The Crooked Billet, Clapton

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I am a woke Thatcherite, and this is a roast dinner review of The Crooked Billet in Clapton.

Well that should have offended everyone reading, one way or another. Not that Clapton is that repulsively hip an area.

Gosh, now the cupcakes that I made in 2018 need cancelling?

So, why The Crooked Billet in Clapton? It wasn’t on my to-do list and I’d never even heard of it – though if I lived in Clapton I almost certainly would have been in that beer garden multiple times.

It was chosen by a friend who had the temerity to organise a birthday drinks/roast without regard to my to-do list. And I didn’t have high hopes for The Crooked Billet either – looking at their website and socials, I judged it as somewhere to have fun, not especially somewhere with good food.

Upon arrival, the initially surly barmen looked like they had had too much fun the night before – yes, I am visiting your pub where you work, and yes I would like you to do some work. Service was much jollier as time progressed, though I’ll come onto that.

The Crooked Sunak

Inside is a large central bar with various tables and chairs, but given that it is still in that sunny but not too hot or waspy to eat outside phase, I paid little attention to the inside – it had a well-used feel to it, and The Crooked Billet does seem to be a well-used pub.

Outside was a large beer garden – some areas in the shade, some areas in the sunshine – thankfully for me, our table was in the sunshine, or at least it was until my accomplices wanted some post-roast shade, at which point I jealously pined for sun on my arms, in the same way that you might pine for cocaine when other people in your group have suspicious sniffs and won’t shut the fuck up.

OMG it’s less than £25. Go East London! Alas, I lost an ear bud so now I need to spend another £100 on replacing them. I did lose it at home so it might reappear but it seems to have gone into that bedroom black hole. You know the one. The one with your missing socks and the best-ever ecstacy pill that you smuggled back from Ibiza. Possibly some knickers too. Probably not someone’s you recognise.

£17.50 is so pricey. Welcome to 2023, Margherita.

Speaking of women who’s names begin with an M, you might hate Maggie, but at least she didn’t get rid of our 3.5mm headphone jack. BRING IT BACK YOU TECH BASTARDS. Yeah I know you are missing coal mines and blowing your nose to find black bogeys rather than white powder.

Seriously, I’ve spent about £200 in the last year or so on multiple 3.5mm to USB-C adapters that break, two sets of earbuds, and probably some earphones. I would start a class action lawsuit against Apple, but I have my hands full trying to overturn the 3 roast potato rule in the UK. By the way, I wrote to Lad Bible this weekend to try to get them on side in the battle. We’ll need some experts to get our roast potato allowance up to 4. Do you reckon Tatler would engage?

My accomplice’s roasts arrived before I got back from the bar to order mine – at which point I freaked out. PEAS! I’d forgot to ask for no peas and The Crooked Billet looked like the kind of place that might do peas.

My exclamation attracted the attention of someone collecting glasses, to which I explained my “peas are evil” predicament. He said he’d see what he could do, but came back a couple of minutes later to advise that the peas were mixed in with the greens, but they’d make it as pea-less as possible.

I asked for a bowl, and he regretfully offered a bowl for every pea – which I duly accepted. By which point we’d gone from surly staff to helpful and fun staff. I was liking this place more.

The Crooked Johnson

I just realised that I didn’t tell you anything about the menu – but there were only two choices – beef or pork belly, at £19.00 or £18.00. OMG it’s less than £25. Go East London!

I ordered the beef, because I’d had pork belly the week before. Alas, my birthday-celebrating friend could suitably engage my envy with her delectable-looking pork belly, even if the crackling looked like it could be substituted for a roof tile.

The chef apparently likes pepper as much as I do, so we were onto a good start with the medley of greens – both cabbage and leeks, a hint of butter with it, perhaps. It was rather pleasing.

Two chunky roasted carrots were fairly charming, a little soft but not too much. Apparently I saw Phillip Schofield in panto in Hull when I was a child

I also really enjoyed the roasted butternut squash, which was also rather peppery and soft. So, good vegetables even if not doing anything outside the general safety zone – but could they do decent roasties?

Just in case you need a close-up to be able to count just how law-breaking The Crooked Billet is (clue is in their name):

No. They weren’t that bad, but they were just tired and perhaps not the best quality potato in the first place. We were actually in quite early so it isn’t like we were having a late afternoon roast, but of course, they could have been sitting around since the night before.

The Crooked Thatcher…Mark Thatcher. Don’t Even Dare Suggest Any Other Thatcher

The Yorkshire pudding was better than it looked, but I’m not sure that says an awful lot. Clearly it is overcooked on top, and was a bit rubbery, yet there was enough softness, just about, in the bottom half to redeem it. I don’t think Margherita missed out too much.

Roast beef was an unadvertised cut – I’d take a guess at striploin, it was tender and flavoursome, with some added fat which perhaps could have been rendered a tad. The option was either rare or well-done – my rare was perhaps medium-rare but I was happy, the well-done was apparently as well done as bacon. And that wasn’t a compliment.

Update. I’ve been into the black hole and now have two ear buds. Fuck Apple. Fuck Elon Musk.

Sorry. Elon Musk is a really kind and gentle soul, and definitely misunderstood.

Finally, the gravy. Well there was sufficient provided, it had some consistency and plenty of pepper. It won’t win any awards, but was commendable enough.

The Crooked Billet

I had low expectations for The Crooked Billet, assuming I’d enjoy the sunshine, beer and attractive women in shorter shorts than I wore, more than I’d enjoy the roast.

But for a big, fun, east London pub with hungover staff, it was actually quite decent. This is the kind of place, that at least in summer, could get away with doing shit food – and people would still come here in their droves. And we’ve seen them in the past – The People’s Park Tavern is one that springs to mind.

I’ve kind of stopped adding these kind of places to my to-do list, as I kind of learnt the outcome.

Of course, the roast at The Crooked Billet still wasn’t anything special. Tired roasties and a semi-burnt yorkie, offering the usual trouble.

But all the vegetables, and there were plenty of them, were appealing, the beef and gravy both sufficiently pleasing. Though the pork belly looked even better. And, yes, we did spend far too long discussing Phillip Schofield, ie, more than 1 minute.

The vegetarians on the table weren’t keen on the filling, and both scored their roasts a 6.50 out of 10. The pork belly accomplice, was indeed very happy and rated hers a 7.50. My regular accomplice who ordered the well-done beef, a 7.00..

A broadly respectable roast, (eventually) very friendly and fun staff, a great spot to sit in the sun, and probably a good night out – my score is a 7.17 out of 10.

3 and a half peas, by the way. Bravo. I’ll be back next Sunday – someone on Twitter is brave enough to take me to their favourite roast dinner venue. Oh and finally, fuck you Yorkshire Bank.

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The Crooked Billet, Clapton

Station: Clapton

Tube Lines: Overground

Fare Zone: Zone 2

Price: £19.00

Rating: 7.17

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: Veg was all good, and the chef likes pepper. Also some hotties in the garden on a sunny day.

Loathed: Tired roasties, half-burnt yorkie.

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