The Carpenters Arms, Shoreditch

Spread the gravy

The Carpenters Arms. Apostrophe in Carpenters or not? Oh what the fuck do I care, I’m from Hull and I’d just tried to have a roast dinner at the place that I had BOOKED, The Horn of Plenty – only to turn up and find that it was closed for a month for refurbishment.

I was unamused. We were unamused. And we were hungry. Despite one of my accomplice’s vague attempts at taking us to the nearest chicken shop and hoping they sold gravy, we had to quickly hatch a plan, using the exceptionally handy maps page on my beautiful website.

Our first thought was to try The Culpeper, but they didn’t answer the phone and it seemed like the kind of place that might need booking in advance. We needed an ordinary pub, so I suggested The Carpenters Arms – it was only 11 minutes away so we allowed my sister to lead us there.

Are you the kind of person that frequents pubs with flat roofs? Because I am not. This used to be my local when I lived in Bracknell.

Would you drink in there?

Just pretend it has a flat roof

Again, walking through what seems to be our new favourite social housing project, a pub called The Carpenters Arms came into view. A pub with a flat roof.

Would you have a roast dinner in there?

If the flat roof doesn’t scare you, what about that font?

Was this really on my to-do list? No, it wasn’t. There was another place with the same name 15 minutes away…which used to be owned by the Kray Twins.

So we turned up to what is a small, space-challenged pub without a booking – thankfully they did have a spare table for us, the only table left, through the prison gates into a cold room – next to the fire door with a cold breeze coming through it, with classic rock playing over the speakers. Oh well, we were all pretty ravenous by this point.

No paper menus so I wandered through to the main bar to photograph the board (blame global warming) – beef, pork and lamb were all available at the curious price of £17.90. There was also pie of the day and fish cakes – were they roast dinners? Would fish cakes really come with gravy?

Fish cakes and gravy?

I did enquire what pie of the day was whilst ordering, but the person serving me was too distracted to hear me, so I just went for the lamb. It was order at the bar – which saves having to pay service charge for the honour of someone coming to your table to take your order.

Though I wasn’t exactly convinced that my order had been taken as the barman disappeared after giving me the card machine to go take some dinners – there was a sense of chaos behind the bar – and I waited a good few minutes for him to return to ensure he knew where we were seated.

The two accomplices’ roasts that I didn’t order turned up, and a few minutes later our roasts turned up.

It could be worse, huh? It could also have been warmer.

The plate was cold and the first thing I ate, a bit of parsnip was cold. One accomplice had already mentioned how surprised she was about her roast dinner being cold. Yes, we had cold roast dinners in a cold room of a pub.

Well, it is winter and it should be cold

The parsnips were a tad undercooked and yes, cold. Otherwise they were fine. Yes I actually used to live in Bracknell.

There were plenty of chunks of carrot, rather crunchy though not too much, and positively lukewarm.

No sprouts or mange – whatever that is, as per the promise on the board. There were a few lashes of πoast onion (I assume that is a pi symbol on the board) and a scattering of green beans – which were fine.

A standaπd amount of πoast potatoes and they weπe OK. Perhaps done a while ago – yeah on the cold side, but broadly acceptable – I will have far, far worse this year.

I quite liked the yorkie, heavenly small, a little crispy but enjoyable so. Cold, yeah but nothing new there.

The lamb was thinly-sliced, tender, cold and fatty – if you don’t like fatty meat then this wasn’t for you. I do. I am fat and I like fat except on Pornhub. Nothing outstanding, but it was decent enough.

Indian Ocean Dipole

The only thing close to outstanding was the gravy – you can take an averagely decent roast to higher levels with good, thick gravy and this was really tasty, beefy, fairly thick gravy. Advertised as homemade gravy and it actually seemed like it was too.

And look what happened when we ordered extra gravy:

Yes, they actually understood a request for extra gravy – a pot of the stuff for 4 of us as opposed to a tiny thimble.

This is a really difficult one to score. Half of me is wanting to score highly because of the proper homemade gravy, the tasty lamb and everything else being broadly decent.

But it was cold. The venue being cold was one thing, but the actual roast dinner was cold too – occasionally lukewarm. If you can take a decent roast dinner to higher levels from excellent gravy – you can also take it to lower levels by serving it cold.

Also the portion size was rather on the small side and we were all hungry enough afterwards to have a discussion about going somewhere for another roast dinner.

A cold, small roast dinner. I appreciate that we haven’t actually had any cold weather this winter until now, so maybe I should just be happy with having a cold roast dinner.

Scores on the brrrrrrrdoors

My accomplices weren’t so happy. One scored her lamb roast a 4 out of 10 – though after a chat she upgraded to a 5. Two others scored their beef roasts a 6 and 7, respectively – both preferring Palmers Restaurant last weekend.

If everything was as good as the gravy, it would be in the 8’s for me. If it hadn’t had been served cold then a 7.7 or so. The question is – just what to score the coldest roast dinner that I’ve ever been served?

I’m scoring it a 6.70 out of 10. Knocking a whole point off for being cold – this genuinely decent attempt at homemade-style roast dinner with proper gravy should score higher – though I suspect others would mark it down further. In my view, a cold roast dinner is better than a bad roast dinner.

And it was a good roast dinner – but it was a cold, small, good roast dinner.

Afterwards we walked around Shoreditch trying to find a cafe where we could have dessert that wasn’t vegan and had a spare table. We were not successful – though I have made a mental note to avoid places beginning with a ‘v’ going forwards. We did find a ukulele shop.

Next weekend is my birthday roast! Happy birthday to me. And I have no idea where it is either. I’m hoping for horns and plenty.

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Spread the gravy

4 Comments

  1. Loved the review made me laugh but i reckon if you went back and the food was warm the scores would rocket .

    Getting the gravy right is a skill !

    👍

  2. When I was still cooking Xmas dinners I used to pt the gravy in a thermos on the table. Unlovely but kept the gravy hot. Really hot gravy can warm everything else.

  3. I’m surprised there isn’t a picture of you smearing all that gravy all over yourself. It looks almost pornographic compared to the shite excuses for gravy you’ve been enduring lately. Once again, you’re doing all the best work for us.

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