The Alma, Canonbury

Please note that this review is from December 8, 2020 and may be out of date...restaurants sometimes get better, get worse, employ a new chef or end up with new management.

I’m back! A bit like Donald Trump come 2024, it is almost as if I have never been away. And this week I went to The Alma in Canonbury.

He isn’t going away is he? I feel like we are never going to hear the end of “stolen election” – it’s a bit like me banging on about masks not working and Brexit being a stupid fucking idea. Except I have evidence.

Speaking of Brexit, remember when People’s Votes were cool and I used to enthral the whole of Twitter with my People’s Roast Votes? The Alma came runner-up a couple of years back.

So I was aware that I was going to a rather beloved establishment, and one that claimed to have award-winning roasts. Hmmm. There is only one person in London that should be giving awards out for roast dinners and they go by the name of Lord Gravy. Fuck Time Out. ME. I am the chosen one. I have chosen myself to be the supreme being of London’s roast dinner reviewing establishment. I GIVE THE FUCKING AWARDS OUT.

Though what the hell am I going to write about in the 2020 awards? I did nearly start writing them in May. Actually I did start writing. Well, I wrote some notes and I really wish I kept a link to the tweet that I was going to use as an introduction as that is going to be a bastard to find come the end of December.

I thought I had a spreadsheet too but I cannot find it. I can find my Japan Plan spreadsheet which came in really fucking handy this year. Konichiwaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Not sure why I’m so sweary today, other than thinking about Brexit for a little while. Started your Brexit stockpile yet? Some people laughed at me in 2019 for doing so but it came in fucking handy in March.

Granted my Brexit stockpile is mostly ketchup, olive oil and summer fruits squash. And some tinned fruit that I probably won’t remember to eat before the best before date. Maybe I should buy some spam? What do the anti-vaxxers stockpile? I assume they are preppers? Pepper, yes must make sure I have enough pepper.

Who am I?

Something strange happened to me on the tube on the way for a roast dinner. Someone sat opposite me. OPPOSITE ME. On the Metropolitan line – so this is quite a close encounter and he wasn’t wearing a mask. Well, until I looked at him when he got one out of his bag and put it on his chin.

Regular readers will appreciate the irony given that I think masks are bullshit, though I stress that I love 5G and want ALL of the vaccines. I was told to wear masks to avoid a second lockdown. I did (half-heartedly and full of moaning). And here I was with everyone’s corona nightmare – some smelly bloke choosing to sit directly opposite them in their breathing space.

Of course, I couldn’t move seats. That would be waaaaaaay too awkward, and also would feel like I was defeated. So I got off the tube and pretended that it was my stop. Possibly the most British thing I’ve done since…erm…I last had a roast dinner.

So, The Alma. In Canonbury – not the one in Angel. Or the one in Wandsworth. Or the one in Crystal Palace. I’ve been here before – it is a movie themed pub with movie posters stuck around and some old cinema seating in places – which I decided probably weren’t best for eating a roast dinner on.

It is almost a novelty to go to a pub with its own personality – lacking the stripped-back brick walls and varying shades of teal. It definitely has its own personality and you know what else was a real novelty? The government rules for hospitality finally making sense. Joke! However, roast dinners at The Alma were priced less than £15 (except beef). When was the last time I paid less than £15 and wasn’t in zone 4 or some other dimension?

The Alma, Canonbury, Roast Dinner Menu
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2021

I should probably crop out the corner of my thumb to keep my anonymity.

A tricky choice. I fancied pork belly before I arrived but it wasn’t on the menu – and I didn’t fancy pork loin. I decided against beef, even though I love rib eye, because I had beef the previous two weeks and will be having it next Sunday also.

The barman recommended the mixed roast, which would have solved my dilemma – but I’ve lost 4kg since lockdown2 and it just seemed too much food. Yeah, I’m getting into shape ready to find mi esposa Españal de sexy in IBIZA next year. LOLZ.

What am I doing?

The answer to the question by the way is January 2019, at least for a decent roast. You’ve forgotten the question already, haven’t you?

Our roasts didn’t take too long to arrive, maybe 10-15 minutes. We sat there nursing our non-alcoholic beverages (sigh…but need my Spanish wife) and talking Christmas plans – or the lack of them. Sigh. Oooh Brexit soon.

