Christmas is over. Long live ordinary Sunday roasts – and this week I went to The Anglesea Arms in South Kensington.
I’m back from discovering that my Grandma still hates the Japanese because of the war, and that my uncle still uses phrases such as “darkies” and “chinks” with total bafflement when challenged.
Ahh my fellow northerners. At least they voted Tory this time.
So after missing the beauty at The Beast of Brixton last Sunday, I was particular eager for a roast dinner. Many folk seem to report a multitude of roast dinners over the Christmas period – I managed just one in 12 days. Even my work Christmas do was at Dishoom. I wasn’t even bothered about a good roast dinner this Sunday – I just wanted a roast dinner, in a proper pub.
We had an added complication of having bought tickets to go see our “football” team, Hull City AFC, at QPR – a purchasing decision that I bitterly regretted after the dross I was subjected to at the game on Boxing Day.
So it had to either be an early or late roast dinner – we plumped for an early roast – and it had to be kind of central. The random number generator at approximately the 22nd attempt offered us The Anglesea Arms.
Ho Fucking Ho
And then, TFL struck. After around 10 minutes of very slow queuing to change from the Jubilee Line to the Piccadilly Line at Green Park, with no end in sight to the queue in the tunnel – I gave up and instead decided to get the Victoria Line to Victoria, so I could get the Circle or District Line to South Kensington. I love having superior intelligence.
Upon arrival at Victoria, I discovered that the Circle and District lines were closed for engineering works. Of course. I knew that. I love having superior intelligence.
Cue a 40 minute walk to The Anglesea Arms.
Yeah, I could have got the Piccadilly line from my house instead. So you could blame my decision making process instead – and you wonder why I often let the random number generator decide my life.
The Anglesea Arms certainly met my desire for a proper pub. It was a very pleasant walk through upmarket Chelsea, along the King’s Road, past loads of shops that I cannot even afford the entrance fee for – I did see the price of a dress in one shop that I walked by – £549. On sale too. No amount of sequins could persuade me at a cost of 30 roast dinners in London (not including service charge).
Oh yeah, the pub. It wasn’t exactly as opulent as the surrounding houses, but it had a real charm inside – a proper old school, old fashioned kind of pub – which admittedly needed a little care here and there. But most importantly – it was a boozer. At £6.65 a pint. Crikey. Though I do have expensive tastes…I wonder if they have my size in that dress?
The menu wasn’t immediately forthcoming to my sister who had to chase one whilst she waited for me. I had the idea of having beef in my head on the way, mainly due to not having had it for a while – but decided to go for the turkey, mainly because of the promise of stuffing and chipolatas, which is also the name that my imaginary ex-girlfriend gave my willy.
We both ordered turkey (well, it was ordered when I was speed window shopping) and it arrived after 20 or so minutes.
We probably have similar reactions. Mine was, “where the fuck is the rest of it?”. What was yours?
More food than good headings
The vertically sliced half a carrot was pretty nice – softly roasted, though I only detected a hint of honey and none of the promised ginger – might have to add ginger when I cook carrots next as I do appreciate the idea.
Definitely not ace was the parsnip puree. It tasted oddly bland and wasn’t even the same colour as parsnips, unless they’ve turned orange due to global warming.
A small handful of sprouts were fine, but those from my Dad’s allotment at Christmas were absolutely banging.
It was at this point that my sister realised that not only was the portion size small – it was actually missing the chipolatas.
Seemingly missing also, but hidden until the turkey were the roast potatoes – assumedly hidden in shame by the chef. These were as anaemic and undercooked as any I had had all year – well, I probably have had worse, but these were crap. Dry and crap.
The Yorkshire pudding didn’t look much but was reasonable. A little fluffy – broadly acceptable.
Once the chipolatas arrived (actually pigs in blankets) – we had 5 to share between two of us. Why not 6? You know, divides easily? These were nice.
My initial disappointment was being tempered somewhat, and the turkey was reasonably good too. Not a huge amount – mostly one fairly thick slice of breast and some little bits. My mother gave me 4 times as much on Christmas Day despite banging on about my weight. Anyway, it was fairly plump and fresh – a tad dry but nothing overbearing, with fragments of stuffing giving it more flavour.
Said stuffing was inside the turkey, and I’m not really sure you can advertise this meal as coming with stuffing? Can you?
Finally, the gravy. It was watery piss, but it was gravy. It tasted as gravy should and I prefer watery pissy gravy to red wine jus of any consistency. You may not.
The Anglesea Arms.
And that’s it. All my roast dinners of 2019 have been eaten and reviewed. And I guess it was rather suitable that it was much of a muchness – with notably shit roast potatoes.
The spuds were the only real disappointment – but nothing particularly shone either. Despite the small portion size (which at least meant it was less likely that I’d need a shit at the football), it wasn’t especially disappointing.
My initial disappointment on quantity faded as I ate, which I guess is a positive.
Service was a bit indifferent – they hadn’t included the two beers on the bill and I was feeling honest – yet the nonchalance for my honesty made me regret not taking a free beer. The customer stood at the bar was more impressed than the barman.
However, we did get a free box of matches with the bill. Yay. 10 year-old me would have been delighted.
It’s been a strange year for reviewing roast dinners. I’ve had far more roast dinners in the bottom 30 of the league table than the top 30 – yet 4 of the top 5 were from this year too.
So it feels apt to finish with something that is part-disappointing, part-decent. I’m scoring it a 6.85 out of 10 – my accomplice scored it a 6.9. Oh and our football team won – a last minute winner despite being shite.
The Anglesea Arms is definitely worth visiting for a drink or three if you are in the area – a proper boozer. But I doubt you’ll be running here for a roast.
Next Sunday isn’t expected to be anything special – just an ordinary pub. Although I realised today that I agreed to cover being on call for someone this weekend. I am such a twat sometimes. Most times.
In the spirit of New Year’s messages, such as Jeremy Corbyn reminding you that he is the resistance to Boris Johnson (in much the same way as I am the resistance to lesbianism), I would like to wish you all a HNY – and I hope you have more roast dinners next year, follow my advice more, share my blog more – oh and have more proper gravy.
Peace and sloppy kisses from my gravy-covered tongue. See you in the next decade.
The Anglesea Arms, South Kensington, West London
Station: South Kensington
Tube Lines: Circle, District
Fare Zone: Zone 1