Please note that due to Copyright Trolls, all images have been removed until I can manually review them, one by one, and ensure credit is appropriately displayed. So if the story suddenly makes no sense, then...well...soz.
This is a long process, so please bear with me...it will likely take until the end of 2024 until all images are reviewed and displayed correctly. Sigh.
Snow is falling, all around us, Merry Christmas…oh that’s a bit early. This week I went to The Cumberland Arms in Olympia. Alone. I’ll be lonely this Christmas…
Three out of the last four roast dinners have been solo-dining efforts. I didn’t plan it this way. Covid and World Cup-vid have interrupted plans.
I couldn’t find anyone to join me for a roast this Sunday. I need a few more friends, don’t I? Or maybe to nag existing ones more. Maybe I smell. Maybe I need to start taking drugs.
I did however manage to arrange a Christmas meal for 35 colleagues. Check me out. And check out the annual disappointing mass-produced turkey Christmas dinner:
Has anyone ever had a good Christmas dinner on a work social? Granted, I worked out on the day that the pub was owned by Mitchell & Butlers, who also own Toby Carvery. But also it was a committee decision, so I’m not solely to blame.
Anyway, everyone else seemed happy with it, people actually rated the food – someone even messaged me afterwards to say that “it was delish”. Granted none of them have a roast dinner blog. Though amazingly, the turkey was actually really plump and juicy.
But more amazingly, I actually organised it. For 35 people. I spend all day writing code at home in my pants, yet managed to organise a social. Actually, I don’t write code any more, after just 6 years writing code professionally I seem to have reached the point where I only help organise people to write code. All I want for Christmas, is to write code…gravy.
Cum In Your Face
Amusingly for this week’s adventure, the random number generator first picked The Connaught Grill, which actually might be more expensive than last week’s £80 roast dinner.
Instead, I was looking to get back to paying less than £20 for a roast dinner, especially being on my own.
Enter The Cumberland Arms.
Oh. Maybe I won’t be paying less than £20 for a roast dinner. We’ve not reached the point of no return, have we? You know how you cannot now get a decent beer in central London for less than £7? Have we hit the point where all roast dinners are over £20? This is 3 in a row.
Options were rump of beef for £22, or pork belly for £21. I still had a massive pork belly craving from my hangover on Friday, so there was only one option. I might have even pressed the random number generator again had they not listed pork belly roasts on their website.
The Cumberland Arms itself was surprisingly quiet when I arrived, just a handful of tables taken despite it being a December Sunday.
I asked if people cum-ber-land arms here often (I didn’t really) and apparently it’s normally much busier, but it was quiet as nearby Olympia had no event.
It was mostly a smart pub inside, nicely decorated for Christmas with the fairy lights – though uglified with a Peroni tap. Why do breweries insist on those damn ugly taps for their shit beer?
Oh and the toilets were a bit grim also, though not Greene King pub kind of grim. Just might need to wash your hands after kind of grim. Ladies – some men don’t wash their hands after going to toilet. I’m sure they use hand sanitiser afterwards though.
Cum In The Place
Instead of being owned by a huge corporation, The Cumberland Arms is part of a small chain of pubs, which includes The Anglesea Arms and The Bobbin – both of which scored well on previous visits, especially The Bobbin which was my first roast of 2022.
And they own The Swan in Chiswick, which served me an excellent chicken burger before I watched not so hot Spanish women kick a ball around in the summer, a couple of weeks before football might have come home. Could there be a symmetry here? Fuck, this is a sign, isn’t it? Guess when I’m next on call at work? Yep, this week, including during England vs France.
Well, depending on what I said at the Christmas party of course. I distinctly remember talking about drugs, being racist in the 90’s and my love of Spanish women. Definitely enough for HR to get their teeth into without them even knowing about this blog or my refusal to work 7 days a year in the shop stacking shelves to “help me understand our website users more”.
Speaking of getting your teeth into something – this turned up:
4 whole carrots were served – I can confirm that I could definitely see in the dark on the way home. Softly roasted, scattered with parsley. Enjoyable without being astounding – arguably a tad too salty.
Then we had some tenderstem broccoli which is always a pleasant addition to a roast. Again, cooked through nicely – still evidence of a bite but soft enough for those of us with British teeth.
Cum In The Land
Unusually we then had mashed potato – really kind of velvety in texture, though could just have done with a little added creaminess or some imagination to take it next level.
Somehow The Cumberland Arms managed not only three roast potatoes, but also just about made good roast potatoes. Some sides were quite crispy, they were quite soft inside – though not quite fluffy perfectionism. Better than many I’ve had this year.
Onto the pork belly already – at this point last week’s review I had barely got to describing the chandelier. There’s probably a good reason why chefs remove the crackling from the pork belly and serve it separately (surely not for presentation?) – though I do feel that it removes from the whole piece, and tends to dry out the crackling a tad.
The meat itself was delightfully gluttonous, tender gooey meat with gorgeous layers of fat.
The crackling was rather crispy, but could be stabbed into bite-sized pieces which would very slowly melt – slower than quaver but on those themes.
Finally, the gravy. Actually, the red wine jus. Ahhh jus…insert Ye West joke. It was actually quite thick for a jus and plenty of effort had gone into it – however it did have a slight bitterness to the red wine flavour, though more notably was overly salty. It didn’t ruin the roast dinner, but it did take the edge off the enjoyment. A fair edge.
The Cumberland Arms
Overall, The Cumberland Arms do provide a good roast dinner, but one that left me a little thinking what it could have been.
The mashed potato just needed a little extra to go from ordinary good, to gorgeous. The roast potatoes were close to perfection, but just needed a little more roasting. The pork belly that definitely hit the spot, but didn’t suck the spot off.
It’s nearly an excellent roast, it nearly deserves a score in the low 8’s – but then there’s the red wine jus that just knocks it down a bit more. It’s a bit like my blog – on the verge of excellence, on the verge of fame, so close to my deserved riches, just not quite there. All those awards ceremonies that I’m so close to being invited to.
Apart from the red wine jus, which was just too salty, everything else on the plate was commendable. Nothing about The Cumberland Arms will make it to my roast dinner awards of 2022 – though that is also a good thing as no venue surely wants to win “worst roast potato of 2022”? Albeit many seem to try to get that award.
A 7.67 seems a reasonable score – most of the roast was very good, the red wine jus just let it down a bit. It’s a good pub, an interesting menu and worth a visit if in the area.
I’ll be back next week. I actually have friends next week. Though our original table number is fast depleting – it might just be two of us in the end.
The Cumberland Arms, Olympia
Station: Baron's Court
Tube Lines: Piccadilly
Fare Zone: Zone 1
Loved & Loathed
Loved: Roast potatoes quite crispy, pork belly a joy.
Loathed: Red wine jus want slightly bitter - and very salty.