Roast Dinners In London Awards 2023 – Part 1

Welcome to the Roast Dinners In London Awards 2023. Part 1. Yes, it is that long. Yes I do write that much shit. Yes, I know nobody gives a stuff about 2023 come January 2nd, and now it is 12th March and I’ve just written the opening sentence.

Let’s start with some statistics, because that’s an even more appealing way to get someone interested in a review of 2023 months after.

Rachel Riley spelling orgasmic on Countdown
Copyright – Channel 4

In the UK, I reviewed 42 roast dinners and handed out an average score of 7.29 – neither is a record, but both are respectable. The highest score that I handed out was a 9.10, the lowest score a 4.44 – and gosh that was a miserable roast that I’d love to forget about.

The average price I paid for a roast dinner was £22.69 – up 10% from 2022, which I guess is expected given my pay rise was, oooooh, 4.5%.

There were more roast dinners in east and south London than normal, 10 a piece, 10 also for central London. Just 6 each for west and north London – the easiest areas to get to. Don’t say that I don’t put lots of effort in for you.

Best Service

There are multiple reasons to go to Barge East that very few other restaurants can match – one, a love of small boats – is there anything more quintessentially British than being on a small boat? Nigel?

Two – they do roast dinners on bank holidays, which allows me to review more than I otherwise would.

But three – the service is really good. Very relatable staff, the kind that make you feel at home and want to have a chat with you – and nothing was too much trouble, including off-menu cocktails.

I don’t often admire service in pubs/restaurants, rarely is it anything more than perfunctory, but this was.

Best Plate

Best plate? Yes, you are reading this and you will keep reading it, and you will be back for part 2 when that is published hopefully closer to 2023 than 2025.

Roast dinner at The Duchess
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

It’s a bit unlucky that a pub with a score of 8.13 is only getting an award for “best plate”, but such is life. I’m still using Tupperware pots as bowls in my new flat. Such is life also.

Yet who can argue that The Duchess in Marylebone provided a damn cool plate? Especially in a world of rimmed plates, bowls, too small plates – The Duchess provided a right-sized plate with a funky pattern. And a damn good roast too.

Worst Plate

There is a clear winner for worst plate of 2023, though they do get other very honourable mentions elsewhere – The Red Lion And Sun, in Highgate.

Roast dinner at The Red Lion And Sun
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

I’m not sure that you can quite get how small these plates were – but given the plentiful food (much of the suckling pig had to remain on the sharing platter), these were annoyingly small plates to work with. Large starter plates – yes. Small main plates – yes. Huge roast dinner plates? Hence the award.

That suckling pig though…might get a mention later.

Do You Want Me In Your Venue?

Heresy approaching…

Brexit graph.

No, I’m not about to talk about how Brexit has still not led us to the sunlit uplands of Singapore-On-Thames, but I’m sure that is right around the corner. Keep believing.

Blacklock. This is their only mention in the awards, and it isn’t a positive one. If someone asks me where the best roast dinner in London is, and, you know what – this happens often, then I still say Blacklock.

But the service when I went to Blacklock in Covent Garden in January really wasn’t up to scratch. One waitress in particular had “I don’t want to be here” vibes – usually Blacklock is completely the opposite vibe. There was a mix-up over the vegan roast (we both checked before that they could cope with a vegan roast), and a rude comment from aforementioned waitress when we asked for some vegan gravy. They split the group into two completely separate tables, again despite confirming the opposite beforehand on the booking. They didn’t even check for allergies – which feels pretty key. Even the gravy was a bit too salty…along with the waitress.

I’ll still be going to Blacklock again though.

Best Stuffing

From get stuffed to getting stuffing.

It was New Year’s Day and I had the worst hangover ever. Again. That and my regular accomplice had gone to hospital, with something that turned out to be a tad serious. My world was falling apart.

Roast dinner from Kieran's Pop-Up
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

But then I had some life-saving stuffing from Popup With Kieran, who does irregular roast dinner pop-ups around Ealing. Herby, crispy on the outside – it may have been Paxo or homemade, I was in no position to judge, but this was as close to life-saving as stuffing was possible to be.

Best Atmosphere

Am I really giving the “best atmosphere” award to a venue with live jazz?

Inside Clapton Country Club
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Clapton Country Club is a gorgeous venue down an alley – most days it is a studio or a wedding reception, but on Sundays it does something really special. Sunday roasts.

It has an industrial feel, married with a glitterball and lights, the acoustics actually work nicely – I could hear myself despite having musicians. And I didn’t actually mind the musicians – some people will totally love the vibe.

Oh and it has a really good roast dinner too.

Most Creative

Really this award should go to me – who else could write enough crap to fill 42 reviews of the same meal over the course of a year. Plus the ones from Spain.

Hmmmm Spain.

Hmmm…

Hot Spanish woman
Image from Gokhan Altintas under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

Sorry, that’s clearly totally irrelevant to a roast dinner blog. Not sure what happened there.

Actually nowhere was really that creative in 2023, so you could argue that I’ve written this for totally no reason, like doing the whole awards, like my whole fucking blog. Seriously, why do I do this every week? Let’s not think any more. Thinking is bad.

Renegade Urban Winery in Walthamstow is my only possible winner here – root vegetable mash which had swede, carrot, tomato, onion and maybe even something like star anise. And sprout tops were the other vegetable – I didn’t even know they were a thing. Education…that’s why I do this blog.

Oh, and Amazon – get this back in stock NOW.

