This Sunday gone, I somehow strived to get somewhere with no Metropolitan line, and found my way to Parlour in Kensal.
But haven’t you reviewed Parlour already, Lord Gravy? I do like speaking to myself by the way. For example, I quite often find myself walking to my kitchen and asking myself, out loud, why I went to the kitchen. Plus if I’m feeling really extravagant, I might ask the kitchen how he is.
Anyway, so on the off-chance that you haven’t got totally bored of reading this drivel by now, you may recall that I previously reviewed Parlour – but it was their takeaway, back when we were all protecting the NHS. For the third time. In 40 years time we are going to have a referendum on permanent lockdown, aren’t we? All of you lot will be old, even those of you with active Instagrim accounts now will be old in 40 years time, and you’ll be reminiscing about the “good old days” of the pandemic.
I decided that it was unfair to take a takeaway review as the gospel truth about a roast dinner experience – especially given that my delivery driver needed to spend a good 45 minutes or so driving to Harrow – a feat only narrowly less painful than a trip on the Metropolitan line. Which has actually been OK the last few weeks. Well, except for engineering works this weekend.
So here we are again. I said I’d review Parlour properly, and I’m really doing it.
It’s actually somewhere I stumbled upon, looking for a pre-roast drink before eating around the corner at Paradise by way of Kensal Green which very much wasn’t paradise – and remarking with envy about the pies that we’d seen at Parlour – with an assumption that they’d do a great looking roast too. Of course, great looking doesn’t mean much to me…but it does increase bookings by Instagrimmers.
I’d scored the takeaway a 7.20 out of 10, stating that “generally it was quite middling” though it had excellent beef. Quite why I didn’t re-read my earlier review this Sunday before ordering chicken, I’m not sure, without wanting to give away too much before you read it.
The journey there was more challenging than it should have been. 3 stops on the Piccadilly line, followed by a 20 minute walk towards Wembley Central, on a pavement which becomes progressively thinner yet busier, in a decidedly not levelled up area. Then an Overground to Kensal Green, and a walk down Harrow Road – which itself is rather challenging amongst the 11 year-old hoodies smoking cigarettes on garden walls whilst handing out “I want your shitty Chinese mobile phone” evils.
And then once in Parlour, I found myself having to be loud to be heard, and straining my ears to hear my accomplices. The acoustics inside are appalling – everyone has to talk louder to be heard, and this just causes a greater cacophony of sound bouncing off the walls.
It was hard work. And then there was the menu:
We did briefly consider the posh roast platter – which is basically a silver sharing tray with the various meats (looks pretty on Instagrim yah), but decided it was unnecessary and I went for the chicken, priced at £19.00 – mainly because I’ve not had it for a while. Though I’ve not had beef for a while either – except the beef joint I overcooked because I didn’t want my mother overcooking it.
I hadn’t noticed the hash browns as a side, and I kind of wished I’d ordered them just to cause a bit of a Twitterstorm – oh please can someone start putting weird things on roast dinners just so I have something different to talk about? THINK OF ALL THAT INSTAGRIMMAGE.
More hard work was to come. Free bread – woohoo! Albeit much more expensive chicken than normal.
This bread was about as tough as you could make bread without it having been left under a heat lamp all day like half of London’s Yorkshire puddings are – yet it was weirdly appealing, and clearly designed to be so tough given the steak knife they provided. Soda bread, apparently. No, we only eat sliced white bread in Hull.
It took so long to eat a piece that I hadn’t finished mine before my roast dinner arrived.
Tu etes encule par un chein
Starting with the super stringy cabbage which wasn’t very super. There was way too much of it, it was a tad fruity and needed cooking longer for my personal preferences. It wasn’t bad but I didn’t really enjoy it either – I guess you could say it was very middling.
The long carrot was very nice, soft, with a noble scattering of parsley and possible some other herb.
And that was it for the vegetables.
Oh there were 4 spinach leaves. Why?
For the takeaway roast back in Lockdown 13, I’d mentioned that the roasties were “actually crispy on the outside but, alas, required a steak knife to cut”. We had a mixture, all crispy on the outside – the largest one was fluffy on the inside too and possible quite freshly cooked, actually really quite good. One was quite tired and clearly cooked some time before, and then one was…well…I’ve got it on video:
Yeah. Hard work. Now you’d seen a blurry video of my fingers, are you turned on? More sexy than you expected, right?
