Roast Dinner Awards 2023 – Part 2

Gosh is there a part 2 to my roast dinner awards? I could just forget about it and not do it – like anyone is really expecting me to finish, and like anyone cares about 2023 now it is April May.

It’s hard to find the time, you know.

What I should have done is had a week off roast dinners and…

Image via Number 10 under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

No, it’s not happening, Liz. Neither am I having a week off – only lockdowns, masks, Christmas and holidays can stop me. And even on holiday, I always look for a roast dinner for Roast Dinners Around The World.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to do a part 2 of a BBC series and play the highlights of the previous episode for 5 minutes (I guess their SEO plugin tells them to do that). Let’s crack on, see if I can actually finish it before summer starts ends.

Worst Vegetables

Two places come to mind that really pissed me off with their vegetable offerings.

Firstly we had The Grapes in Limehouse – one of those “must visit” pubs apparently, but actually a dingy, dirty dive that we are sending tourists to. Well, not me, I’m not.

What offended me most was the cauliflower – as refined as interview responses from Lee Anderson – boiled to a light extent, but mostly tough and unappealing. I didn’t finish finish my one floret.

Yet though not inedible, the winner of worst vegetables goes to Ganley’s Irish Bar.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

All the veg was very basic, but the roast came with thick gravy – thick until they added a reservoir’s worth of water with the soggy cabbage.

Best Vegetables

Last year…well, the awards that I published last year had a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize to variants of hispi cabbage.

Not this year. It would be boring to give the award to The Harwood Arms, yet they did the basics of carrots and broccoli really well.

You could have an argument for Fallow, a roast that disappointed in terms of expectations but was still very good – the carrot and swede really was superb – creamy and swedey with a very slight hint of herbs.

My winner of best vegetable for 2023, and we are not talking vegetables like Liz Truss’ economic policies, goes to (that was 2022 anyway) – The Dox & Fox in Wimbledon.

A Young’s pub. Serious.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

Of course the roast potatoes were shit, and yes, the Yorkshire pudding was spectacularly bad. Yet the celeriac puree was outstanding – a proper wow. Really creamy, rather peppery, proper wow.

Don’t bother going here for a roast dinner. Maybe keep an eye out to see if they do a celeriac puree shake or something.

Best Cauliflower Cheese

I’ve stopped ordering sides of cauliflower cheese as a rule, but when someone asks me if we should, then…well, you know I’m a people pleaser. I want to make people happy.

For sale on Ebay

See…I’ve literally only put that there to make a friend happy.

There’s a very good argument for 3 winners here. Whole Beast offered a cauliflower cheese that had been brined overnight, rubbed in their BBQ rub and smoked. With 6 types of cheese (allegedly), and cheese and onion crisps on top. Yet, as great as it was, it did overshadow the rest of the roast dinner.

Again, I could happily give this to The Harwood Arms who offered exquisite cauliflower cheese – proper, sticky, creamy, cheesy sauce too.

Yet the winner is Cue Point. Perhaps partly because I’m in love with Mursal, who runs Cue Point, seems to have a fiery attitude and stands up for liberalism and peace – always something I admire, though perhaps more pertinently for the purpose of this blog (as much as I am kinda political too) is promoting Afghan meats. And damn is Cue Point’s meat sexy.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

The sauce was so damn sexy, peeling away like cheese-strings, it made fantastic dipping sauce for the roast potatoes – and the cauliflower itself was cooked well, with a crunch.  We actually ordered extra as a dessert – it was that good.

Cue Point don’t get everything right, they sometimes seem to completely screw up looking at Google reviews, but most of the time their food, especially their meat – and here, the cauliflower cheese, are sensational.

Worst Yorkshire Pudding

I’ve got 7 places on my shortlist for this award – no other award comes close, even worst roast potato only has 4 places on the shortlist.

We used to have a jus problem in London, but it seems to be over and yes, I am taking full credit. We used to have a roast potato problem in London, but this is improving, and yes, I am taking full credit for it also.

Now, we have a serious Yorkshire pudding problem. I’m not giving the award for worst Yorkshire pudding to The Wilton Arms, despite describing it as “dried out shit”. I’ve love to give another “worst” award to The Grapes, for their fucking miserable roast dinner – but their Yorkshire pudding was only burnt and dry on top. The Duchess’ yorkie I described as “an over-sized Quaver of heatlampitis”. Still not quite bad enough to win this award.

The Trafalgar Tavern – a gnawing, rubbery texture, somewhat dry, somewhat burnt, right-wing – and yes, shit. But not quite shit enough for this award.

The Dox & Fox in Wimbledon, the surprise winner of an award for best vegetable was back to the usual Young’s pub form with their yorkie – outright inedible, bar the very bottom layer which was still around as crispy as burnt bacon. Still not the winner of worst Yorkshire pudding for 2023.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

It’s a real shame but I have to give this award to Renegade Urban Winery in Walthamstow, an otherwise very likeable roast dinner, plus superb venue. All publicity is good publicity, right?

