Another wet August Sunday arrived and it really felt like a roast dinner day. Heidi in Balham was booked.
Well, every Sunday feels like roast dinner day to me, rain or heatwave – but a bit like it takes a Prime Minister to remind us how glorious coal mining was, it takes incessant weeks of heavy showers for half of Twitter to remember what a roast dinner is.
Twitter is the universe, right?
This was my 3rd attempt to make it to Heidi in Balham, following a random number generator selection a few weeks ago. The first attempt was culled due to the pandemic, ironic given that the owner of Heidi isn’t exactly the biggest fan of the app:
I wonder if he classes himself as a vegetarian Marxist?
Anyway the second time I was booked for Heidi in Balham (having to write all this so I can repeat the phrase Heidi in Balham enough for my search engine optimisation plug-in to know that I’m writing about Heidi in Balham after visiting Heidi in Balham), I had to cancel again as I had gained some accomplices who didn’t want to go south of the river.
This Sunday, I had no accomplices. I was solo dining. And on call for work which has delightfully been like free money this time, instead of destroying my sanity and sleeping patterns.
I went to Heidi in Balham
I’ve been following Cattegrid on Twitter for a while and last year he asked if I’d been to Hannah in Battersea, which was one of the establishments that he runs, most of them I assume named after his ex-wives – Hannah, Heidi, Betty, The Charlotte and, erm, Cattle Grid.
He seems an opinionated nobhead, and I like to think that I’m an opinionated nobhead. Quite a few of my good friends are opinionated nobheads also…Brexiters, anti-vaxxers, scaffolders, drug dealers – you name it, I’m friends with them. So with my approval of his occasionally disagreeable output, I added Hannah to the to-do list. And ended up going to Heidi. In Balham. In…
THE ROAST TRIANGLE OF DOOM.
Speaking of nobheads, well…total cunts, when I finally made it onto the Metropolitan line, I headed towards a bank of 4 chairs to sit down, diagonally opposite a sullen young woman with her feet on both chairs.
She aggressively informed me that the chairs were for her feet. I replied, “OK, cool” though I’m sure that my rolling eyes gave away my feelings. If only they had taught me “who the fuck do you think you are” in Latin at school. Yeah we didn’t get taught Latin in Hull.
In a different mood I might have stayed sat there next to her feet but she looked kind of threatening, I had no idea if any of the people around were her mates and I had my work laptop with me so I just took myself out of the situation. An inauspicious start to the journey.
Plus I was proper hungry.
I arrived at Heidi in Balham – well, I didn’t actually know I had arrived as there seemed to be no signage on the outside to suggest what the venue was called or even what they did. And then I had to squeeze past the tables and chairs that blocked the entrance – was it even open? Was it actually Heidi?
It was, but I was their only customer. Inauspicious once more.
I was given the choice of any seating area, unlike on the tube earlier. At first I chose a high table with stools, hidden around the corner, but realising that I’d be eating with my arms level with my shoulders, I relocated to these strangely thin benches near the front of the bar, but as I had nobody to sit opposite to, that wasn’t an issue.
I feel like whoever chose the furniture didn’t really consider the idea of people eating there – but I’ve had worse, Quality Chop House looking at you and your tiny squeezed benches that only a quarter of my backside could fit on. It was definitely more set up for drinking and being social, than eating alone and being miserable.
Apart from the seating, I liked the feel of the place, I could imagine it as a rather buzzy bar in the evening and perhaps it would come into its own more in the winter.
I also liked the look of the menu – away from roast dinners they do a tasty looking brunch menu on Saturday day, a tapas kind of thing at other times, the drinks were cheap – £6.66 if a champagne cocktail is your kind of thing, but even a pint was only £5.50.
And the roasts were cheap too (with apologies to anyone up north reading) – £17 for sirloin of beef, £15.00 for pork belly or corned chicken breast – which I took to mean corn-fed.
Annoyingly I didn’t read the sides until long after ordering, as the cauliflower gratin would normally have tempted me.
I chose the chicken as I’m once again vaguely attempting to become a bit less rotund and a bit less totally unsexy – and even had an apple juice instead of beer. My dinner took around 20 minutes to arrive, whilst I was reading about the boom in fintech investment amongst other exciting topics – behold the return of the rectangular plate.