Tête épaules genoux et orteils
The bottom of the Yorkshire pudding was appealingly mushy, yet the top two thirds felt like I was eating a miniature bouncy castle. And that isn’t a compliment.
As you can see from the photograph on the right, my accomplice’s beef was really good – some of the best she’s had this had. Sadly, my chicken didn’t come close to this standard.
The breast was surprisingly the most succulent part – though nothing amazing, it was plump and reasonably juicy, the skin a bit claggy though – like from a microwaved chicken breast portion.
You’d expect the thigh to be the best part – on the off-chance that Chicken Cottage still has chicken when I get home drunk, I try to ask for thighs – yet here it was tired and clearly ready for bed. Maybe it had spent too long struggling with the acoustics inside Parlour.
And then the drumstick had a texture similar to malleable plastic. If you go – definitely order the beef.
Finally, the gravy. It actually had a good consistency – it resembled proper gravy. Yet it was disappointingly flavourless. I thought perhaps I could make out a hint of cranberry – but why would that be the case? A missed opportunity – last week the gravy significantly improved a decent roast – yet this week the gravy does nothing to an average roast.
Diens dans ma chambre
Back when 5,758 new covid cases in the UK was a major problem, I said I’d “be surprised if they don’t score at least an 8 when I do visit”. Granted, I once also thought the Iraq War would be a resounding success in spreading peace and democracy across the Middle East.
But wait…maybe there is still a chance because…
WARNING! INCOMING VEGAN SECTION:
In 5.5 years I’ve not had a vegan roast that lived up to this one at the Parlour, but then again I’m new to the Sunday Roast Club.
All of the flavours were present, earthy from the veg, salt from the marinade on the king oyster mushrooms, sweetness from the gravy. It hit every note. Equally texture was delicious, I had the softness of the leek, the al dente carrot, a crusty filo pastry pie with a green sauce that had a tang to refresh the pallet in between bites of the tough exterior of the roast potatoes that I think had been tripled cooked or deep fried, I didn’t mind it resembled crackling, being vegan you don’t get to chew much. My only woe is that there wasn’t a vegan Yorkshire pudding but I doubt I had room for it any way. This vegan Sunday roast wasn’t a cop out of some veg, it was well thought out.
INCOMING LORD GRAVY ONCE MORE
So maybe choose the vegan pie if you visit. She gave it a 10/10, but reversed to a 9 once I explained that scoring something a 10/10 means it cannot be bettered. Ever. In your life.
Don’t tell me you wouldn’t eat that. On a Monday.
Je ne suis pas
So they can do impressive food here – and the roast potatoes came with whole garlic cloves too. But the meat roasts were not impressive. My accomplice scored hers a 6.95 out of 10, I’m going for a 6.55 out of 10. There is just too much that can and should be improved, in my opinion. But it does look good on Instagrim.
I think only the carrot and one of the roast potatoes were really good – I guess the chicken breast too. A chewy Yorkshire pudding, pointlessly flavourless gravy, plastic chicken drumstick, fruity cabbage – nah, this roast dinner wasn’t for me.
But there are plenty of positive reviews out there. And the vegan pie roast was apparently sensational. So they can do very good food.
Other things worth mentioning apart from the fact that my ears were still ringing several hours later…from eating in a fucking restaurant, include an unremarkable beer choice – I had a session IPA but it was pretty bland, I’d have thought maybe they’d have something more interesting on.
Service was respectable in the “thank you in advance for your 12.5% service charge that I don’t have to do much for” kind of way. Great service seems a thing of the past in 2021, or a rare beast, and I’m not sure that I am allowed to desire great service any more.
And it all looks pretty inside – as you might expect from my minor scathing. I do really want to like Parlour, they have a good heart, but from my visit, it needs a bit more sustenance to take it from gram to great. My minor scathing of their roast isn’t going to stop them from continuing to be a success, and a well liked venue. I might even go back for the cow pie one time.
Next week I’m going somewhere that doesn’t have an Instagram account. Or a Twitter account. Or even a fucking website. In London. In 2021.
Station: Kensal Green
Tube Lines: Bakerloo, Overground
Fare Zone: Zone 2
Loved & Loathed
Loved: The carrot was really nice, one roast potato of three was really good. The vegan pie was sensational, apparently.
Loathed: Yorkshire pudding like bouncy castle, fruity cabbage, one roast potato ridiculously tough. Made for Instagrim.
Where now, sailor?
Random roast review: Smokey Tails @ The Star Of Bethnal Green, Bethnal Green