The Clissold Arms, East Finchley

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Welcome back to Roast Dinners In East London. This week I went to The Clissold Arms in East…oh East Finchley. Yes for a change I went somewhere not East London.

I’m a bit wary writing this on the day of the Queen’s funeral. Do I need to change the background colour of my website to black? Do I need to post the images of the roast dinner in black and white? Do I need to be as mournful as the BBC…or as miserable as my regular description of roast potatoes?

I was quite amused to see that some folk have renamed the BBC to Mournhub.

Alas I was disappointed to see the lack of commemoration from Pornhub themselves – not one post on Twitter mentioning the Queen. Well, THE Queen. If Jimmy’s Dildo Emporium can express their sadness, you’d have thought Pornhub could too.

Tweet from Jimmy's Dildo Emporium expressing their sadness at the passing of the Queen.

It’s a long time since I’ve been to East Finchley, but I have actually been here – an accomplice used to live in the area some years ago. I’m kind of surprised that therefore I’ve never been in the area on duty, but here we are. In fact, I’ve never been this far up the Northern Line on duty.

And it was to be The Clissold Arms that took me to these reaches on duty – recommended to me a few years ago and has hung around on the to-do list ever since.

Life goes on and we pass through

The Clissold Arms is now actually a Greek restaurant that happens to sell roast dinners on a Sunday. Which is kind of convenient as I nearly booked a holiday to Athens this coming weekend, though I’ve instead booked a holiday to some country nobody has heard of – North Macedonia.

Formerly known as the Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia…maybe that now rings a bell? But the Greeks were upset as they have a region called Macedonia in Greece, so FYROM renamed themselves North Macedonia, and I am renaming them the Former Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia.

Oh and another exceptionally tenuous connection is that Greece’s economy used to be a total mess, and now the UK economy is going down the toilet, all thanks to how badly the treasury have run the economy during the last 12 years of Conservative government.

Quote from article showing how much poorer the UK is getting.

To be fair, the Tories ran the economy comparatively reasonably well for the first few years of their hopefully not-too-much-longer-to-reign-over-us, but then the treasury took over around the time of the Brexit vote, and have run it badly ever since.

And by 2030 we’ll all be running car washes in Poland. Great sausages in Poland though.

Anyway, The Clissold Arms is now a Greek restaurant inside, with a kinks room (wahey!) and London’s most eclectic (gosh I do roll my eyes when people describe their music taste as so) collection of garden furniture.

The Clissold Arms, East Finchley, extreme mismatch of chairs outside and plastic flowers in hanging baskets

And check out those glorious hanging baskets.

Oh I think some 90’s indie band met here called The Kinks, hence the kinks room. Possibly older than the 90’s but don’t ask me though, as my music taste isn’t eclectic – I only like Romanian minimal techno. Maybe the odd disco track with sufficient MDMA. Am I allowed to mention drugs today? Do you think anyone was doing coke at the funeral?

Days of sunlight, days of tears

Clearly a stylist has not seen The Clissold Arms, though thankfully all the staff were wearing black, assumedly in tribute to The Queen.

Everyone working here seemed to be Greek, from their accents and their pushing of the moussaka – ON A SUNDAY.

The Clissold Arms, East Finchley, Roast dinner menu

Choices on the menu were sirloin of beef, pulled lamb shoulder or a basketball-playing chicken. Yep, no mention of vegetarian or vegan roast options, though the rest of the menu was huge so if you were so vegetably-inclined then you might need to cope without a roast. Or maybe e-mail and ask.

I went for the pulled lamb shoulder at £19.50.

The Clissold Arms, East Finchley, Lamb Sunday Roast

Our rather massive roasts arrived within around 15 minutes or so.

A plethora of thinly-sliced roasted carrots were decent, with a vague honey taste.

The parsnips were not so decent – quite anaemic and leathery, though most parsnips I’ve had in recent weeks seem to be pretty dreadful so I’m not sure how much blame to ascribe here, even the ones I had in my vegetable box cooked up horribly. Still…there was a decision to cook them anyway, and these weren’t enjoyable.

Live the way life comes to you

Mixed feelings on the kale. Quite heavily garlicky and oily – I enjoyed it as actual food, however there was soooooo much oil and this infected the gravy – and made the whole meal far more greasy than it needed to be. More on Greece soon. Sorry…grease. Not supposed to be attempting jokes today, am I?

3 roast potatoes as per standard, and were a reasonable effort. A bit dry inside, especially with the ongoing London gravy drought, a bit of crisp to the outside, a fleck of seasoning here and there. I quite liked them.

The Clissold Arms, East Finchley, Lamb Roast Dinner

The Yorkshire pudding was suspiciously circular and almost certainty came from a bag in the freezer, which given how bad some freshly made Yorkshire puddings are, I’m not too fussed about…in theory. However, this was worse than an Aunt Bessie, undercooked, flavourless and quite tough to cut.

