And this week I went to Leman Street Tavern in Aldgate.
You’d have thought that after the royal wedding, that would have been perfect Tinder time for even someone aesthetically challenged as myself. Especially seeing as Harry allegedly proposed over a roast dinner.
Alas, October 2016 remains my most recent match.
Just think, if I had a girlfriend, we could have done a his and hers special for the Royal Wedding. I’d be wearing Harry, #obs, as I don’t want to lick another man’s beard even if it is just a printed beard. My grandmother did comment the other day that I am “going on holiday with a gay”. I think she fancies me.
I myself, had royalty joining me for a roast dinner this Sunday. A few weeks back I received a message from my father, asking if he and my mother could join for roast club.
The pressure was on. However I subcontracted the decision of where to go to my father – shortlisting it to 4 possible mum-friendly venues within a mum-friendly distance with a mum-friendly lack of escalators at the tube station (she has a similar aversion to them as I do peas, commies and vegans).
My dad picked Leman Street Tavern, close to Aldgate and not far from Whitechapel – probably the least inspiring of the 4. And the one with quite a few unfavourable reviews on Google. I headed there with some concern that my parents were not going to be too impressed with their first ever roast dinner in London.
My concern was elevated upon arrival to find an almost-empty restaurant. A very sizeable restaurant with lots of tables. By time we left, it seemed that we were the only people inside apart from the staff – though there were tables that I couldn’t see.
Being near Aldgate and the edge of the City of London, one assumes that it is rammed Monday to Friday – it isn’t an area with an overabundance of housing, and if people use the front doors of these new-build flats nearby they are going to be in danger of death.
It was so quiet that we even had the option to sit outside – despite the glorious and warm sunshine. And it sure ain’t easy to find a table outside during early summer….at least until it gets too hot, or roughly 26’C.
The venue itself was a fairly ordinary gastropub style of establishment – a centre bar with differing styles of tables and chairs clustered in sections around it. The “Leman Street Tavern” sign in large, flower-dotted letters on the wall did give it a warm and welcoming feel.
Beer selection was fairly ordinary for London – I had a pint of Hells which seems ever-so unimaginative nowadays. Hipsters give me that look when I order Hells, you know, the “what am I doing in an establishment with fat, northern, common beardless women like you” look.
We were advised upon arrival that there were no lamb roasts left, however there was still gammon, chicken, beef striploin and some vegetarian thing to choose from. Oh go on then, seeing as it was National Vegetarian Week, there was a cauliflower, garlic and cheddar bake. Ranging in price from £14.00 to £19.00.
Given that it was National Vegetarian Week, there was only one option. Gammon. Yes I am fighting back at the veganisation of London one sausage at a time – I nearly accidentally made myself a vegetarian dish last week during National Vegetarian Week but thankfully found a last-minute sausage to fry.
Oh wait a minute…BREXIT! ALL THOSE FUCKING FOREIGNERS OVER HERE TAKING OUR JOBS THAT WE DON’T WANT TO DO. WE ARE TAKING BACK CONTROL. RESPECT THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE. DEMOCRACY IS A PROCESS AND WE VOTED TO LEAVE – WE MUST LEAVE, AS SIMPLE AS THAT. WILL OF THE WHITE PEOPLE. I HAVE A SECRET HOMOSEXUAL FETISH OVER JACOB REES-MOGG WHIPPING ME.
Ah bless, all those snowflakes getting upset about being called names. Get in the sea…I mean, get on Question Time.
Thinking about it now, I bet that cauliflower, garlic and cheddar bake was nice. But understand my commitment to you, dear reader – I must remain relevant like Katie Hopkins doing ketamine to get down with the kids (do I need a lawyer yet?). I should probably mention the royal wedding again, but…nah. I didn’t watch it. I kind of assumed that I’d see the repeat at Christmas when my mother expertly chooses our evening entertainment…well it is a choice of that, Eastenders or QVC. Pick your battles wisely, my friends.
The gammon was £17, and mustard-glazed gammon too.
Dinner took a good 30-40 minutes to arrive – much longer than the usual wait for a roast dinner, which is absolutely splendiddly acceptable – this surely means that our roast potatoes might actually be cooked properly?
