The Flask, Highgate

Here we go again. Time to write more claptrap that you are instantly going to forget and ignore.

Don’t worry too much, I’m not going to start talking about my New Year’s resolutions. It’s just another roast dinner review – this time of The Flask, in the subsumed London village of Highgate.

Though I do have one important resolution for 2019, and that is to have at least as many roast dinners as I had last year. I think I made it to 47, maybe 48 in total this year. Which isn’t bad, when you consider I can only go on a Sunday, and some Sundays I am not in London. I might have to recount as that does seem a little high.

Perhaps you should have a resolution too – maybe to do one or two more of my recommendations? Or even better, to share my page every single week. OK, lets just stick to you visiting one or two of the top spots, especially this January when the service industry struggles thanks to all those selfish bastards doing Dry January, looking after their health instead of looking after the health of their local pub’s bank balance. How dare you?

I do know a group of people in London that desperately need to follow a New Year’s resolution, arguably even more than cyclists need to resolve to learn what behaviour red traffic lights require of them. Chefs, most notably chefs in pubs and restaurants in London, should make their number one resolution to learn how to make proper gravy – none of this red wine jus crap. It’s a roast dinner – it doesn’t need to be made into a posh pish dining experience for wannabe upper-class tits.

Also if you could do your bit to stop Brexit, that would be jolly good. By the way, I’m doing Dry January, Dry February and Dry March. I didn’t say I wasn’t a selfish bastard. Shared my page yet?

So this Sunday, the final Sunday of 2018, I required somewhere convenient for my accomplice as she was doing me a favour. The Flask in Highgate was the most conveniently located pub that actually still had free tables and was still doing roast dinners at 4pm. Though it was 5pm by time we arrived.

A Fuller’s pub – and they can be hit and miss for roast dinners – it was situated on the corner of a quiet road junction, opposite a small parkish park.

A nice brick building on the outside and a cosy feel inside – though with an audible feeling of being crammed in, with a heck of a lot of bouncing noise, even if it didn’t physically seem as busy as it sounded. Acoustic detractions aren’t something that particularly bother me, but those hard-of-hearing might struggle to pick out conversation over the buzz. Others will enjoy the buzzy feel.

They were certainly making the most of the available space – though there quite a plethora of outdoor space and seating, one to note for summer.

We were shown to our table, pretty much all tables were occupied despite the fairly late afternoon dining time, and we were somewhat squeezed onto a table for two in the corner – having picked up an unplanned straggler on the way to make it three of us.

It was one of those kind of menus that made me wish I was just writing a blog about dining on a Sunday, as opposed to a Sunday roast blog – with venison casserole being ever so tempting for myself, and the chestnut & celeriac gnocchi being tempting for one of my accomplices – though I don’t force my accomplices to have the Sunday roast.

Sirloin of beef, shoulder of lamb or chicken were the options, priced at £19.50 for the proper meats, £16.50 for the poultry. There was also a butternut squash and feta wellington at £14.00 for the very nice people that are vegetarians, like one of my accomplices. No – I don’t have a New Year’s resolution to be nice to vegetarians, don’t worry. And certainly not vegans. Or commies.

They had run out of lamb, so I chose the chicken on the basis that it was £3.00 cheaper.

It wasn’t easy to get hold of someone to place our order, but we eventually managed it – that was the only time service wasn’t quite to expectations. The other issue being that I noticed on other table’s plates, something rather obnoxious and unwelcome.

Peas.

Yet peas were not on the menu. What gives? Surely if you have something that can give certain people violent reactions, like peas do in me, then they should clearly be displayed in the menu? I appreciate that my discomforting proto-phobia of peas isn’t quite on the same level as being allergic to peanuts, but peas are evil, they are ill-disciplined, and I don’t see why I should be expected to keep my very small penis inside my pants during dinner when a venue cannot have the discipline to warn of peas.

Thankfully, I was alert to the danger, and made sure our servant understand. Without getting naked. Nobody wants to see me even topless with the amount I have eaten over the last month. No, I am not going to a gym this month, next month or any month, for they are full of people who go to gyms. Is there anyone I haven’t offended yet this year?

Tea took around 15 minutes to arrive. OK, dinner. Whatever.

Starting with the red cabbage, of which there wasn’t too much – for me the right amount, and it was rather flavoursomely braised.

There was also vertically-halved roasted carrot, of which you could easily pick out the advertised honey, but not the cumin. Decent.

I don’t really remember much about the parsnip, I think I was too busy eating and forgetting that I was actually supposed to remember details – but I vaguely recall my appreciation of it.

There was a small collection of shredded sprouts – much more al dente than I’d prefer, I just didn’t get a feeling of enjoyment from them. They might even have been raw, or close to.

The cauliflower cheese was decent enough. Two sharing pots arrived, one with an upper crust and one without. I didn’t detect any cheese, let alone the advertised chestnut – as it often is at restaurants, cauliflower cheese was more cauliflower cream – though in this case, cauliflower creamy mush as the cauliflower had been boiled/steamed/whatevered for longer than it takes to hear Donald Trump say something that isn’t a lie during a press conference.

Things then took a worse turn. There were two large “roast potatoes”, however they seemed more like floppy, skinless jacket potatoes – not anywhere near close to a definition of a roast potato, and they clearly had been cooked some time ago – though they wouldn’t have been any better were I dining at midday. Poor. Very poor.

The Yorkshire pudding also had deficits, it had barely risen (should I have a New Year’s resolution about less innuendo?), and was suffering from a long time under a heat lamp. It wasn’t a bad effort per se, more structural and efficiency issues.

Both a leg and a breast (wahey!) were supplied in chicken format. Quite an oily taste to them, the breast was a little dry and tiring, the leg more succulent, particularly the thigh part. It was pretty bang average chicken. Edible, but in a maybe I should try the vegetarian one year kinda way.

Redemption was forthcoming with the gravy. It had a good consistency with a red wine flavouring but not too much of one. Red wine gravy in most places tends not to be gravy, and even where it is gravy, it can very often go wrong in terms of taste. I guess it did get somewhat tiring near the end, and I’d always prefer a normal meat stock gravy – however credit is very much due here for managing a red wine gravy that was actually gravy. And really damn good.

Alas, there was almost none on the plate to start, so not only did we have to order extra gravy…well…some gravy, but also extra extra gravy. I guess even if 2019 is the year that chefs in London learn what proper gravy is, we still aren’t going to get a decent amount on our plates. Fuck you Instagram.

Overall the parts varied from bad to very good – with a lot of average items. The gravy and the red cabbage particularly impressed, the potatoes were definitely the why did you bother lowlight.

I’m scoring it a 6.58 out of 10. Though it was broadly an acceptable dining experience, this could, and should have been so much better than it was. I’m starting to conclude that the quality of the menus in Fuller’s pubs far outweigh the quality of the food – this is becoming a pattern. A venue in a favoured location with an unfavourable cuisine.

This coming Sunday, I’ll…that’s a good point, I haven’t heard back from the venue I’m supposed to be going to. It is quite an interesting proposition, in fact the next three roast dinners are all interesting propositions – and the chance is at least one of them will be excellent. Perhaps all three.

Maybe I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.

Seeing as you’ve made it this far:

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

(unless you are doing veganuary)

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2 Comments

  1. If you’re not drinking for January I certainly hope you weren’t drinking out of the candle on the left side of the picture….as the (unnamed) beer on the right clearly wasn’t for you.

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