Clink Restaurant, Brixton

Did you see the big news this week? Lord Gravy went to prison – Clink Restaurant in Brixton, that is.

Gosh I bet there are some chefs that would have liked me to stay in prison, for the crime of revealing watery gravy and shit roast potatoes to the world.

AI-generated image of a roast dinner in a prison

Alas for them, I was only in Brixton prison for 2-3 hours.

Also alas, you will have to rely on my dubious powers of description to have an image of the roast dinner this week, “the carrot was long, orange and nice” for example – for no phones were allowed inside.

Not only that, no smart watches, no wallet, no paper, no tissue, no drugs – I took only a bank card and the key to a locker inside. You can read more about the security guidelines here – we were also advised not to have boobs on show, wear t-shirts with cannabis logos on, etc.

It’s a curious way to get into a restaurant, and this is the only photograph I have for you. You start by reporting to a portacabin, leaving all your items in a locker, and exchange your passport for a lanyard.

Outside The Clink Restaurant, Brixton

Go To Jail

The guy who I assume is running the charity side of things here then takes a group of visitors at a time into the prison itself, through security, searches and then into the restaurant building – which is a pretty nondescript bland looking restaurant, the kind of which might class as posh in somewhere like Dunstable or Barnsley. Nondescript – except for the fences with barbed wire outside the “windows”.

You can read more about the concept behind Clink the charity here, but briefly it is an opportunity for those behind bars to gain City & Guilds National Vocational Qualifications in hospitality – in 2023 they trained up 830 students across their UK restaurants, and placed 52% of them into employment when they left prison.

If The Clink Restaurant isn’t something that food-obsessed folks like me and, I assume, most reading can get on board with and support, I don’t know what is. Especially when police have just been told to stop operations which might result in a large amount of arrests because there isn’t any space in jail. Cool. Thankfully we can all ignore this and instead worry about how we’ll cope with a few thousand desperate people wanting to claim asylum in this country, because this is apparently the priority. That and getting 18 years to do national service.

It being a prison, there is no alcohol, however the alcohol free pale ale by Days was a decent enough alcohol free beer. They also offered fizzy drinks, coffees, non-alcoholic cocktails, seedlip (whatever that is) and kombucha (also whatever that is).

Also the menu is a flat 3 course menu at £42.50 – there’s a link to the one we had here, though I guess at some point this page may not exist, so maybe refer to this link where the current menus are listed.

It did take a fair while for our drinks order to be taken, and then for drinks to arrive – Clink Restaurant isn’t quite the smooth ship that you’ll find at your standard city centre restaurant, service could be slow, one cup of coffee was placed down at an angle that surprised me, there was a reluctance to clear our tables, it also wasn’t so easy to get attention.

But, one has to remember that these are people who probably are having a much more difficult day than we are, that are training for hopefully a brighter future (we all deserve a second/third/fourth chance at life, whatever it may be) and are then going back to a cell after lunch, whereas I was going to a really excellent beer shop in Brixton called Ghost Whale. Perfection should not be expected.

Do Not Pass The Whitehouse

So, starters. On the menu was an option of a spring salad, a braised beef shin croquette, a parsnip soup and something else – comparing it to the menu online, I’ve realised that it was actually different to that, and no I don’t have a photograph, nor a photographic memory of menus.

AI-generated image of a beef croquette in a prison

I do have my friend, AI though – we are friends, right, AI? You are just augmenting my software engineering job and not replacing me…right?

The beef shin (I think it was beef shin anyway) resembled a scotch egg in appearance, with some pickled carrot strips underneath (bravo AI on the carrot strips that I didn’t even ask you to draw), and some fairly tasteless blobs of aioli (or similar) around the edge of the plate.

It was presented nicely, the braised beef was juicy, the outer crust of the croquette a little softer that I’d find ideal, but altogether this was a pretty decent starter.

Two accomplices had the parsnip soup which they were highly complimentary of, though that was pretty much where their compliments ended for the day – that and the coffee. Albeit the soup was cold, so I’m told.

Do Not Collect $200m In Taxes That You Owe For Defrauding Your Country

For mains, there was a choice of leg of lamb, sirloin of beef, lemon and thyme chicken, beetroot wellington (vegan) or pan friend fish…I assume cod, as per their menu currently online.

As I don’t have a photograph of the roast dinner, I thought instead you’d like to see a collection of images of people who’ve committed crimes and should be in jail.

Donald Trump.  Should be in prison.
Image via Gage Skidmore, under license CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED
Vladimir Putin.  Should be in prison.
Image via Palácio do Planalto under license CC BY 2.0 DEED
Xi Jinping.  Should be in prison.
Image via Global Panorama under license CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED
Prince Andrew.  Should be in prison.
Image via The Open University under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED
Boris Johnson.  Should be in prison.
Image via BackBoris2012 Campaign  under license CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED
Nigel Farage.  Should be in prison.
Image via Steve Bowbrick under licence CC BY 2.0 DEED

OK I’m bored of that but I think you get my drift. I’d ordered the vegan beetroot wellington and was pretty damn hungry when it arrived.

Lol, as if I’d ordered the vegan – but you can’t see it so who knows.

AI-generated image of a roast dinner outside a prison (or possibly a concentration camp...yikes)

Anyway, the cabbage was alright, though quite tough and undercooked in places.

Beetroot was raw and cold, and didn’t belong on the roast dinner at all. Plus the purple juice then infected the gravy…what little gravy there was. Can you see any gravy on my plate? No, I could barely see it either.

I enjoyed the swede and carrot mash, which was soft and…well there isn’t really anything else to say.

The parsnips were also good, and the flavour had been brought out nicely – they were soft too.

Lock Him Up, Lock Him Up, Lock Him Up

Things went downhill during roast potato season. They looked the part – they really did, I can assure you that. Probably crispy edges. However they probably were the part multiple hours ago – I guess again I need to remember to respect that Clink Restaurant isn’t any ordinary restaurant, and by this point I’d assumed that everything was served cold so that prisoners wouldn’t be able to throw hot food at prison guards in an attempt to escape – though a couple of the roast potatoes could potentially have made weapons.

Anyway, alas, the roast potatoes were cold and old – and the coldness, along with the plastic cutlery made them a chore. You could call it criminal.

The cold theme went into extreme with the Yorkshire puddings – plural, aha – we had two really notably cold Yorkshire puddings. Not quite fridge cold, but cold. On the bright side, they were the softest, fluffiest yorkies in a long time. If you can get over the fact they were cold, then these were really good Yorkshire puddings. If you cannot get over that…then, well, maybe play a game of throw a yorkie over a prison fence on the way out.

The sirloin of beef was respectable – two slices which were moderately thickly cut. Somewhat tender, lacking much in the way of seasoning, herbs or flavour, but it was pleasant enough.

I’d describe the gravy but I barely had any. I tried to ask for extra gravy, but our waiter was more interested in the girls on the next table. Kind of understandable.

And For Dessert…

I’d chosen a rhubarb and hibiscus crumble for dessert, though there was also sorbet, lemon and raspberry sponge, milk buns and a chocolate tart of some description to choose from, going from memory.

One accomplice had only eaten the parsnips, swede mash and one cold Yorkshire pudding – so I didn’t dare tell her that the yellow substance that the crumble came on, crème anglaise, reminded me of prison slop that you see in the movies.

So I wasn’t sure about the crème anglaise, however the rhubarb crumble was nice, the tang of the rhubarb and the sugary coating of crisp crumble, is what I was there for. Damn I do love rhubarb crumble…even in a prison.

AI-generated image of rhubarb custard on creme anglaise

That’s actually a pretty close representation.

The Clink Restaurant – It’s For Charidee Mate

Sure, this wasn’t the perfect roast dinner. Before I give scores, I will remind you that I treat everywhere the same on this tinpot blog, the scores are mostly just based on the roast dinner itself – though anything especially annoying or delightful may skew it slightly. The aim of this blog, apart from to outlast 100 re-incarnations of UKIP, is to provide a list of roast dinners, from exceptional to exceptionally bad, that you can cross-compare.

You’ll have worked out that I’m not scoring The Clink Restaurant as highly as I’d like to. I’m not giving extra points for their mission. However, you should give The Clink Restaurant extra consideration for their mission – by eating here you are doing something good for the community, something good for society.

If I have a bang average roast dinner at a Young’s pub, then all I’m helping is their shareholders…now I do love capitalism, but there isn’t a warm glow when other people’s stocks go up in value at the end of a day (the stocks I own are a different matter). There is a warm glow when you know you’ve hopefully gone a little way to helping someone find their path not only out of prison, but hopefully out of going back to prison ever again.

With that said, I guess only the parsnips impressed. The yorkie was properly soft and fluffy…but cold.

On the downside, the roasties were tough, the cabbage tough too…and I guess a lack of seasoning, herbs etc. Oh and the raw beetroot on a roast…no thanks. Though mostly it was just pretty ordinary…in a not so ordinary setting.

My accomplices scored it a 6.50, a 7.10 and a, erm, 2.00 out of 10 (as she only ate two things).

My score is a 6.60 out of 10.

Please don’t let my score put you off. It’s not a fair comparison as I’m comparing what is effectively a training restaurant to 293 other professional pubs/restaurants with full-time employees. You should still go to The Clink Restaurant, both for the experience, and to do your bit for the community. I may well go back for non-Sunday meal at some point.

Yeah, I didn’t mention the election. Don’t worry…I will. Next Sunday’s roast should be much better…if it isn’t in the 8’s, I’ll be shocked.

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Clink Restaurant, Brixton

Station: Brixton

Tube Lines: Victoria

Fare Zone: Zone 2

Price: £42.50

Rating: 6.60

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: The experience and doing something for the community...oh and the parsnips.

Loathed: Well, the food was cold, the roasties were tough, the cabbage was tough in places, raw beetroot and not enough gravy. Don't expect perfection...they are in training, after all.

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