The Alma, Canonbury, Roast Dinner
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2021

Yeah, I see you counting

So, the chef at The Alma likes pepper. So do I – I must remember to stockpile it.

It felt like the vegetables were perhaps cooked together as they were all fairly heavily peppered. Carrots had a bit of crunch to them, the broccoli was nice albeit just one little stem, and the cabbage was more numerous – nicely wilted and again heavy on the pepper.

Salt notable too, but thankfully not too much so – and all the vegetables, especially the cabbage, working nicely with the red wine jus. More on that later.

By the way, I’ve finished my Christmas shopping. A ha ha ha ha ho ho donde estan las putas.

Queue for Harrods
Photograph stolen from the Daily Mail but they stole our fucking future by campaigning to leave the EU, so fuck you, Daily Mail. Then again, they probably stole the photo too. Fair use?

And why do half of the guys have the same coat? And all have the same hairstyle?

Am I in a roast potato wonderland?

It felt like I was walking in a roast potato wonderland. 5 roast potatoes. And you’ll never guess what…

No, still no Brexit deal. No, Trump is still a manchild. No, I still don’t have any matches on Spanish Tinder. No, Tesla’s share price keeps rising. Give in?

The roast potatoes were quite crispy on the outside and quite soft on the inside. Yes – behold the miracle. They weren’t perfect – only crispy on one side and I’ve had fluffier. Yet they were better than most pub roasties and seemed like they had actually been made on the same day. Perfection, no, but very good.

The Alma, Canonbury, Sunday Roast
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2021

The Yorkshire pudding was as flat as a pancake. Yet it was more enjoyable than most – that soft, eggy feeling, albeit a tad oily – and again, importantly, felt like it had been made close to ordering time. It was fresh – it hadn’t been stuck under a heat lamp for hours. Zero points for looks, but high points for enjoyment.

Plenty of lamb was provided. The earthy taste was brought out nicely with a hint of rosemary flavour – there was a bit of fat inside, it didn’t especially detract from what was a nice piece of lamb, just occasionally needed a little extra chew – but mostly it was pretty tender.

My accomplice had the chicken, which she highly rated – noting that the chicken skin was really crispy. A bit like Phillip Green.

Finally, the alleged red wine jus. Alleged, because to me, this was more of a gravy – it had the consistency of a gravy – it had a consistency us northerners need to keep us alive. The red wine flavour was quite subtle – red wine jus can often overpower a roast, but this didn’t – and the pepper came out more then the red wine. Very, very good. I just wished I had brought a slice of bread with me to mop up the gravy.

This was surely not reality?

OK, The Alma can keep their award. This was a very, very good roast dinner.

All of it was enjoyable, though the smile on my ugly face after was perhaps more down to the excellent red wine jus and the 5 (yes, five) fairly crispy roast potatoes. I can really see why The Alma is loved as a pub.

My accomplice scored it an 8.30 – and I am going to do exactly the same. Which as things stand makes it the 15th best roast dinner in London out of 155 – I’ve only had two better roasts out and about in 2020.

And did I mention that it only cost £14.50?

Just think – next Sunday’s roast dinner could be the no deal special. Or if those fucking experts are right then simply no roast dinner (I might be coming round to Michael Gove’s way of thinking on experts).

Assuming we don’t go into Tier Fucking 3, it’s almost certainly my last roast dinner of 2020 as Christmas dinner is not a roast dinner…what?

Urgh, British public.

Anyway, Sunday 20th I’ll be staying the fuck away from everyone so I can go teach my mother how to cook sprouts properly and Sunday 27th I’ll be heading back to London and my driver is refusing to go for a roast.

So fingers crossed next Sunday is the best roast dinner of 2020. It actually could be. It should be one of the best.

They are going to fucking put us in Tier 3 before then, aren’t they?

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The Alma, Canonbury

Station: Canonbury

Tube Lines: Overground

Fare Zone: Zone 2

Price: £14.50

Rating: 8.30

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: 5 roast potatoes - actually crispy on the outside. And the red wine jus was more of a gravy - notably delicious.

Loathed: Hmmm. Well the yorkie didn't rise and more than one piece of broccoli would have been good. Struggling to moan here.

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