I felt like I was due a good roast dinner. My accomplice had picked The Grocer in Spitalfields based on my logistical requirements.
I cannot say that I was especially hopeful in advance – it seemed the kind of place that will always be busy due to the tourist footfall and I did note upon booking that the TripAdvisor rating was only 3 out of 5. However, it was a Young’s pub, and they rarely let me down.
The number one requirement was location as I was at a tech jobs fair called Silicon Milkroundabout…wait…does my manager read this blog? I was at a tech jobs fair however I was only there for the free beer and the ball pit – one assumes this happens at job fairs in the finance industry too. And construction industry job fair. And whore house job fairs. I didn’t have time for a free beer however I do have a vast selection of branded tote bags now. Oh and the government now have my details.
Hangover still in tow and feeling sufficiently verbally whored out, I arrived at The Grocer to find that they sold Neck Oil – my favourite beer. I was instantly won over and as ready to give it a 10 out of 10 as an influencer would be at the word “free”. Years ago I set fire to a cardboard mask of Nigel Farage in a little ceremony with a housemate who now loves Nigel Farage. I am becoming equally tempted to print photographs of influencers just so I can vomit on them, however I used all my printer ink back in 2015 printing photographs of every Prime Minister in history.
Have you cleaned your dick?
On the way there, I walked past Dirty Dicks, and found out that they sold roast dinners too. Would you eat a roast dinner at somewhere called Dirty Dicks? Apparently my mum went there in the 70’s. Yeah I’m just jealous of the influencers as they all have nicer (albeit fake) hair than me. And more short skirts. I am starting to think that I would be much better off wearing short skirts as almost every pair of jeans/shorts I own, now has a hole in the crotch.
We had a table reservation but somehow we were sat in the bar area instead of restaurant area – possibly more our fault rather than theirs. The Grocer is part of Spitalfields Market with extensive outdoors seating – though covered as part of the market building so don’t start planning on going there for sunbathing purposes.
Indoors is a marginally buzzy space with both bar and restaurant seating. There wasn’t too much spare seating indoors though it was quick to get served at the bar, even if the person serving me was rather nonplussed about my slightly camp and exaggerated excitement over the potential procurement of Neck Oil.
The roast menu comprised of mustard-glazed beef sirloin or lamb shank at £18.00 and pork loin or lime & thyme chicken at £16.00. I quite fancied the lamb, alas there were only two left and my accomplices both wanted it, so I did the honourable thing and went for the beef instead. Except that had run out too. So I ordered the chicken at £16.00.
I mentioned earlier that I suspected I wasn’t going to get a good Sunday roast, and when the meal turned up on what was a child-sized plate despite being an adult portion, my nose was already out of joint. Believe it or not, I actually want some space to be able to eat my dinner.
I am not a child. I do not need a child-sized plate.
Red cabbage is my least favourite vegetable that I will eat – occasionally it can be really nice, but this wasn’t one of those occasions. Allegedly spicy, perhaps more in a nutmeg kind of way – this was plonked on top of some of my other food, there being no space on the child-sized plate for it to have its own area.
Worse, it had been chopped (food processored?) to small pieces so it got everywhere. Tiny bits of red cabbage on the carrots, on the potatoes, on the chicken and all over the gravy. So everything had a “spicy” red cabbage flavour to it, a flavour I didn’t like, so pretty much everything else had this distinctive yet unappealing flavour to it. Hmmm.
If the child-sized plate wasn’t enough for me to reliably conclude that I wasn’t going to enjoy this, the red cabbage being everywhere was. One bite and I had written off the roast. Could it be saved?
There were a couple of carrot batons which had been nicely roasted, as had one small parsnip baton.
We also had a slice of butternut squash, made to look like a chip. I liked it, apart from the specks of red cabbage on it, though still not enough to rescue matters.
Red cabbage everywhere
The celeriac sludge had more the consistency of mash. I guess it was creamy and perhaps if it wasn’t on a child’s plate and hadn’t been polluted by red cabbage than I may have enjoyed it – but not even influencers verbally orgasm over celeriac. This was more enjoyable than endurable, but not by a huge amount – and there was probably too much on the plate.