Starting with the carrot which had been sliced vertically in half, perfectly roasted with hints of pepper and aniseed – though I wasn’t sure if the latter flavour was perhaps from the creamed cabbage.
The menu suggested creamed leeks, with separate Savoy cabbage, but I didn’t detect any leek and did have creamed cabbage. Which was excellent – the cream was really tasty, as I mentioned I thought something had a slight aniseed taste which could have been this or the carrots – either way, the vegetables were very good.
The menu also suggested parsnips, but they were nowhere to be seen.
Three roast potatoes were supplied, all clearly tasting beautiful from the duck fat, fairly soft inside – though also soft on the outside – not crispy.
The Yorkshire pudding was good, crispy edges and a soft bottom – it felt reasonably freshly cooked too.
I think the chicken breast was a tad made earlier, and was smaller than ideal. Yet it was quite heavily herbed, roasted nicely, the skin was really crispy and salty (in a good way) and the chicken itself packed loads of flavour.
And finally, cum liquamine superfudit. Which apparently means gravy in Latin – though whether they actually had gravy back when normal humans spoke Latin is another matter. It was quite thick, a standard I appreciated with hints of bone marrow flavour – and improved an already very good roast dinner.
Because I got high
Yes, another very good roast dinner. What is happening?
In a parallel universe the NUM (National Union of Miners for those under 40 years old) is still in charge of the country and the nationalised pea factory that I work at provides me with enough peas to cook over my coal-fired cooker as we say grace to life-long leader, Arthur Scargill, and thank him for his work, not only in deposing Margaret Thatcher but, more importantly, bringing us a much hotter climate to the UK. Albeit everything is covered in soot until the floods happen – but that doesn’t matter as we only live until 50 year’s old. Heil Scargill.
Yet in reality I live a modern life and can use this new-fangled thing called a search engine to find out what the Latin is for “fuck off Boris Johnson”. Which is apparently, Fortuna off Marcus Cicero. Oh yeah, and I’m having very good roast dinners every week…I don’t even need some sickening capitalist carnivore to tell me where to go.
And you can definitely go here. I’m going to have to be a bit more careful in my drawing of the Roast Triangle Of Doom in future as this cuts off another chunk of it.
My only real complaint is that it did feel a bit lacking in quantity. There were no parsnips as advertised, the chicken was rather small and I was still hungry afterwards. Of course, had I taken notice of the sides, this may not have been the case – but I was eager to order. Upselling possibility missed?
True that the roast potatoes weren’t crispy but they were good, and the chicken was a tad cooked earlier – but it was still really flavoursome.
I think my favourite part of the meal was the creamed cabbage, which was super tasty, but the gravy was also pretty much spot on in terms of flavour and consistency.
Because I said bye
I’m scoring it an impressive 8.05 out of 10.
Why was it so quiet though? For the very good roast dinner I had, I’m surprised that I was the only one there. Don’t get me wrong, I do want to be pushing hidden gems to you all, and this fits the bill. Hopefully it is busier during the week or on Saturday for brunch – I guess if you do no research on your Sunday roasts then you just go to your local pub – and Heidi ain’t a pub.
But it doesn’t exactly sell itself. It doesn’t announce itself – if you are passing in the street you would be unsure whether they are open, let alone sell a Sunday roast, and it being right opposite Balham station there is surely passing trade to attract.
And when was the last time they posted about their roast dinner on Twitter? 12th March. It wasn’t even open then!
It feels like they are really missing an opportunity here. Anyway, hopefully my positive review will go a little way to helping.
Dominus Gravy will be back with another review next week, and I’m going somewhere with a very good reputation. Could it be 5 very good/excellent roast dinners in a row? Or am I setting myself up for a fall? Not sure I can take all this excellent and I’m craving writing a scathing.
I’m also dining with a colleague this coming Sunday…yes I’m actually seeing someone I work with face to face. But the office is still far too dangerous to visit, obviously.
Tube Lines: National Rail, Northern
Fare Zone: Zone 3
Loved & Loathed
Loved: Everything was good or better, but the creamed cabbage was particularly gorgeous
Loathed: Well I was still hungry afterwards - and the seating isn't really made for dining.