Obviously this was inedible – though I tried. I don’t know what week this was cooked in, and it had quite possibly been cooked for a week too. Even the bottom part was burnt. This was just abominable…most of the ones I mentioned were, but this just made me laugh. Like…bin it, don’t serve it, give us an extra roast potato as an apology instead.

London – sort out your Yorkshire puddings!

Best Yorkshire Pudding

Ahhh I can be nice again.

Photo via Gage Skidmore under license CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

The yorkie that really surprised me was my journey to The Star Of The East in Poplar – properly soft throughout, a little eggy with some crispness to the outside, and almost definitely cooked the same day. I was impressed.

However, it wasn’t quite on the lines of the beauty from Cora Pearl:

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

I was really taken by the whole vibe of this very cute restaurant near Covent Garden – Cora Pearl was a famous courtesan, apparently, so the vibe is a slightly seedy yet glamorous boudoir, playful decoration with a touch of art deco – and I do like a bit of deco to my art.

Why was this Yorkshire pudding so good? Soft, fluffy and small – it was almost lickable inside. It was just really rather delectable.

Worst Roast Potatoes

Getting into the business side of things like we’ll get into the Donald Trump investigations over the coming years.

He’s not a potato though.

Definitely not a potato. Speaking of things that were potatoes before certain establishments got their hands on them and left them overnight to rot, let’s take a look at the worst roast potatoes of 2023.

Bistro Union offered two tough, chewy and stale roasties – yet one excellent one. I can only assume two were left over from the week before. It gets worse…of course it does.

I want to give more awards to The Grapes, for their roast dinner really pissed me off.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

Almost certainly deep-fried, and they smelt like they’d been fried in the same basket as fish. WTF?

Not quite as bad as The Green Goose though.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

Pretty much the chef had dumped a load of waxy, summer-style cheap potatoes in an oven tray and left them – some of them were grey inside and they tasted stale too.

Abominable.

Yet they still don’t win the award of worst roast potatoes of 2023. This goes to…the place where I arranged our group Christmas roast dinner, a place that I thought might be really good. Somewhere I’d been saving for special group occasion. The Old Fountain in Shoreditch.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

Thankfully there were only two of them each – but they were utterly grey and stale. They were soft, but didn’t actually taste like they’d seen an oven…or even a deep fat fryer. I don’t even want to think…did they really serve us uncooked roast potatoes that had gone soft?

Best We Cannot Actually Be Arsed To Attempt Roast Potatoes

I’ll try to make this award shorter – there is only one nominee this time.

It is sadly a thing that some pubs/restaurants have concluded that they are not going to attempt roast potatoes. Mostly this is unacceptable.

But I’ll make an exception for Cora Pearl.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

The crispy potatoes were arguably the highlight of the meal – basically they were layered sheets of potato, with some creaminess, roasted to bring them to crispy delightfulness then cut into potato-sized portions (I think they do their chips the same way).

Banging.

Best Roast Potatoes

You won’t be too surprised that I’m only considering two places for the nomination of best roast potatoes, even if I feel that the standard had improved during 2023, in the same kind of way that Jeremy Hunt’s handling of the economy improved from Kwasi Kwartankeditproper’s 11 hours as chancellor.

Firstly The Wilton Arms, who would have been serving perfect roast potatoes had I not turned up at 5pm – properly crispy on the outside, fairly soft on the inside though unusually hot. Hello microwave.

So, only just, the winner of best roast potato of 2023 is The Red Lion And Sun in Highgate.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. These were close to perfect, a tiny bit fresher and they would have been perfect.

Shit Meat

There’s only one place that comes to mind here but boy does it come to mind.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

And mouth.

Holy shit this was shit meat. Congratulations to The Green Goose for making me consider veganism for 20 minutes of my life.

I can imagine the conversation in the kitchen, “hey I’ve burnt the pork belly, what do I do?”. “Oh just put some thyme on top, the customer won’t be able to tell it is burnt then”.

It was burnt. How? Why? Why serve it? Why the hell are you sending that to a customer? Somehow it was even slightly pink inside yet totally overcooked.

Sure, I could have cut off the burnt part, but the rest of the pork belly was dry and overcooked too. This was just a true abomination.

Want to see it again?

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

Someone needs a new career, I’m afraid. And it ain’t me. Well, it will be in a few years once AI takes over.

Sexiest Meat

You’ll be pleased to know that there are no shortage of candidates for sexiest meat.

I’ve fawned over them already (well, maybe the owner also) but Cue Point’s beef brisket was just gorgeously smoked.

The Baring is barely getting a mention in the awards which is undeserved – it was my send-off roast before I moved to Spain for a month to not find a Spanish wife because I’m still ugly with a sun tan, but the beef here was sexually sensational. Yet it isn’t the winner.

Goodman’s rib of beef was excellent, though not a patch on the striploin which my accomplices had – so I’ll have to pass on them being the winner.

