Long-time readers that haven’t gone loco from reading too much of my trite witterings, will be aware that I use the random number generator to pick most of my roast dinner locations from my to-do list. However, every 25 reviews, I choose somewhere that I really fancy trying. This time I decided to pick Madame Pigg in Dalston, for roast dinner 125.
This hasn’t exactly worked in the past. Hawksmoor was roast dinner 25 and is probably the most over-rated roast dinner in London. I scored it a 6.93 and it seems far too generous a score looking back.
Roast dinner 50 was at The Pig & Butcher. Somewhere that you have to book weeks in advance so I was expecting brilliance. It was very good, but no more – and again I’d suggest over-rated.
75 I forgot to do anything for, but for roast dinner 100 I went to the highly-rated Eat Lagom and basically ate the North Sea. It remains highly-rated so I can only hope that my poor experience there helped them to adjust their salt levels. Fuck, I hated writing that review.
So Madame Pigg for roast dinner number 125 didn’t really have too much to live up to. And then last week I recounted how many roast dinners I’d had, and realised that this would be roast dinner number 127. Oops. A fact that led my special guest, the editor of
THE Londonist, no less, to state, “FFS if it’s roast #127 I’m not really interested, mate. Bit insulting really.”.
I really should start writing that book, “how to make friends and influence them”. Speaking of books I should really plug the Londonist Drinks book as they gave me a few quid once to write a load of tosh about Yorkshire puddings and occasionally retweet it, which gets me two extra followers until I slag off something woke.
It is a seriously brilliant book and you can buy it on Amazon. So well-written and composed, linguistically genius and…yeah, I haven’t actually even looked inside. THIS IS HOW PROFESSIONAL BLOGGERS DO MARKETING DONT YA NO. I just bought a copy because of the shiny blue bits on the cover which show up just brilliantly with my photography skills. It will be brilliant though. Just brill. Trust me. Buy it for your alcoholic ex-partner, maybe?
Give me some blonde hair extensions now
Madame Pigg had been recommended to me a while back. And since then, several people have basically instructed me to go, and the only other roast dinner reviewers in London worth following scored it very highly too. Despite the fact that I’m clearly worse at picking where to go for a roast than the random number generator is, I decided Madame Pigg was the one for the special occasion of roast dinner, erm, 127.
Before we go on, I was thinking about how we could modernise the Royal Family further. Obviously we have a commoner now, and against the wishes of some people that might have happened to vote for Brexit, a black person. I’m looking at them to step up the modernisation process – I think it is about time one of the Royal Family came out as trans. Prince Edward to become Princess Edwina, perhaps?
This was probably my first trip to Dalston without seeing a man in a dress (normally from visiting Dalston Superstore), though the usual scattering of wonderful and occasionally slightly scary characters yet to be gentrified away, were present. Yes, vegans everywhere. Quite how Madame Pigg get away with their name in London’s vegan, road-blocking district, I’m not sure. Even the Brewdog here is fully vegan. Yep, I’m now boycotting Brewdog. Except for tomorrow night. And next week. I’m shit at boycotts – taxi to Israel please. For the many, not the jus.
Dalston feels like stepping on enemy territory – as though someone is going to work out how much I love eating meat, how much I despise Extinction Rebellion and, heaven forbid, that I vote Tory. Or I used to vote Tory anyway, back when Boris Johnson cared more about bricks than Brexit and we used to have a Prime Minister that at least experimented with adulting.
What’s that? You are offering me an early Christmas present? Ooooh. What? 5 more years of Boris Johnson? Fuck that, give me a sack of coal instead. But I’d have to go dig it myself? Huh? That would be my job? What? I’m a software engineer. Oh, we are now a communist state. Yeah. Merry Christmas comrades. Please don’t put me in the gulag yet – I’ve still got 138 roast dinners to review.
Madame Pigg is a small restaurant on the glorious Kingsland Road, just south a bit from the overground stations. It is a small place – I didn’t count the tables but I guess 10-12. It is also immensely cosy and kinda cute – a very homely feel. Solid tables with mis-matched chairs, potted plants, a scattering of vinyls in one corner on some shelves, a small bar in the other corner.
Immediately I feel in love with Madame Blows…sorry I mean Madame Pigg…I should really spend less time on Pornhub. Speaking of which, if you search Pornhub for “Theresa May Donald Trump”, you’ll find a wonderful reenactment of an earlier press conference. Though I’m not hoping to find a similar reenactment with our current Prime Minister. And definitely not our next one.
Less Pornhub, More Pigg
So, Madame Pigg. Upon entering there was a warm welcome from one of the young ladies (mind of out gutter now, folks), who were charming and engaging throughout. They took my coat, complimented me on my trainers and brought over some water and a pint of obscure pale ale, whilst I waited for my special guests.
They also took their time to explain the menu to us – suggesting the special starter, which was a scallop topped with caviar, which sounded greatly tempting, and also recommended the cauliflower cheese as an extra side. I almost never have a starter prior to a roast dinner and given that I stupidly had a sausage sandwich just a couple of hours beforehand, this wasn’t going to change. Said sausage sandwich was utterly necessary for survival though.
Also. Plates. Could I be any more in love?
Actually I could – the music was pretty cool too, along the lines of disco and funk, with the odd snippet of 80’s electro. I’d suggest that it was a tad too loud for a restaurant – occasionally I struggled to hear what people sat to the left of me on the table were saying, but at least it was good music.
I think the young ladies serving us were a tad keener than we were to make a decision on what to order, as we were busy doing the re-introductions and fawning over our opposing publications – the waitresses enthusiasm for feeding us never faded…in another venue I might suspect desperate overselling, but it really felt like they were simply really keen for us to try their food.