Furthest From Expectations

Ahhh expectations. Sometimes one’s expectations are too high – back in 2010, I thought Boris Johnson would be the perfect next leader of the UK after a decade of stability and economic competence from a David Cameron government. Hell, I even once thought I’d lose my virginity at university – I quickly discovered that the charms of Hullish chat-up lines like “duh yah want sex with meh” don’t work so well in the south…some people were actually there to get a degree.

There’s two that really come to mind here. Firstly, The Swan At The Globe, on Bankside. This is what they promise:

The Swan advertising a far better looking roast dinner than what we saw
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

And this is what we received:

Roast dinner at The Swan, with Suella Braverman laughing
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024 (with a bit stolen from Twitter)

Happy birthday, mother. We did actually have really good roast potatoes, and for some reason my mother enjoyed it, but this fell well short of expectations.

However, the winner here is the uber-hyped, Fallow.

Soooooo many Instagrammers had hyped Fallow up beyond any reasonable doubt that this was the Blacklock-beater, that I’d saved it for my 250th review.

Roast dinner at Fallow
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

It was broadly a good roast dinner, especially the vegetables – but with an overcooked yorkie, puny piece of pork belly and it being expensive for what it was – it was nowhere near God-level expectations that I’d been led to believe. Moral of the story – don’t use Instagrim.

Much Better Than Expectations

On the flip side, sometimes expectations are low or moderate, and surprise comes – a bit like finding a bottle of Punk IPA on the Costa Del Sol.

Speaking of which, I was about to move there and therefore doing a whole Goodbye Harrow thing. There isn’t many pubs in Harrow, even less that I’d want to go to. I’d heard The White Horse do decent roast dinners, so I went thinking maybe it was be a 7 at best, and if not then I can have a rant about how boring Harrow is.

Roast dinner at The White Horse
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

Proper amounts of seasoning, especially pepper, good gravy, creamy mashed potato, glorious chicken breast and a secret sausage or two. It was a roast dinner like your mum would make.

They even sold Neck Oil. Neck Oil…in Harrow, well I never. Proper craft beer here though in Croydon. And lots of weirdoes…says the person with a roast dinner blog.

Most Overpriced Roast Dinner

In a year where the average I paid for a roast dinner jumped to £22.69, there were a few that were a tad eye-popping.

The Barley Mow in Mayfair…yeah I know, Mayfair, but still…£30.00 in 2023 for this:

Roast dinner at The Barley Mow
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

It’s a very nice pub, with a respectable nothing-special roast dinner. Which costs £30.00.

I don’t mind paying £30.00 for a great roast dinner, I don’t mind paying £30.00 (or more) for a really good experience – I paid £62.50 for a roast dinner at The Harwood Arms and that is going to get a lot of mentions in part 2, and was worth every penny.

But this was nowhere near £30.00’s worth of quality or experience. Plus service charge.

Ugliest Roast Dinner

I’m not amazing at presentation myself – be it food on a plate, or my somewhat ugly face.

And then some places think that I should do the presentation for them, not knowing that it is going to end up on a blog…Whole Beast, looking at you:

Ugly roast dinner from Whole Beast
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

That was actually a very good roast dinner…but does it look it?

However, the award is going to The Roebuck in Chiswick, who presented me (and the winner of ugliest roast dinner really should be something I’ve had no hand in arranging) with this veritable Mark Francois’ arse of a roast dinner:

Ugly roast dinner at The Roebuck
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

Gravy all around the edge, small roast potatoes marooned in watery liquid, some weird pork/stuffing/crackling combination, yorkie on the edge hanging off. Not much thought went into this…it wasn’t a bad roast dinner per se, but it looks ugly yo.

Nothing To Do With Brexit But We’ve Run Out Of Vegetables

Believe it or not, some non-vegetarians like vegetables.

Sadly, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realise that my body appreciates a chunk of broccoli more than it does a chunk of pork belly. A bit like when you are younger, you think “whoa cracking pair of tits” but then 20 years later you think “hmmm good sense of humour, no debt and seems mentally stable”. Granted I’m yet to get to the age where on Tinder women think, “well he might have a good sense of humour”.

Despite the efforts of The Swan with their one long carrot, there is an even greater winner of the nothing to do with Brexit but we’ve run out of vegetables award.

Roast dinner at The Nun's Head
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

You could argue The Swan deserve this award for one solitary carrot, given that The Nun’s Head at least attempted 4 different types of vegetables, but the amount of each was so laughably puny that I had to give it to The Nun’s Head. One small carrot, two green beans, three small leaves of cabbage and one small floret cauliflower cheese.

NOTHING TO DO WITH BREXIT, ALRIGHT?

Brexit wine festival, with a long queue for £9.89 a pint wine, and no queue for £9.99 750ml of wine.
Meme from Twitter

Best Dessert

And finally for part 1 of the Roast Dinners In London Awards 2023, something to hopefully leave you salivating for more, like I do every week (despite the fact that Google Analytics tells me most visitors are new visitors) – best dessert.

I rarely eat dessert because I’m trying to be less fat and not get diabetes. Worthy goals.

Blood orange trifle at The Harwood Arms
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

You’ll hear more about The Harwood Arms in Fulham, in part two, which was an exceptional experience and so close to being the best roast dinner EVER.

This award is for the best dessert – granted it has very little competition, I didn’t eat any cake or chocolate after eating this in July, until November/December.

Blood orange trifle – so creamy, the blood orange punchy – every bite was different in terms of the combination of flavours. This was just wonderful.

And I’ll leave you on that note of joy and positivity until I get around to writing up part two – we might even have a new Tory government by then.

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Where now, sailor?

Random roast review: The Windmill, Clapham

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