock, Covent Garden

It’s my birthday and I’ll roast where I want to. Yes, welcome to yet another review of Blacklock – but this time in Covent Garden.

What you looking at?

Sculpture with a cigarette in its arse
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

It’s my blog, it’s my birthday and if I want to review the same small chain for a third time then I bloody well will do.

Besides, who knows how much longer this blog will be legally allowed to run for, as the Online Safety Bill creeps its way through parliament – I’ve long lost the will to keep up to date with the latest changes, though the last time I scared myself by reading a legal review of it, I discovered that I’d have to pay fees to register my website every year with Ofcom, spend a lot of time doing admin for this registration, take ID from you lot before you can read it, and also not write anything “annoying”.

LOL. And don’t even think about seeing any lingerie models again.

The latest bullshit to be inserted into the Online Safety Bill is that showing small boats crossing the English Channel in a positive light would be deemed illegal content.

So, in order to celebrate this blog’s continued existence and a little fuck you to a government so corrupt that a roast dinner reviewer with a life-size cardboard cut-out of Margaret Thatcher (you know this, right?) is actually considering voting Labour, I now would like to announce that this is now Roast Dinners In London And Small Boat Appreciation Society.

Oooh look at those small boats. Anyone want to buy some crystal meth?

Image from diamond geezer under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

I’ll Cry If I Want To

So back in August – yes 5 whole months ago as some nobhead with a blog keeps telling everyone to go to Blacklock, I wrote to Blacklock in Covent Garden to ask if I could book a table for 14 people.

Of course, nobody declined my invite at first, but then people dropped out, new people were added, then more people dropped out – like…are your children really more important than roast dinners? I guess as a childless middle-aged, fat bloke looking only for a Spanish wife that loves roast dinners and Romanian minimal techno in a country with not that many Spanish women, this is something I may never understand.

On the bright side, I did see an artist’s impression of my future wife telling me to lick her feet.

de Goya's impression of my future wife
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Pretty sure that was de Goya’s intention there anyway.

My intention was to have the best roast dinner possible for my birthday, with at least some of my beloved friends around a table. Alas, when we arrived, we were shown to two tables. With a wall in between. Two very separate tables that might as well have been in different restaurants. Interesting.

Granted that last year, the place I had booked for my birthday roast had a fire and closed for the day – so I was one up on that situation. And one up on my lockdown birthday. I was informed that it would be two tables next to each other when I booked – I just thought that there would be a little space between them rather than a huge clunking wall, which looked possible on their layout to me. But maybe I broke Blacklock’s systems by attempting 14 people.

I’ll Roast Where I Want To

Blacklock, Covent Garden, Sunday Roast Menu
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So you know the score by now. All in for £24.00 – which is beef rump, leg of lamb and pork loin – or you can have them separately.

When our rather brusque waitress enquired whether we were ready to order, I checked whether the other half of our party were ready to order too – I was told that they had already ordered.

Given that I wasn’t too convinced about the beef at Blacklock in Soho (which I possibly slightly over-rated in retrospect), I eschewed the idea of the all in, and went for pork, priced at £19.00 – which remains pretty exceptionally priced, considering the quality, quantity and location – London seems to very much be back in terms of being a tourist location, as my erroneous decision to walk through Leicester Square on Chinese New Year day proved on the way.

Image from Geoff Henson under license CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED

Oooh look, a lifeboat that might rescue someone drowning which I should clarify for the sake of the future internet in the UK is a very bad thing. Bad small boat. Bad people on small boat doing very bad things like saving lives.

Oooh look, a roast dinner at Blacklock. Another very bad thing.

Blacklock, Covent Garden, Pork Sunday Roast
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

Obviously I’ll start with the bits that you cannot see until the photograph later, which is the carrots. Roasted, soft in the middle, crispy kind of charred around some of the edges. Good carrots, but I knew this already.

Then the only other vegetable on the plate was tenderstem broccoli, which had a crunch and a rather liberal salting – I approved.

I’ll Boat Where I Want To

Blacklock, Covent Garden, Pork Roast Dinner.
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

The roast potatoes were pretty good, properly fluffy in the middle but mostly lacking crispy sides – better than the London standard but Blacklock can do better. Gosh, almost a criticism.