Menu at Madame Pigg, Dalston
On the menu was beef, porchetta, chicken and lamb rump, priced between £18 and £24. I was torn between the porchetta and the lamb, however I went on the recommendation of the waitress, which was the porchetta – it wasn’t far down the road that I had a pretty damn amazing porchetta roast earlier this year. They also did a vegan roast…well…durrr.
Dinner took around 20-30 minutes to arrive – I cannot say that I was especially keeping track of the time.
I cannot remember quite how much I enjoyed puree as a baby. I do remember being fond of shouting, “wipe my bum” as a small child and I have been known to have had a second person in a toilet cubicle with me, albeit not for that exact purpose during my time as an adult.
This smoked parsnip puree was simply the best puree that I ever remember eating in my life – simply divine.
The two baby carrots were whole and thin. Rather crunchy though not to the point of dislike, very much juicy though nestled in the puree…thankfully, the smoked parsnip puree was amazing – baby carrots clearly need puree too.
Some spring greens were provided, which went well with a soaking of gravy and had an agreeable texture. Yeah I’m not really sure what I mean here.
We ordered a side of cauliflower cheese, which cost £6, to share between 4 of us. Which meant pretty much just a floret and a quarter each, but this was gorgeous – charred cauliflower with a thoroughly cheesy sauce, the cheese so good that we had to ask the waitress what it was – Black Bomber cheddar was the answer, if I heard correctly over the music. If I didn’t hear correctly then I am clearly just being racist. Oh it had a bit of truffle on top too. Is truffle racist? I struggle to understand in these woke times.
Do you have a madame?
Three properly crispy roast potatoes were supplied, pretty soft inside and sprinkled with sea salt. Fairly close to perfection – one can imagine better roast potatoes but these were about as good as I’ve had in London. Amazing how good roast potatoes can be when they aren’t made hours…or days before. Hello Young’s pubs. So getting barred from Young’s pubs at this rate.
All sounding great until now isn’t it? Alas, the Yorkshire pudding let the side down. Easily the most forgivable thing to mess up – my appreciation for oversized lumps of baked batter has disappeared even longer ago than my appreciation of the air conditioning on permanently-delayed Metropolitan line trains. This was dry and crispy – just give me a little Aunt Bessie next time. I have had far worse though. You knows it.
Ahhh porchetta. Well, this wasn’t perhaps as herbed-up as I’d had before, however every single bite was even more sexual than the time that I got on the tube wearing my imaginary ex-girlfriend’s big knickers on my head.
The meat itself excelled in tenderness, but the star of the show was just how perfect the crackling and fatty inner rim were, just melt-in-your-mouth-with-your-ex-girlfriend’s-knickers-on-your-head-does-Michael-Gove-still-have-a-hatred-of-hypens-vote-tory-kind-of-sexy. I find it much easier to write scathing reviews than hyperbolic praise as I just feel that I am vomiting words when (nearly) everything is gorgeous – but finishing the last bites of this was a “moment”.
Just the gravy to write about now. This was a rich, flavoursome for the many not the jus kinda gravy. A bit of consistency to it and probably about as enjoyable as this style of gravy/jus can be. Personal preferences would always be for something a bit more meat-stocky and, well, just a bit like the proper gravy my Grandma used to make.
The only question left is – was this better than Blacklock?
I pondered over this for quite a long time. I couldn’t work it out on the Sunday night before I went to bed. I wracked my brain during Monday (or what was left of it). I re-read the review of Blacklock. Still, I couldn’t decide.
The porchetta was significantly tastier than Blacklock’s pork, perhaps a little nicer than the lamb and beef too. The roasties were better, the vegetables were more flavoursome – the cauliflower cheese was nearly as immense. Alas, the yorkie failed and the gravy, though as good as that style can be, wasn’t anywhere near the level of sexyness of Blacklock’s.
So hard to compare the two, as both roast dinners excelled in different aspects.
Gravy matters. Gravy is the key to a roast dinner – amazing gravy and you can hide deficiencies, shit gravy and you’ve ruined the whole meal. I’d go so far as to suggest that gravy is life.
And therefore I’m going to suggest that this is the second best roast dinner at the time of writing.
Second in the league table, just like Liverpool will be again
It’s only the third roast dinner to get a score over 9 so far. I’m scoring it a whopping, orgasmic 9.14 out of 10.
My accomplices were also impressed though not quite as generous in their scores – two 8.5’s and an 8.9. Two of them had the chicken which was apparently very lemony – but not too much, and the beef was complimented too, but I’m not quite sure what he said as I couldn’t hear him over the music…oh have I reached that stage of life?
Service was really good – the people serving us full of charm and occasional wit – they really looked after us in an actually deserving the 12.5% service charge kinda way (I’d probably have tipped more if I had to think about it).
Minor gripe in that they perhaps asked us too often if we wanted drinks, food, etc – often we ordered, say, drinks from one waitress and a couple of minutes later the other asked us – but I’d much prefer the theme of being asked too often, then struggling to actually find someone to place an order with, which is sadly too common at other venues.
This was a thoroughly joyful dining experience from the first minute to the end. I wish they were all like this. Actually I don’t, as the review-writing would get boring. If every roast dinner was this delicious, there would be no need for this blog, and I could fuck off to go live in Spain like I long ago promised to if Corbyn becomes PM.
You know what to do now. Here’s the link. It’s not Pornhub, don’t worry!
Now, to persuade my mum and dad to go on a trip to Dalston when they visit next month.
Next Sunday was supposed to be my Brexit special. Alas, I forgot that Brexit was happening, and I’ve accidentally booked somewhere that looks like it is going to be a good roast. Oops. Brexit is happening, right?