It happened. I moaned about it for ages and it finally happened. No I’m not talking about Brexit, but about the lack of roast dinners available in Harrow, or anything that isn’t trashy food for basic types. This week, I ordered a roast dinner from Cafe Express on Uber Eats.
Two months have gone by since my last proper roast dinner outing. I keep seeing pubs and restaurants across London offering roast dinners, and once I got over the heartbreak, I started collating them on their own page.
Yet I live in Harrow. A true foodie black hole where the only places that deliver are fried chicken shops, fried chicken shops and fried chicken shops. Prior to this Sunday, I had never actually used Uber Eats or Deliveroo – that is the paucity of edibility around here.
A bit like trying to get a shag on Tinder whilst being obese with an unfashionable hairstyle – I had given up all hope.
Yet last Sunday, I had a quick “you never know swipe” with my location set to Madrid. Oh and I had a quick “you never know look” through Deliveroo – nada, Just Eat – nothing, Uber Eats – 4 places. 4 whole places. Eh? Albeit two were “sold out” and still are this week.
GAME FUCKING ON. I didn’t even have to use a neutral ground.
You know, this writing blog malarkey is weird. Sometimes I think that I have a genius idea for an article but then it falls flat on its face – like my recent Help Me Write post with a grand total of zero contributions. Other times I know that I’m writing a load of shit and then it predictably also falls flat on its face.
I knew this roast dinner was going to fail in every respect. I knew the food would be dire. I knew that nobody would be interested in a review of Cafe Express in Harrow. And I knew this would fall flat on its face. Maybe I need a slogan?
So it got to around 1:30pm and I placed my order. It took a worryingly short amount of time in the preparation stage before Mansoor was on his way to Cafe Express. Not sure why I’ve chosen Cafe Express as my SEO keyphrase given that absolutely nobody will be searching for it, but hey I never cared about SEO before. CAFE EXPRESS.
CAFE EXPRESS HEADING
Just Googled it and they don’t seem to have a website, however they do have a 4.7 rating on Google so it must be really good. Or at least the best in the area.
It does look quite classy from the photo I stole from Google. At least compared to most places in or near Harrow. There isn’t even that much litter outside and no dirty mattresses.
They even have 3 out of 5 on some points thing.
I decided to make a meal of it, and had some freshly-cooked bread for starters from Sainsburys, which tasted somewhat of vinegar.
And I poured myself a glass of cheap Rioja, also from Sainsburys, into my exceptionally oversized wine glass – so large that I can only fit two glasses from the pack of four in my cupboard. However they are from Morrisons so they’ll smash at some point.
Regular readers – probably everyone right now as I doubt there is anyone stumbling across this on the internet thinking “ooh I’m really interested in Cafe Express I might have a read of this blog” – will note that I have a fair disdain for presentation.
So many times I’ve had really well-presented roast dinners that are lacking in flavour and substance. But look pretty.
I dearly hope that I have roast dinners delivered like this to me in a restaurant next year.
Let’s make the wait even more enticing.
Yep, plastic cutlery and gravy in a polystyrene cup – at least I didn’t have to ask for extra gravy.
Now part of me thinks I should be a little kinder for delivery/takeaway – even Blacklock might struggle to score above an 8 were they to deliver roast dinners.
I don’t really do takeaway food of any kind unless I’m drunk and it is too late to risk the smoke alarm going off, and the subsequent rath of my neighbours/housemate. So my experience and understanding of takeaway establishments is roughly comparable to my experience and understanding of clitorises.
So my heart suggests that I should be a little more forgiving, especially to any pubs in the local area that are attempting takeaway roast dinners.
I’m not sure my forgiveness stretches to this though:
£12.49 I paid for this, including the £3.50 service charge.
The carrot slices were stuck together in linear formation as if they had been sliced on the way to my house. They were soft and acceptable, though it is particularly difficult to fuck up carrots. It reminded me of Poplar Cafe.
Alas the cabbage probably could not have been more fucked up. Soggy to the point of mulch, again all clumped together with even less thought than a government slogan. It reminded me of Poplar Cafe, but worse.
Roast potatoes were sadly numerous and clearly not roasted. I counted 6 though it felt like 26 as I counted the almost as numerous amount of ways to remove any appeal they might have had before cooking. Some were quite solid inside, all had that deep-fried coating – occasionally I’d get a hint of something a tad crispy. It reminded me of Poplar Cafe, but even worse.
Does it look better on a plate?
The Yorkshire pudding was like an Aunt Bessie but worse. It existed but provided no joy.
Had the rest of the roast been decent, then the meagre amount of lamb would have fucked me off. However nothing had even approached acceptable on the plate so far.
So I wasn’t too worried about the ungenerous nature of shriveled lamb. It even tasted like lamb. However – whilst at my base for comparison, Poplar Cafe, the lamb was not shit, this was shit. Tired, occasionally cold, overcooked. You can see for yourself how shit it looks and like the rest of the meal, it tasted every bit as bad.
Finally the gravy. Well, at least I didn’t have to worry about not getting enough gravy thanks to the polystyrene cup filled of gravy. And it was thick! Sufficient, thick gravy – about as close to forgiveness as I can offer. Alas, it tasted a bit cheap and nasty, like pound shop onion gravy granules.
How Much Forgiveness?
Well, I was going to be more forgiving about delivered roast dinners, seeing as I imagine that they are so difficult to produce and deliver successfully.
Yet my kindness ran out after I opened the box.
The highlight was taking the plate downstairs and doing the washing up. I guess if I had to pick the more forgivable aspect of the food then it would be the carrots. Everything else was almost equally as turdtastic, tough the cabbage was really quite venomous.
I’m scoring it a 2 out of 10. That may sound generous, but nothing was burnt, nothing was truly inedible. It could have been worse.
Just realised that I didn’t show you the menu. Is there any point now? Is there any point in any of this?
Time to get back to pretending to be Spanish on Tinder.
I’ll be back soon. Maybe next weekend if I can face another dose of misery.
Cafe Express, Northolt,
Where now, sailor?
Random roast review: The Old Queen’s Head, Angel