Barge East’s bank holiday Monday porchetta was excellent, if a tad salty, and the suckling pig at The Red Lion And Sun was also superb, juicy and tender, with sooooo much meat.

But there is only one winner, and it ain’t too surprising.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

The Harwood Arms. Of course. With 3 separate types of beef on one sharing platter – you pay for it, but fuck me it’s totally delicious and totally worth every pound.

The Cote De Boeuf was divine and very much worth the £12.50 each supplement. The fat was gooey and rendered perfectly, the meat itself was just totally melt in your mouth – succulent and juicy.

Also there was a cube of short rib, which was notably more fatty, but gloriously so in a kind of gooey way, topped with shallot and some kind of salsa verde type thing.

Also this:

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

Forget that the yorkie was burnt – they didn’t get nominated for that, but inside there was this concoction of braised beef, I think bone marrow, and some onion/fennel too.

You know when you go to a restaurant and they cook something nice, but you realise you could do that yourself? Well, there is no way I’d get the Cote De Boeuf that perfect, I wouldn’t know how to get the short rib that gooey, and the braised beef concoction – maybe I’d get something good, but I doubt that good. This was proper sexy meat, three types and all three significantly better than I could do myself.

Worst Gravy

Gravy standards have improved over my time reviewing roast dinners, and I am taking credit for it.

Yet there are some places like Browns that insist on still offering rich, wanky jus.

Or Bistro Union, who offered pretty much slightly browned water – a la any Young’s pub you might want to have a roast dinner at too.

But the winner is…

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

The Apollo Arms in Clapham served me a…yuck…jus, that was also yuck. It was sticky, it was sweet – it left an increasingly yacky aftertaste. It was sad.

Best Gravy

I did spend some time considering whether best gravy should come before best meat – but a great gravy really makes a roast dinner, and can improve lesser parts. A sexy piece of overnight smoked beef brisket ain’t improving those undercooked roast potatoes.

So really, this is the most important award – except perhaps best roast dinner. To be even nominated is truly sexy.

Image via Paula Satijn under license CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED

The Talbot in Dalston didn’t provide enough gravy, but what it did provide was really good, proper thick gravy.

Whole Beast provided…white gravy, which didn’t go down a storm on Twitter from people judging a photo – this is post Elon Musk, so you would have thought whites would have supremacy. However, it was made from the chicken juices, with a heavy smoky flavour – and…and…THICK. Were it not white, it may well have won the award.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

So the winner of best gravy 2023 goes to The Old Nun’s Head in Nunhead. They may not have wanted to give me any vegetables, but it was proper thick meat-stock gravy in all it’s glory. It was score-bumping gravy. It was quite possibly award-winning gravy…lo and behold it has won the award for best gravy of 2023.

Yeah I’m racist towards gravy. Not too black (Islington Townhouse), definitely not white – but all browns that aren’t sticky or sweet are welcome.

Worst Roast Dinner

Get in loser.

Meme

There were three memorably bad roast dinners in 2023, three deserved losers. But only one candidate can truly be the loser.

The Old Fountain in Shoreditch deserve to be crowned ultimate loser of 2023, for providing a tragic roast for our group Christmas meal. The worst roast potatoes in a long time – grey and uncooked. Yorkie too crispy, stuffing burnt, chicken dry. Meh.

But they saved themselves somewhat with decent gravy and a really good beer selection.

Again rescued by decent gravy, I still cannot get over how bad The Grapes in Limehouse was. Cauliflower solid, deep fried oversized “roast” potatoes that tasted a bit like fish, overcooked pork and a nasty aftertaste. Pretty grim venue too. Maybe time to be suspicious of places without an Instagram account.

If you’ve been reading, you’ll already know who the winner is though.

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2023

It doesn’t need words. Just look at those potatoes, and see how burnt the pork belly is. They actually served this. They even asked if everything was alright.

Yeah it’s The Green Goose in Bow. Just don’t go.

Best Roast Dinner

We are peaking.

Image via Feggy Art under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

I actually gave 14 places a score of 8.00 or higher in 2023.

The Prince in Stoke Newington was well up there, with succulent pork belly and thick gravy. The Baring in Islington provided sexual beef and fluffy insides to the yorkie – there was a lot of excellence to the place.

Cora Pearl were a surprise hit, especially with those award-winning not-roast potatoes. And the suckling pig at The Red Lion And Sun…all worthy runners up for best roast dinner of 2023.

But the winner…I had to book exactly 90 days beforehand, on the day they open their reservations. It was 3 courses for £65.00, though our Cote De Boeuf was an extra £12.50 each, and it has one of the Michelin star things.

The Harwood Arms in Fulham. A truly deserved winner of best roast dinner of 2023.

The Cote De Boeuf was sensational, the vegetables all excellent with different flavours, service superb and the yorkie was stuffed (albeit burnt).

So close to taking the crown from Blacklock, with a score of 9.10 out of 10. Astonishingly good.

Image via Ted Eytan under license CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED
(Visited 4 times, 1 visits today)

Where now, sailor?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *