The Alpaca, Islington

This Sunday I went to The Alpaca, for my birthday roast dinner. But it wasn’t supposed to be this way.

No, I wasn’t an accident, my parents wanted me (maybe not between the ages of 13 and 18) – but our original booking had an accident. We were booked in at Lore Of The Land. For my birthday roast.

The pressure is on when it’s your birthday and you’ve invited people – the roast needs to be very good, it needs to be fairly central for people to get to, the restaurant will demand deposits, I need to then arrange deposits, people might cancel at last minute, or there could be last minute additions.

And then, who the fuck do I invite? I do know quite a lot of people, but in the end I just stuck to inviting friends that have actively joined me for roast dinners over the last year or so…and that I’ve been talking to recently.

Someone called me when I was on the tube – but I didn’t recognise the number and was way too hungover to talk to anyone, so just assumed it was a recruiter checking that the global e-mail system still works.

I’d arranged to arrive early to cure my hangover, so popped into another pub, The Albany, for a recovery beer. And sat down to listen to my voicemail. It was from Lore Of The Land. They’d had a kitchen problem and couldn’t open today.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. And 9 other people were on their way.

The Panic

What to do? It would be slightly easier for you lot, as you could scroll through my maps page and see where I’d been that was good, and start calling. But I had to also make judgements as to whether they would be good. I want to impress a little on my birthday. No I didn’t get my nipples out.

I did however get this gift on my birthday:

50 Shades of Gravy (book)

Hmmm imagine that, a Spanish hottie tied to my bed with gravy poured over her bosom.

Anyway so I was panic scrolling my to-do list, then going onto websites to see if they had a table for 6 that I could book – as that is the most that most places will accept on the online booking systems, and The Alpaca said I could book a 6 – so I called them. Yes I used the telephone. To speak to someone.

OH MY GOD, YOU HAVE SAVED MY BIRTHDAY.

Hang on, you are serving roast dinners, right?

Then the pub we were having pre-drinks in, The Albany, had to close due to a burst water main outside.

Erm. Is it me?

The Rescue

It should be said that Lore Of The Land were very apologetic – they’d had a fire but thankfully one that should see them closed for a few days rather than a few months like the fire they had in 2021, and they’ve offered us a free roast dinner which they didn’t need to do.

The Albany which had to close due to a burst water main, were also kind and apologetic – we’d just got a round in and they were happy for us to finish it.

And of course, The Alpaca who saved the day. Ahhhhh the wonders of hospitality. But arrrggghhh get fucked with your mental health advice that we need to go back to the office…you sell addictive and depressive substances! Yes, you, City Pubs boss, “‘I think you can bring in a bit of flexibility to the office-work life, but it’s very important for office workers’ mental wellbeing as well to be back in the office and working alongside their colleagues”…and not at all so that we can drink more alcohol in their pubs. Aha. I see you.

Gosh I know the introduction is long today but did you see the exciting news this week?

The incompetent, lying, cheating fuckwit and his equally deluded father have finally fucked off.

Lying bastards - Ehab and Assem Allam.

Yes, Ehab Allam has finally left Hull City AFC.

You don’t care, do you?

Did I mention that it was my birthday? And the pandemic has been declared over? Again.

Happy birthday to…shall I just show you the roast dinner menu?

The adoration

The Alpaca, Islington, Sunday Roast Menu

The usual four were on offer – chicken, lamb shoulder, beef rump and pork belly. I was minded to go for the lamb shoulder but wavering towards pork belly – it was my birthday after all. I asked the waitress for her recommendation given my dilemma and she suggested I had the sharing roast to myself.

Given my already-huge and growing calorie intake during the weekend, I declined but she did persuade me to have the pork belly, “always the pork belly”. And only £16.00 which feels like a bargain.

I don’t really know how long our roasts took as I was still too busy fantasising over the Spanish hottie tied to my bed with gravy poured over her bosom. Oh and enjoying the company of friends. And beer.

The Alpaca, Islington, Roast Dinner

They know I’m Lord Gravy, right?

Starting with the vegetables which were a little light in quantity. The vertically-sliced half carrot was nicely roasted, tasted of gravy, because there is lots of gravy.

The parsnip-half was arguably undercooked, one accomplice called it raw but mine certainly wasn’t raw – it was very flavoursome though. But yeah, just needed a bit more cooking.

The cabbage – well, it went nicely with the gravy, had a bit of a crunch and was weirdly scattered all over the plate. Possibly I scattered it. I was pretty scattered.

The Alpaca, Islington, Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheese

We’d ordered cauliflower and broccoli cheese, which was actually worth the extra £4.50…ish – I don’t remember going to bed naked with my bedroom door open and the light on, let alone the exact price of the sides – though unlike that image, this was actually pretty sexual. Gloriously cheesy, fairly soft cauliflower/broccoli, and the sauce was sticky – so the gravy remained unpolluted.

The cuteness

Just two roast potatoes were supplied, though in their defence they were large. Not in their defence was the fact that they weren’t even close to being roast potatoes – no vague sign of roasting or crispy edges. Almost as if they had only been boiled. Yet they tasted nice and were freshly cooked (boiled?!).

The Alpaca, Islington, Sunday Roast

I’m struggling to remember the Yorkshire pudding – I’m now on day 4 of this hangover and I cannot fucking wait for Dry February. I think it was just pretty ordinary, slightly aged, slightly tearable texture and soft on the bottom.

The pork belly I do remember as it had problems. As you can clearly see, the top hadn’t been crisped up into crackling – what happened? Did they forget? Not know to do that? It was tough to cut too, though the knives were poor for cutting meat.

Yet inside was soft and succulent – close to the dream. Alas, the bottom was really quite tough and was saying to me “yeah I was cooked some time ago, happy birthday buddy”.

Finally, the gravy – believe it or not, I didn’t need to ask for extra. Some of you will moan about too much gravy, well those of you from down south will – but better too much than not enough. It actually tasted really good too, a slight richness to it, but much more an earthy meat-stock flavour to it.

The Alpaca

So it was a bit of a mixed outcome (a bit like my life), and that also showed across the scores given around the table, which ranged from as low as a 6.00 to as high as a 9.00. Most people scored it in the 7’s – 7.20, 7.50, 7.90, 7.60, 7.60 and two round 7’s.

You can probably see where my score is broadly going, as The Alpaca did some things very well, notably the cauliflower and broccoli cheese which was almost as sexual as my new fantasy. OK, existing fantasy.

Yet other important aspects really need some work – notably the not even vaguely roasted potatoes (albeit still tasted nice) and the pork belly, which was too tough on the bottom and seemingly anti-crackling, yet inside was succullent.

It’s not that far away from being excellent, but does need a bit of work to get there. I’m giving it a healthy 7.24 out of 10.

Also worth mentioning that the roast dinner was pretty affordable for London, though my final bill with alcohol still came to £95.22…hence being on day 4 of a hangover. A couple of times drinks orders didn’t turn up but otherwise service was good, especially given that they found a table of 10 at short notice to SAVE MY BIRTHDAY.

What? It was my birthday roast and there have been no boobs?

Mentions of boobs.

But no actual boobs.

Sorry.

But I do have this gift for you:

Matt Hancock swimming with blow job lips

I’ll be back next week. And the review won’t take anywhere near as long to write.

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Summary:

The Alpaca, Islington

Station: Angel

Tube Lines: Northern

Fare Zone: Zone 2

Price: £16.00

Rating: 7.24

Get Booking

https://www.thealpaca.co.uk/

Instagrim

Loved & Loathed

Loved: Cauliflower & broccoli cheese was sexual, gravy very flavoursome and LOADSAGRAVY

Loathed: Pork belly tough and rubbery in places, roasties didn't seem like they'd seen an oven - yet both were still reasonably nice.

6 responses to “The Alpaca, Islington

  1. Peruvian birthday parties use to last for five days:
    La vispera (the day before)
    El santo (birthday date)
    La Joroba (the day after)
    La Corcova (the second day after)
    El Anda-vete (the farewell day)

    This would definitely take the pressure off trying to celebrate on just the one day. You could have all the roasts on the menu, one per day, so no decisions would have to be made. Or you could go to 5 different places. Days 2-5 would probably be a bit of a blur. Happy belated birthday!

    1. Thanks Frances…though maybe that is why life expectancy is 5 years less in Peru, despite the amount we drink over here! 2 days of celebrations is enough at my age.

      For my 30th birthday I did consider 30 parties. Though I decided it was a bit egotistical.

  2. Scanning the menu, I noticed Rocket on there. I can’t, for the life of me, understand how you can eat the leafy part of a weed and call it edible. Yuck. But Happy Birthday, Your Lordship. Here’s to many more.

    1. The silly American? I feel you may not be unique.

      Thanks for your wishes – though I like rocket so much that I’d happily have it on a roast dinner. (insert shocked emoji)

  3. Sooo your dinner was £16 and your bill £95…what were you drinking, Crystal by the pint?
    Pork belly without crackling is a sin, not like a Christian eating gravy, but a real sin, a true crime for which there is no excuse!

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