Hull…we have a problem.
No, not that kind of problem. During lockdown, my parents had one of those Blacklock at Home roast dinner kits, and were totally enthralled by it – as they should have been. My Dad even refused to eat beef for some time afterwards (well…at least a week) because he knew that he would just compare it to Blacklock.
And then they said, “when lockdown is over, we’ll get the train to London and you can take us to Blacklock”. Erm…this isn’t how Roast Dinner Club works.
We select from the to-do list, we select by random number generator and we don’t go to the same place twice. I’ve already reviewed Blacklock.
But remembering the disappointment that my mother had when the British Transport Police called her when I was 13, I couldn’t really resist. And I had previously reviewed the one in Shoreditch – so I could feasibly review Blacklock in Soho also. Right?
My blog. My rules. And rules are there to be broken. Oh the joyous freedom of not wearing a mask when I go for a wee in a pub.
Let’s talk about roasts, baby
Yes it was the annual check-up by my parents to make sure that I haven’t enquired any more drug habits since the previous year, and to enquire about the possibility of grandchildren. Alas, the beauty that they see in their son is not shared by those on Spanish Tinder.
Maybe they could think of this blog as a child? I do wake up early in the morning, to feed it some words. I work hard all week to be able to provide for it on a Sunday…I mean…how could you review a restaurant without actually paying for a meal?
And I have all kinds of logistic issues to overcome that are even more difficult than opening a condom wrapper for the first time. This week, the Metropolitan line didn’t start working until midday – which made my 1pm booking at Blacklock in Soho a tad squeaky bum ish.
But a tube train did turn up after around 15-20 minutes wait, and I excitedly announced in the family WhatsApp group that I might actually be on time. Of course, the driver shortly after announced that there was a problem with the signals. That felt proper peak 2019.
You know, I came up with a bit of a genius idea when I was inside Blacklock. Blacklock Singles Night. Because why would you want to date someone that doesn’t love Blacklock? Would also give you some security that that you wouldn’t end up dating someone that might turn vegan…or worse…try to turn you into a vegan.
Speaking of vegans, my manager said he looked forward to reading my blog after my one to one on Monday…yes both my parents and VEGAN boss are aware of this blog…yes my parents still love me and yes I still have a job…have you tried employing software engineers in this market? I could probably start a blog about Nazis and still wouldn’t get sacked because somehow I’m actually quite good at writing code.
Speaking of work, I was a bit bored on Friday morning, and made this:
Genius, or what? Well, I thought I was hilarious anyway. If my boss is actually reading and I assume that this celebration of meat-eating means you are not, thank you in advance for my coming pay rise this autumn.
Let’s talk about you and meat
Ahhh Blacklock. It’s a bit like coming home really…or maybe best said as a homecoming as I do not want that bloody Atomic Kitten song back in my head.
This was my first trip to the Soho enterprise, which my Dad informed me used to be a brothel. How does he know?
Blacklock in Soho is pretty much as I imagined – stripped back brick walls painted faint white, some wood panelling, classic wooden tables and chairs (albeit mine was a tad wonky) and some chalkboards advertising their wares…oh crap, just remembered that not using the word blackboard makes me a Marxist now….I’ll let my life-sized cardboard cut-out of Margaret Thatcher know.
And the menu was just as I remembered, except they don’t seem to have put their prices up. £18.00 for the best roast dinner in London? In central London? In Soho?
Sure, it was necessary to also add cauliflower cheese but even the sides are only £4.00. Can they not just put their prices up to fund a Blacklock in Hull to solve my parental visit problem? Hull is where my parents live, just in case you haven’t worked it out. Yes I escaped at 18 thanks to Tony Blair allowing any thick, lazy, drunken arsehole like me to attend university and get loads of free money in loans. Maths Studies. A ha ha ha ha what a load of crap. Yeah I failed. Blame Howard Marks. No, not the co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management.
Onto the menu…gosh my Dad will actually read this – I was just trying to fit in with the cool kids at university that wanted to be fund managers, I didn’t really inhale.
So I quite fancied the lamb, as I just don’t quite enjoy beef rump as much as other cuts of beef – but listening to my parents eulogising over the beef, remembering the gorgeous beef in the at home box, and then asking the waiter for his favourite, which was the beef – I didn’t quite have the mental strength to stick with my original thoughts. I inhaled and went for the beef. Fucking peer pressure.
Let’s talk about all the gravy
Our meals arrived really quite quickly, it seemed like only around 10 minutes from taking our order – but I wasn’t counting. Perhaps my double hangover and time spent on a slow tube train meant everything else seemed faster than reality.
And, of course, my photography in a somewhat dimly lit basement isn’t going to be good.
Can you work out what the vegetables are just from my photography? Probably not but if you guessed carrots, you were correct. And the flavour of the carrots was brought out beautifully, roasted softly with a hint of charring, replete with tons of herbs.
Hang on – my sister takes better photographs than I do. She’s still single FYI.