The Yorkshire pudding was well structured though arguably too crispy. With enough gravy (and Blacklock do actually supply sufficient gravy even for Lord Gravy) it softened somewhat, but you wouldn’t get too excited with it.

If you are getting the feeling that I’m not as excited about Blacklock as previous visits, then that is just about par so far. However, the pork loin was excellent – a slight smokiness to it, some real succulence to it and delightful trimmings of fat. The small pieces of crackling not quite so excellent, being more crunch and less goo than ideal, but was definitely an addition.

Finally, the gravy. Well. It’s good, you know that. Maybe you could argue a tad too salty, but it still packs a punch. Can you feel the however? There is a however. It was rather thin. Previous visits to Blacklock had seen heavenly gravy – I guess there is some expectation management issues here, as this was still way better than most of the nonsense I get served, but it wasn’t quite “Blacklock”.

This wasn’t the only thing that wasn’t to the high standards I expect from Blacklock…

I’ll Moan If I Want To

One of my friends is a vegan. Yeah, I know that Blacklock isn’t exactly the most appealing restaurant if you are vegan, but both myself and my friend had checked beforehand, independently, that they could handle a vegan guest. This shouldn’t be too difficult in 2023 even if it was apparently the first time a vegan had gone to Blacklock.

It certainly shouldn’t be a reason for someone to be made to feel uncomfortable.

The service wasn’t great overall, one person in particular had “I don’t want to be here” vibes and I really feel awkward calling it out because I get it, sometimes I’m just not in the mood to deal with people, sometimes I turn up to meetings 2-3 minutes late on purpose so I can avoid the chit-chat, sometimes I just don’t want to be friendly.

Again, maybe it is expectation management – previous visits to Blacklock in Soho or Shoreditch, the service has been beyond welcoming and I’ve been made to feel like part of the family – maybe I wouldn’t have noticed the curtness in the average place I go. Interestingly one member of waiting staff did volunteer to me that Blacklock in City had much better service than they had.

Another thing – they didn’t check if anyone had any allergies.

I’m not entirely sure what the outcome of the vegan roast debacle was as I was unaware of the situation due to being on the other table – I think it was a lack of vegan gravy (which we were informed they could cater for beforehand) and after some curt comment from waiting staff they managed to procure some.

I did, however, receive an unprompted apology on the way out from front of house for the mix-up over the vegan roast.

I’ll Blacklock If I Want To

Am I moaning too much? Am I expecting too high a standard? Have I mentioned Brexit yet?

Certainly, Blacklock in Covent Garden isn’t singing like Blacklock in Soho or Shoreditch are.

However, the roast dinner was still excellent – it is the best I’ve had this year so far (albeit it is only January) and I’ll probably have few better ones this year. But I will have better.

The pork impressed the most with its succulence – nothing (on the plate) was anywhere near average – the roast potatoes could have been crispier, the Yorkshire pudding could have been softer, the gravy could have been thicker, but like I said a couple of times, Blacklock in Covent Garden isn’t quite matching the standards of the other Blacklocks (from my experiences) – but it still far surpasses most roast dinners served in London.

Scores around the table, sorry, tables, were four 8’s, an 8.2, three 8.5’s, a 9 and…a 5.5 out of 10. Everyone that had the white chocolate cheesecake was totally in love with it – though it came without the fruit compote – apparently they used to do pear and ginger, but nobody liked it compared to the strawberry compote so they just stopped doing it. Instead of doing the strawberry compote that everyone liked. I shrug my shoulders. Still possibly the best dessert in London, though I don’t often have dessert.

My score, with a little bit taken off for the service, is an 8.17 out of 10.

Blacklock, like Britain, is still wonderful – fingers crossed it isn’t following Britain on the decline.

I’ll be back next week. Expectations are much lower for the coming roast dinner. And it is a proper mission away. And there is no Metropolitan line. And it will be back to Dry January. Fingers crossed I don’t need a small boat.

Some Spanish painting.
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023
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Blacklock, Covent Garden

Station: Covent Garden

Tube Lines: Piccadilly

Fare Zone: Zone 1

Price: £19.00

Rating: 8.17

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: The pork loin was excellent - a slight smokiness to it, some real succulence to it and delightful trimmings of fat

Loathed: Service wasn't to expectations, on the curt side - gravy was thinner than usual though still very good.

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