One of the best lamb dishes I ever had was in a Greek restaurant, so it was no surprise that that the lamb far surpassed everything else on the plate. Quite a fatty cut, though lamb shoulder tends to be so – I loved the mixture of coarseness, the fat and the superbly tender lamb meat itself. Pretty much as good as it gets – and did save the roast somewhat.

The Clissold Arms, East Finchley, Beef Roast Dinner

I tried some of my accomplice’s beef – also a generous portion with two fairly thickly cut slices, and it was seasoned wonderfully – they really managed to bring out the flavour here too.

The Clissold Arms definitely know what they are doing with meat.

Finally, the gravy. Well it was a homemade attempt – rather lumpy, fairly tasteless and the oil situation from the kale didn’t help – but it was gravy, so small mercies and all. They brought extra over without me needing to ask, though I did need to ask again.

Foolish wasting precious years eating average roast dinners and now reviewing The Clissold Arms

Well, this is 6 roast dinners in a row where I don’t think I’ll particularly persuade anyone to go to much effort to go here.

That said, I can certainly see those local to East Finchley being quite satisfied – the preponderance of poor roast dinners in London means that having a half-decent roast dinner in your local area can be an attractive quality.

And this was a half-decent roast dinner, albeit rescued significantly by the quality of the meat.

Problems – well the main issue was how greasy the meal was – one accomplice couldn’t finish hers due to the grease levels, though this does mean that I have some very tasty lamb in the fridge, and may have been semi-drunkenly eating her leftovers on the tube last night…oops. If your tube train smelt of roast dinner yesterday evening, that might have been me.

Another issue was too much food – it didn’t quite need to have that much on the plate, nor did we need the watermelon that was enforced on us after, or the pitta and hummus that they kindly gave us whilst waiting for our final accomplice to arrive. They really wanted to look after us, and I shouldn’t moan about free food – but…food waste.

In terms of the roast itself, the Yorkshire pudding was particular bad, and the parsnips yanked with disdain – however on the flip side the lamb was absolutely superb. Easily some of the best meat I’ve had all year.

So the meat quality bumps up the score significantly – a 7.00 and a 7.20 from my accomplices, and I’m going to go for a 7.16.

No review next week as I’m going to Skopje…anyone got any recommendations for Skopje? Lol, as if any of the 50 people bothering to read this will have been there.

So I’ll be back the week after…quite possibly back in East London again though TBC.

Cartoon from Ben Jennings, with The Queen on the Elizabeth Line, going into the light.

Hello Americans

Oh, go on then, I know my 3 American readers will want to know if I ever met The Queen.


But I did once see The Queen. I took the day off work to go watch her officially open Reading train station some years ago.

Not only did I get to see The Queen, I also got to see the nearly as revered, Reading Elvis:

I’m totally cool that we have a monarchy, as long as it stays ceremonial. One assumes that the benefits in tourism spend outweighs the cost to the taxpayer – I think it must be hard to quantify, though one organisation made an attempt in 2017 and came up with a net benefit of £1.5bn. Make of that what you will.

I appreciate that in some ways they are born lucky – they’ll never struggle for food or to pay electricity bills, they’ll never need to wait 18 months on the NHS for an operation. But being property of the whole population and under constant glare isn’t something I’d want. Balls to that. Imagine Prince William deciding that he wanted to start a roast dinner blog? Impossible.

Plus they seem to make a lot of people happy. They bring a sense of togetherness to an often divided country, and to an occasionally lonely existence. The Queen very much brought people together.

So…long live the King.

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The Clissold Arms, East Finchley

Station: East Finchley

Tube Lines: Northern

Fare Zone: Zone 3

Price: £19.50

Rating: 7.16

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: The lamb was pretty much as good as it gets - I loved the mixture of coarseness, the fat and the superbly tender lamb meat itself.

Loathed: Far too greasy, too much food, parsnips were miserable and the Yorkshire from a packet - and suitable direw.

2 responses to “The Clissold Arms, East Finchley

  1. I have a friend who works for BBC as a producer and he’s always going to obscure places. He’s given me a zillion restaurant recommendations over the years, from Darmstadt to Oslo to Perth to Sao Paulo and even Dubai. I just dropped him a note asking if he’d ever been to Skopje and he immediately replied back, “GO TO Cardak and get the pie”. He said it’s not like American pie (desserts and things like that) but some sort of savory pie thing that people eat for dinner. People in Macedonia. Or, more specifically, the Balkan area. He’s a high functioning alcoholic and implied there was lots of music and booze and it’s very busy.

    1. I read “BBC” and thought OMG I’ve been discovered!

      However, I’ll take the tip – some of the food in the photos looks excellent. It is on my list. Thanks!

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