Three roast potatoes were supplied and all were crud. They may have been good roast potatoes on Thursday or whenever it was that they were prepared, however by late Sunday afternoon they were a turgid mix of solid on the outside and old on the inside.
Attempting to save the roast dinner on its own was the Yorkshire pudding. Large, fresh, nicely constructed and soggy on the bottom – it was very good.
And the chicken was OK. Not an awful lot of meat on the leg – it seemed to have barely grown a thigh, however the breast was plump, if a little dry – and I stress little. I didn’t detect any lime or thyme flavouring as the menu promised, and I’m not entirely sure that the hairs on the drumstick are visually appealing. Oh yeah, and it wasn’t especially easy to cut on the small plate.
My accomplices had the lamb shank, and neither were enthused by it – one never leaves lamb yet left half of it (too much fat apparently), the other said the outer part was dry but inside was decent enough. I don’t think I especially missed out on anything.
Enforced condiments annoy me – they should be on the side where I have the option of whether to have it on my food or not, especially when your plate is sized for an infant. Thankfully the position of it meant that my unwanted bread sauce only infected chicken bone.
Finally, the gravy. The gravy tasted similar to the red cabbage except without the tang. It was rather watery and tasted more of nutmeg (or something similar) than a proper meat stock gravy. It wasn’t awful, but it was a bit odd. Extra gravy arrived in an awkward (and yes, small) pot that was too hot to touch, let alone pour. Not that I really needed extra gravy…but it did help to reduce the red cabbage pollutant.
You know, it must be miserable being an Influencer and having to constantly find new superlatives for how exceptionally amazing something distinctly average/crap is.
I don’t have to worry about this because I pay for my own meals and can say what the fuck I like. #PrayForInfluencers.
As always, I asked my accomplices for their thoughts before giving it a preliminary score. You know how some people waffle on about a load of shit like burning cardboard cutouts of Nigel Farage’s face? Well, my accomplice simply said, “it was shit”. That’s a good starting point but I think it more nuanced than that.
The awkwardly small plate and the scatterings of semi-nasty red cabbage being everywhere mutes any good points. For there were good points – notably the carrots, parsnip and Yorkshire pudding. There were other disappointing notes such as the dire roast potatoes and the weird water gravy.
Yeah, it was kind of shit. I’m giving it a 4.94 out of 10. My accomplices gave it a 4 and a 5.5. It was so miserable that I actually enjoyed my accidental vegan sausage muffin more the next morning. And I won’t be making that mistake again either.
The highlight was the lack of service charge, though perhaps due to us sitting in the bar. Service was no more than perfunctory – there was no rapport or welcome, no advice or attempt to add value to our experience so we decided against tipping. Perhaps unfair but after paying £16 for a shit roast dinner, I wasn’t especially willing to hand over more of my own meagre salary just because he was also assumedly on a meagre salary. I don’t expect people to tip me because I’ve built a website that they are using.
Fancy some more misery?
To top off the misery, my accomplice dragged myself and his wife to a Greene King pub (marginally less bad than a Wetherspoons) to watch the second half of Chelsea vs Manchester United – is the Premier League really that shit?
Say what you like about the shit roast dinner at The Grocer, but at least the toilets didn’t have unidentified liquid all over the floor, a smashed mirror or random drunk people trying to talk to me who seemed to be repeatedly saying “marmalade”. Oh and the biggest crime – using Comic Sans for the sign on the toilet door. Urgh. Imagine just how bad their roast dinner would be?
Yet when you think things cannot get any more shit, TFL are always there to reward you. On the supposedly short stretch of the Jubilee line that I used, I encountered delays due to a signal failure, then a defective train, then a passenger alarm before my (3rd) Jubilee line train was then terminated early.
I still feel like I am due a good roast dinner. Maybe Dirty Dicks would have been tastier.
Next Sunday I’m going to a festival in Hackney – I’m particularly excited about DJ Boring, the Tea Ceremony and ket yoga. There might still be a roast dinner first, but whether I’ll be able to remember any of it by time I start writing is another matter.
The Grocer, Spitalfields, East London
Station: Liverpool Street
Tube Lines: Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan Line, National Rail, Overground
Fare Zone: Zone 1