They don’t look like carrots now though, do they? But they really tasted like them. Let’s move on before you conclude that I’m still a thick, lazy, drunken arsehole. The first person I met at university apparently said, “if they are all like him I’m quitting university”.
I thought the cabbage was a little too tough, and it was quite like a chore to eat it – yet at the same time the smoky flavour was enjoyable, so I’m a bit pulled in both directions here.
And the bad jus
As I mentioned earlier, we paid £4.00 extra for the pots of cauliflower cheese and they were worth every penny. The stickiness of the sauce was spot on as there was no gravy pollution, the cheesiness was high, and the crispness on top gave that texture you desire. But maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t to the levels of superb that I remember the cauliflower cheese being from the Blacklock At Home box.
Going back to my photographs because, well, I put in at least two minutes of effort to take them.
The roast potatoes were close to perfection – maybe you could argue that they were even a tad too crispy if you were really, really fucking pedantic (erm…), but these three irregular polyhedrons of crispness were pure sexual joy.
Alas, you didn’t need to be a pedant to conclude that the Yorkshire pudding was too crispy – too crispy and somewhat burnt tasting too. That said, it was edible, the gravy softened the bottom somewhat and it wasn’t too far down the path of disappointment. But I think that is the first time I can say that something at/from Blacklock disappointed.
The beef rump was good – rare – too rare for my mother who kept off-loading some onto me, a good reason for me to have chosen lamb or pork in the first place. But also, it wasn’t as tender as the beef on the at home box, nor as tasty. Though I enjoyed it – I definitely should have ordered lamb, or pork.
Ooooh, this isn’t going to number one, is it? Of course, one major problem are my expectations from the previously exceptional standards of both my prior visit and the at home box – and again, I felt that the gravy didn’t quite meet previous standards.
It was still excellent, but just didn’t quite have the same level of flavour as before (like I can fucking remember Friday night let alone two years ago) but just feel that it wasn’t quite as superb. I stress again though that this is still a very high standard – if I had gravy as thick and tasty as this every week, well, there would be no need for this blog. This is still very good gravy.
That we eat
I was a little worried before I went to Blacklock in Soho that I’d end up with the same restaurant at number one, and number two.
Now I’m a little worried that I’m slightly dissing the boss of roast dinners in London. Will I still be taken seriously if I rate Blacklock in Soho as 10th best or something? Was it me? Was the roast dinner actually amazing and I was just off form? Maybe my hangover and tiredness, or the beauty of the Michelin Star meal the night before took the shine off my taste buds?
If I compare to Blacklock in Shoreditch (2019 visit) or the Blacklock At Home, then I’m almost a tiny bit disappointed – because expectations are that high. But if I compare to anywhere else this year, all the very average roast dinners with dreadful roast potatoes then, of course, I’m delighted.
Let’s get this straight. Gravy was excellent, roast potatoes were sex, cauliflower cheese was top notch and the carrots had their flavour brought out so, so well. Oh, and the service – well, actually it did feel a little rushed – we’d finished eating within an hour of sitting down, and within a few minutes of finishing they were already offering dessert.
I do think one of the people serving us was a little shy and inexperienced, but the other two were absolute gentlemen and really had that Blacklock pizazz about them that you expect – one even went to the local Sam Smith’s pub to get my dad a pint of bitter. Now that is wow service.
Oh and the cheesecake…
Absolutely amazingly gorgeous still.
Do you want to see a nipple?
Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about Blacklock.
Yes, apparently that is a nipple.
I probably won’t have a better roast dinner this year…but I could. We probably won’t ever have a better Prime Minister than Margaret Thatcher…but we could. I know the chances are that you are not keen on Margaret Thatcher (perils of a London blog)…but she might have been a tad more interested in following the science…a bit more interested in data than slogans? OK I give up, but I still have a cardboard cut-out of her and if you have any intention of sleeping with me then you’ll need to get used to that.
There’s lots to love about Blacklock – this roast dinner was mostly excellent, the whole experience was mostly excellent and we even got a super close flash of lightning and crack of thunder when we left – and I love a thunderstorm almost as much as a roast dinner.
I’m scoring it an 8.48 out of 10. Which still makes it the 11th best roast dinner in London.
Scores from my parents were 8.70 and 8.80, score from my sister who accompanies me for most roast dinners was 8.50.
Not sure where I’m going this Sunday as there is some confusion being caused by guests and their location demands. But there will be a roast. Alas, it won’t be Blacklock as it really is now fully reviewed.
Or is it?
Station: Piccadilly Circus
Tube Lines: Bakerloo, Piccadilly
Fare Zone: Zone 1
Loved & Loathed
Loved: Gravy was excellent, roast potatoes were sex, cauliflower cheese was top notch, that cheesecake ohhhhhh...and some outstanding service
Loathed: Yorkshire pudding too crispy and a tad burnt, beef rump was good but not as special as expected.