St John’s Tavern, Archway

NSFW: Warning - this review may not be safe for work due to female frontal nudity on a TV screen (not especially visible)

It was time to welcome Lord Gravy back to life in the UK, with a roast dinner at St John’s Tavern in Archway.

Ahhhh feel those gravy vibes.

I love going on holiday, but there’s something satisfying about returning to a land of M&S sandwiches, mind the gap announcements and a lazy Sunday afternoon eating a large roast dinner, accompanied by a couple of nice beers. Bliss. At least it is when it goes right.

You may have noticed that there was no addition to Roast Dinners Around The World from Palermo in Sicily. I didn’t find a chicken shop, I didn’t find a Starbucks, and, no, I didn’t find anywhere professing to sell British food. Hell, I didn’t even find an Indian or Chinese restaurant in Palermo. They seem to be into their Italian food there.

Tell me you wouldn’t eat all of that gorgeous Italian-ness.

Whilst in the UK, we can only experience the best of British cuisine on a Sunday, possibly because Henry VIII named it “Sunday roast” and since Brexit everyone is scared of the government’s Henry VIII powers and therefore Sunday it is (possibly this has the same level of truth as The Daily Express).

Yet what is the most popular page of RDLDN that people visit via Google searches?

List of popular searches for my website - top being "where to get a roast dinner not on a Sunday"

Saturday roasts will become a thing, if I have anything to do with it. And if my boss has anything to do with it – they seem to prefer the talkative Tuesday version of me to the grunting post-Sunday Funday version of me. Quite how people do jobs that involve talking on a Monday, I do not know.

St Rishi’s Cabin

St John’s Tavern is a rather large pub and I assume recently renovated – a quick Google search suggests they are in the middle of renovating – they aren’t, and they need to update their meta description, or maybe just have a meta description in the first place.

Google search for St John's Tavern which says "coming soon".

It was quiet inside, especially in the pub half which was almost scarily quiet – is there a pandemic coming that I don’t know about? Thankfully the politely spacious dining room had more of a buzz to it, decorated with various artworks that were for sale, mostly featuring flowers and trees. Pretty, and I do need some art but also I need some curtains especially now it is getting lighter.

We noted the grill in the kitchen which was flame-cooking the beef and some sausages too, on occasional.

Roast dinner menu at St John's Tavern, Archway
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

Considering it was quite an upmarket renovation of St John’s Tavern, I was surprised to see the prices for roasts under £20.00.

Alas, they didn’t come with any sides. I’m not sure about this concept – on the one hand it does make things a little more interesting to be able to pick your own vegetables, plus if you are on a date and your opposite orders new potatoes, you know that is the final date.

But also I can see this as a way to bump up the prices – why charge £25.50 for a roast dinner, when you can charge £18.00 for a roast dinner…oh and £1.50 for a Yorkshire pudding and £6.00 for some carrots. And maybe people order too many sides…because they do, and I do. Actually, I didn’t this time, but normally I would.

St Jacob’s Compassionate Corner

One of my accomplices wanted the chicken, and given that it was a sharer, I agreed to share it with her – as long as she did the slicing.

Chill…I did the gentlemanly thing and sliced the chicken, which was thankfully easy to do. I forgot to photograph the cauliflower cheese…well…it was an awkward reach.

So, starting with what you could see which is the shared bowl of carrots and parsnips – the two chunks of roasted carrots that I had were roasted on the softer side, flecked with cumin seeds which I did appreciate.

The parsnips, alas, needed a bit longer in the oven than the carrots and were therefore a little undercooked – nothing too much, also with the cumin seeds.

The purple sprouting broccoli looked more like tenderstem broccoli to me, it was also a bit too al dente, and had an odd flavour – neither chilli or garlic as advertised, something more like miso, though I’ve had miso like twice so don’t quote me on this. What I can say categorically is that none of us really liked it.

St. Nicola’s Retreat

Nothing especially amazing so far, but the cauliflower cheese was excellence – soft enough cauliflower without being mushy, and a proper cheesy, creamy mixture, replete with mustard seeds. You can skip the broccoli when you visit St John’s Tavern, but the cauliflower cheese is a must.

Chicken Sunday roast at St John's Tavern, Archway
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

Standard three roast potatoes but all were large – perhaps too large as they were quite dry and in places not especially cooked through. Also they had a rather grey appearance – they didn’t taste off, though neither did they taste especially fresh either. Bonus points for some crispy edges.

Mostly the Yorkshire pudding was enjoyable, soft to the bottom – at least once soaked with gravy. Though the top was a bit burnt – not to the point of being inedible, but notable enough.

By the way, you know how if I move to Spain I’m going to have a blog called Tapas Or Crapas, written in Spanglish? Have I actually told you this before? Not that I’m ever moving to Spain as obviously I’m loving life in Croydon so much, but I’ve decided that if I move to Sicily I’m going to start a blog called Pizza or Pizzo. I’m sure the mafia won’t mind. I did spend a bit too much of my holiday in Palermo going, “mafia?” to my accomplice.

By the way, the chicken was banging here. Plump, corn-fed, easy to slice. Totally yummy chicken, though the breast arguably just a tad dry.

Beef roast dinner at St John's Tavern, Archway
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

My accomplice’s beef was also excellent – roasted on the open fire pit that I was admiring in the kitchen. Damn it…I’ve just seen that yet again she had better roast potatoes than me. What is this?

Finally, we had good gravy too. Proper meat-stock kind of gravy, a reasonable consistency. Happy with life, happy with my holiday and happy with this gravy.

St John’s Tavern

Other things to like about St John’s Tavern include them probably winning award for the best beer of the year – serving a Polly’s Pale Ale, wow. Someone really knows their beer here.

Also the camp Frenchman serving us was delightful – service was good throughout, professional yet with a quirky friendliness.

There’s plenty to like at St John’s Tavern – there was some excellence about the roast, including the chicken, gravy and cauliflower cheese – though also some areas for improvement, such as the roast potatoes…shock horror. Not entirely sure what that broccoli was about (I would have preferred hispi but I left the sharing plate choice to my accomplices), parsnips needed longer too.

But overall, this was a very good roast dinner – I’d love to come back one time and try the Iberico pork on the grill, and I wish I wasn’t still 10kg overweight and could have dessert every week – as their crumble looked delicious as it came past me.

Accomplices scored it a 7.50 and a 7.85, respectively, and my score was a 7.83 out of 10. Have I really had 5 very good roast dinners in a row?

Next Sunday I’m going somewhere that requires bravery, and stamina. I’ll leave you with dreams of infinite gravy boats…

A lot of gravy boats waiting for action.
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024
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St John’s Tavern, Archway

Station: Archway

Tube Lines: Northern

Fare Zone: Zone 3

Price: £25.50

Rating: 7.83

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: Excellent cauliflower cheese with mustard seeds, chicken was plump and corn-fed, gravy good too.

Loathed: Roasties a bit grey and dry, broccoli tasted weird.

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