Welcome to a Coronavirus-free zone. Well, you won’t catch it by reading this anyway. And with no tube trains available to me this weekend, my chance of catching it was reduced – so I plumped for a roast near to home, The Case Is Altered, in Eastcote.
“Where?”, I hear my beloved friends, readers and future recipients of my “where’s willy” DMs ask.
Zone 5. Yep, almost in Devon.
Something I don’t often get the chance to do nowadays is go to a proper country pub, and whilst still being far enough away from central London that someone complained on Google about them charging £5 for a beer (those were the days…), The Case Is Altered probably hasn’t been a country pub for a century or so thanks to the expansion of London.
Interesting point, you could build one million homes on around 3.7% of the not always very green Green Belt, all within 10 minutes walk of an existing train station. But, you know, instead of solving the housing crisis we could just campaign against every single housing development and then shout at evil Tories for there being so many homeless people.
Whoa. Sorry, bit serious. I think I’ve got a bit of a sore throat now.
You can tell this at least used to be a country pub in the 17th Century – and in case you wondered there weren’t lots of people in shorts stood outside drinking during the first weekend of March – I stole this photograph from the internet.
Thanks to engineering works, I had two choices to get to The Case Is Altered – either rail replacement bus or a walk of an hour.
It isn’t really much of a choice and with relatively pleasant, if chilly, weather, I set off on foot and took the slightly longer route which ended with a riverside walk.
Ahhh how beautiful is the world sometimes? Speaking of the world being beautiful, may I congratulate our Boris and Carrie in their joyous news (said in a Cilla Black accent) – I cannot think of a more deserving person to finally become a father. I am right in thinking that our Prime Minister has no children, yeah?
Crap. It was all going so smoothly, just like Priti Patel’s relationship with her department. Tell me – what would you do? Apart from demote Priti Patel to driving rail replacement buses.
Oh the struggles I go through for you. FYI – don’t search for “Cilla Black naked”.
Cilla Black Was Altered
Inside had that old world feeling as much as outside – part of it gloriously so, though the corner that I was sat in was quite low-ceilinged and somewhat ordinary. It suited me fine as a solo-diner.
It was also rather warm inside. Or was that me? Maybe I’m coming down with the Coronavirus fever? Though I thought Brexit was going to stop viruses coming from the EU?
My Corona arrived…I mean my apple juice arrived yet the waitress walked away whilst I opened my mouth to say, “can I order some food”. And it came with a plastic straw – could I be any further from Dalston?
The menu had a fairly normal mix of beef sirloin, pork belly and…what…”white” chicken? Am I so far away from Dalston that locals have to be reassured that BAME chickens are not invading them? Or are most chickens actually purple with green spots and I haven’t realised?
I asked the waitress for her recommendation, and she suggested beef or pork. So I ignored her and went for the chicken – curious to see how white chicken was superior, sorry – my inner racist again, curious to see how white chicken was different to non-white chicken. You know, I am actually racist when it comes to doing my washing – always separating whites from darks. Yeah, I’ve already got my coat.
And the waitress walked away before I could even mention my pea phobia.
Dinner took around 12 minutes to arrive. Thankfully, no peas.
I’ll start with the broccoli, which was pleasingly charred/roasted yet exceptionally tough and sadly too close to being inedible. I liked the idea – yes I do prefer my vegetables to have a little give in them but this was just too uncooked for anyone not resembling a Giraffe.
Two halves of a vertically-sliced roasted carrot were supplied – this was spot on in terms of viability. Not especially memorable (even just 3 hours later at the time of writing) but pleasing.
Guess I should share the photograph of the rest of the vegetables too.
I didn’t need that sentence, did I?
The above paragraph should be altered
The mashed swede was dreamy-creamy and had this tiny spicy tang – perhaps to my imagination and I couldn’t work it out. Paprika seems too obvious a choice.
I also liked the shredded savoy cabbage – quite peppery.
The roast potatoes were the star of the show yet were a rail replacement bus journey or so from being perfect. Outside they were crispy, herby and a little peppery – a massive win. Inside they were more solid than fluffy and overall had the start of a tired feel. Compared to most roasties these were still just about Premier League, if in a relegation battle.
Sadly the yorkie was effervescently pointless yet again. I’ve had worse, like, erm last week – the outside was dry and ploughy (made up word but hopefully you understand), the bottom softened by the gravy but still didn’t have a taste or texture that appealed.
Two sneaky, little chipolatas slid onto my roast dinner plate like they sneak into your dreams after reading my roast reviews. Effective but my dream of a sausage roast dinner remains unfulfilled.
My willy should be altered
I had deigned to ask the waitress for extra gravy when it arrived, despite her actually asking me this time if there was anything else I needed.
Once I did, the largest gravy boat within the M25 arrived – almost suitable for a family of northerners and would cause most central London chefs to have more of a panic attack than Sky News when announcing another Coronavirus case.
Yet I didn’t really take to the gravy. Yes it was proper gravy – it even had that rare gravy-like consistency (rare in zones 2 and 1 anyway). However it had that kind of odd, “is it red wine or is it tomato” kind of taste.
You’ll have tasted it before, though more likely in jus format.
Finally the “white chicken”. I didn’t get to work out what was white about it, unless it was the fact that the skin had peeled off.
It was just like any other chicken. It was mostly breast, quite moist and plump, with a wing – like most of the roast dinner it was respectably decent. I guess “white chicken” will just have to remain a mystery of nomenclature.
I went to The Case Is Altered with low expectations – perhaps the Metropolitan elite snobbery I have gained from spending much of my time in central London.
My expectations were bettered and this was a credibly decent roast – if it never particularly shined.
The closest it came to shining was the roast potatoes – crispy and seriously herby on the outside, yet went missing on the inside. The yorkie was forgettable and the gravy didn’t appeal to me.
The Case Is Altered
Service was perfunctory, and charged at 12.5% of course. I think I actually paid more for service than my drink, which was a shockingly cheap £1.50 for an apple juice. I’m used to paying double that.
I think this was a recommendation from a reader after the last time I had a roast dinner near my home, The White Bear in Ruislip which scored a possibly generous 5.08.
The Case Is Altered has altered my perception of my local area as a complete foodie-wasteland, despite Deliveroo’s best attempts at supplying shite cuisine. And I doubt Deliveroo is that bad in Dalston.
I’m scoring it a 7.17 out of 10. Improvements are definitely possible, but a hearty roast that I have at least some affection for. In a proper country pub. Hurry the fuck up, summer!
Then I walked part of the way home, this time along the main road and found out some other local delights – a place called Ladies Paradise (not quite what I hoped for on closer inspection) and a Wimpy. Yes – they are still a thing. How?
Yeah I do live in a foodie wasteland.
I then braved the rail replacement bus and was struck by the strongest spell of vomit since I last went into a Walkabout pub.
I chose my seat carefully, behind a cute young lady doing cross-stitching. You don’t see many men doing cross-stitching, do you? Not something I’ll ever do either, but she was definitely cute enough to swap pants with. Though according to Twitter you can catch Coronavirus from farts so I decided best not to ask her.
Next Sunday I’m kind of expecting to be in self-quarantine or for the whole of London to have been closed down due to Coronavirus. But there is a table booked, a late table in a relatively well-known restaurant, though not one known for it’s roast dinners. It could be a hidden secret – or it could be hidden for a reason.
You know, I think I’m coming down with something. I can see the headlines already, “legendary roast dinner reviewer caught Coronavirus from rail replacement bus”.
Please avenge my death. DESTROY RAIL REPLACEMENT BUSES.