30-40 minutes is a longer wait than normal, too much for some people. I am more than happy to wait – probably would have been ideal if the waitress had advised us (though she may have done and I just didn’t listen). The longer I waited, the more hopeful I became.
And then it arrived. There was no shortage of food on the plate.
Starting with the carrots, as normal. These were small baby carrots, all really nicely cooked – I would suggest roasted and perhaps in butter, though there wasn’t a strong taste. These were pretty spot on.
Then there was some form of cabbage medley – and I love cabbage when it works well with the gravy…and this did.
We also ordered cauliflower cheese as a side, at £4.00 a dish – each dish was enough for two people. A lot more thought than usual had gone into this – the cream was thick, the mature cheddar cheese really merged into the cauliflower (which was perfectly tender) – there was rosemary and we think, mushroom, added to the mix. Then lightly grilled to finish – this was an excellent sidedish.
So, was 30-40 minutes long enough for the perfect roast potato?
No. But more than passable paunch of potatoes was supplied, fairly small, actually roasted – not solid inside. Almost there but without the crispy edges.
The main reason why I added Leman Street Tavern to my list in the first place was that they offered unlimited yorkies when I added it. I totally forgot this, though with the amount of food on the plate this was about as necessary as a vegan BBQ. The yorkie itself was good – a little crispy around the edges, soft on the bottom – well constructed.
And then the gammon. Two large, thick slices of gammon – over 1cm thick. Sure, there was a fair wedge of fat to the gammon, but have you seen Question Time recently? Actually don’t bother – I listened to Diane Abbott for 20 seconds the other night on some populist winge and…oh…wait a minute…you’re a leftie aren’t you? I should remember that I have a London audience.
So I listened to the inspirational Diane Abbott give a moving speech on the Tory-biased BBC – and felt my intellect undermined so much that I was embarrassed to watch any more.
What was I going on about? I haven’t taken any drugs. I have never taken drugs.
Oh yeah the gammon was thick and more than plentiful – I didn’t especially gather much of a mustard glaze from it, though pleasingly it wasn’t as salty as gammon sometimes can be. Good but not special. Can gammon be special?
The beef was even better – two of my accomplices had ordered it – more of a mustard taste despite being herb-covered not mustard, nicely charred on top, and rare but not overly so inside. I had beef envy – and beef is not normally my favourite meat to have on a roast. The portion size was again very large.
Also the chicken, which my mother had came rather large too – a lemon and thyme affair. To me, nothing special, but my mother was very happy.
What’s left? Just the gravy I reckon. And this was superb – really good consistency, notably creamy, strong hints of pepper, and I thought perhaps minimal hint of onion and garlic too – though the latter may be imagined. A really, really good gravy. Proper gravy. The kind a northerner like me can get excited over.
Unexpectedly, I’ve had a really very good roast dinner at Leman Street Tavern. And virtually nobody else was in the restaurant. Highlights and lowlights are a struggle to pick out. Either the gravy or the cauliflower cheese. I’m going for the gorgeous gravy – as we’ve seen in the past a bad gravy can ruin a dinner, and this was as close to perfect as I will get all year. Lowlight – that I chose gammon instead of beef? There isn’t really a lowlight. Is lowlight even a word?
I’m going to score it 8.18 out of 10. Had I chosen the beef – this would have been an 8.5, maybe an 8.6. But the gammon was just good – the beef was excellent. Other scores on the table ranged from an 8.5 to a 9.1. I have a feeling that my parents might be getting the train from Hull for future roast clubs.
I’m kinda stunned. Why is this place so empty? Did I just get lucky? I’m sure that you follow my every twist and turn – make sure you do add this to your to-do list.
Next Sunday I’m going east to the land of hipsters. And it will be hipster-central.
Toodlepip from the both of us, dear subjects.
Leman Street Tavern, Aldgate
Tube Lines: Circle, District, Hammersmith & City
Fare Zone: Zone 1
Loved & Loathed
Loved: Gorgeous gravy, cauliflower cheese was excellent and they sold the lesser-spotted gammon. Surprisingly excellent.
Loathed: Well I wish I had ordered the beef as it was tastier than what I'd ordered!