The Cat & Mutton, Hackney

Please note that this review is from December 12, 2017 and may be out of date...restaurants sometimes get better, get worse, employ a new chef or end up with new management.

Let it snow, let it snow…let TFL fuck up your plans. Hmmm Nazaneen Ghaffar.

The plan was originally to have a roast dinner in East London for the first time ever (Shoreditch doesn’t count). The random number generator had picked the keenly-priced Cat & Mutton in Hackney (London Fields to be exact).

The plan was also to meet a good friend who neither showed up or cancelled on me. Co-incidentally he also voted for Brexit. Just putting it out there.

TFL then decided to suspend both tube lines that I could use which absolutely no communication as to when they would be running again (Monday).

Oh, and the Cat & Mutton didn’t have any tables free that I could book, but insisted that there were normally tables available for walk-in. Allegedly you can book online, but actually and annoyingly, you can only make an enquiry.

Did I mention that I had a lot of beer the night before and my equine-enhanced brain was still rather spinning come Monday morning?

Any sensible person would have taken note of TFL’s anti-economic policy of avoiding travel, put the heating on, poured a mulled beer, loaded up Deliveroo and then pelted the poor cyclist with a barrage of snowballs as he arrived. Sorry feminists, as “he or she” arrived.

Yet there was no stopping me. I am dedicated to giving you as many roast dinner reviews as possible. Dedicated and handsome, in my ironically plain blue non-Christmas jumper. First a bus. Yes a bus. Then 3 tube journeys, an accidental stop in a pub full of miserable and deluded Arsenal fans (and a very quick stop), and finishing with an overground train…finally we were in the warmth of The Cat & Mutton. Ahhhh.

The warmth of the pub was matched by the busyness. We peered across the floor and there were no tables free. 2 hours it had taken me to get there. Then we noticed an upstairs so headed up.

No tables either.

Wait…a table at the back, I think. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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Reserved for Courtney.

I wasn’t about to give up – I hadn’t spent 15 minutes on a crowded bus to accept defeat. We hung around and confused the bar staff with the idea that we’d like to wait for the next available table.

Courtney was already 15 minutes late, so we sat on the edge of her table. 10 minutes later, we relaxed and took our coats off. We claimed the table. Las Malvinas son nuestras. If she arrived, then she’d just have to get over it, like all you remoaners out there, talking down the economy – especially TFL. Rejection is nothing new to me.

The menu choices were beef, pork and chicken. Beef sirloin and pork belly to be exact. The chicken I think was lemon and thyme roasted…but don’t quote me on that. I chose the pork belly – partly because it was cheapest at £12.50, but also because I love pork belly. When it is done well. My sister chose the beef at £15.50.

It took around 20-25 minutes to arrive which is a perfectly decent amount of time to wait. We did have to remind the waitress that we required cutlery, and also had to request extra gravy – shock horror – though this was a true paucity bordering on non-existence. I could understand if we were under post-war rations. But we are not. Despite Brexit.

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This is a regular, recurring theme. This is review number 37 now, I think. Perhaps 1 or 2 I have not had to request extra gravy for. Now I appreciate that I love gravy to the extent that some of my sexual fantasies contain the stuff (gravy apparently means something else on Pornhub) yet I am not the only person ever to moan about the lack of gravy on roast dinners in London. If places really were going to earn their pestiferous service charges then part of this surely would be to ask how much gravy one requires.

Rant over.

Starting with the carrot and parsnip. Both came as one long vertical quarter, and both had been fairly lightly roasted, in honey. Pleasant, though still waiting for my extra gravy.

Savoy cabbage was supplied and though nice, was fairly ordinary…and on the cold side. Very ordinary, really – sometimes cabbage is a surprise highlight, but not this time. Just as ordinary as a drag queen on a unicycle…in Hackney. Might have been less ordinary were there enough gravy on the plate.

Then there was a little mound of celeriac puree. Now, I am yet to be converted to the alleged delights of celeriac, and am hopefully another good 30-40 years away from my food needing to be liquefied. However this was a little more joyful than expected, just 3 forkfuls, and quite textured rather than pure puree.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2017

Roast potatoes came in two forms. Firstly my largest roast potato was completely non-crispy and rather soggy on the outside – a touch dry on the inside. Still fairly charming but do you know what it could have done with? Yes, some fucking gravy still being on the plate.

I took influence from TFL and went on strike.

I was neither eating or leaving until I had sufficient gravy.

Tools were downed. I lit an imaginary bonfire and huddled around it shouting “Down With Austerity. Deft Tory Rule”.

Finally more gravy arrived. I asked for an extra 5 days off and double-pay on a weekend, but alas a bowl of gravy would have to suffice from this negotiation. And it was a whole bowl of gravy – not the easiest to pour, but of a healthy consistency with a really good flavouring to it – meat stock but more complex. The gravy was tops…the best part of the meal. Winner.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2017

So the other two, now fairly cold, roast potatoes were crispy on the outside and quite fluffy on the inside. Not perfection but very good indeed – alas my accomplice did not have any luck with the crispiness of hers.

The Yorkshire pudding was also really good. Though large, it hadn’t risen massively (insert self-abusive innuendo), however it had a nicely soft and slightly soggy bottom, with somewhat crispy edges and tasted eggy. In terms of structural quality, it was very, very good.

Finally – as I went all crazy on yo ass bitch and have already talked gravy – the pork belly. I’ve certainly had better – the top part was quite tough and stringy – one would expect a crunchy crackling phase but this seemed missing entirely. The bottom half was nicer, with more of the expected fat mixing with relatively pully pork. One hundred and eighty! Look at what you could have won. Erm…it was decent enough, especially for the price – but it could have been better.

Summarising. To steal a phrase from my accomplice, it wasn’t a life-changing roast. But it was a good roast dinner. Excellent gravy which always helps – and nothing was less than decent. I guess there could have been more food if I were being pedantic but I wasn’t hungry afterwards.

Service could have been less confused – not entirely blaming the individuals as it seemed more that they were short-staffed and over-whelmed by the requirements. And again there was a service charge – though only 10% this time. Our red wines hadn’t been added to the bill – we asked for the bill to be corrected as per honest northerners should…the wait led me to the point of regretting my honesty.

So for a very decent and sometimes very good roast, I’m giving it a healthy 7.68 out of 10. A deservedly above-average score for a very fine east London boozer. And a thank you to Courtney for being a proper snowflake.

Next Sunday will be the last roast dinner review before Christmas. Still waiting for a hot Spanish senorita to tell me where to go.

Hmmm Nazaneen.

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The Cat & Mutton, Hackney

Station: London Fields

Tube Lines: Overground

Fare Zone: Zone 2

Price: £12.50

Rating: 7.68

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: Was a battle to get some gravy, but it was a really good, complex, meat stock affair.

Loathed: Cabbage was cold.

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