This week I went to The Herne Tavern in East Dulwich. Is that really the end of my introductory paragraph? I guess so.
Why did I go there?
Well, I was a bit disorganised this week. Sometimes I have a table booked weeks in advance – just booked one for 5 week’s time, for example.
I was waiting to find out from someone as to whether she was available this weekend, “I shall let you know” was the last I heard. By the Saturday, I took this to be a “no”. Then another friend tried to persuade me to cook a roast dinner for him.
Erm. You would be right in thinking that all my friends know what I do EVERY Sunday.
So it was Saturday night and I still didn’t have a plan – I assumed the role of solo-dining which I’m comfortable with, and seemed awfully appropriate for Valentine’s weekend. By the way, did you see my Love Sausage?
Banging from M&S. Yes I do have shares in them.
You’ve seen my Love Sausage now
Anyway, back to my utterly fascinating story. I’d left it late to find somewhere – two places that the random number generator chose were fully booked. Two only had tables at midday – fuck getting to Bow or Wimbledon for midday. One had closed down and one had stopped opening on a Sunday. Then some I didn’t feel were solo-dining places – anywhere too expensive/upmarket or too hipster are generally ruled out for solo dining – I want somewhere where I can hide.
Finally, The Herne Tavern came up. No online booking form so I called them – yeah I used the voice application on my bright pink clam shell, and booked a table. Woohoo! Mission…I put the phone down then instantly thought, “were the fuck is The Herne Tavern?”.
East Dulwich. Which is two tubes and one train from where I live in Harrow. Plus a 22 minute walk. In the pouring rain – I was soaked before I even got on the tube.
I had though acquired a dining partner by this point.
No, not quite the Valentine’s partner of my dreams, Blanca Suarez (yeah she’s Spanish), but similar – my favourite homosexual Brexiter.
We actually spent Valentine’s Day together a few years ago. In Bracknell, at a pub called The Running Horse, and was served this:
It was a meal that I described as a “Valentine’s vaginaplasty of rot”. And scored it 1.4 out of 10. If you think London has bad roast dinners, then as my Faragey accomplice would tell you, “you need to get out of London”.
Fuck knows how I managed an introduction out of that. If only my willy was so lengthy and verbose.
I could write about the idea of talking genitals, or I could just try and get onto the subject – arriving at The Herne Tavern, rather, ahem, wet.
Remind me again, why was I going all the way to East Dulwich? I keep hearing northerners talking about how difficult it is to get from Manchester to Liverpool – but have they ever tried getting anywhere in south London?
At least I finally found the sun-lit uplands.
I announced my arrival at the bar, who pointed to my table which was between the fire and the gent’s. I didn’t really look around the pub to get much of a feel to it – social media suggests a really nice, sizeable garden that would be great for summer drinking sessions.
On the flip side, the toilets were a bit basic, and our solo pugh-like seats felt like they could collapse at any moment – well, mine did anyway. Perhaps more a user issue though.
Atmosphere-wise it had sufficient screaming children to remind me why being obese and having a small willy is not always a bad thing. And heavy rock playing – yeah, I wasn’t feeling the atmosphere at all. Why do pubs not play minimal techno?
On the menu was chicken, leg of lamb, beef sirloin or pork belly – priced between £15 and £17. I do actually have a modern Chinese spying device that can take good photographs, honest. Yeah, user issue again.
I was quite craving pork belly when I was trying to find somewhere the night before that wasn’t fully booked, closed or only had tables at midday – yeah it wasn’t interesting the first time was it. But when I saw the lamb go by, I strongly reconsidered.
I did order the pork belly still, perhaps swayed by the stuffing or perhaps by the barman’s nod of approval when I mentioned that I was thinking of ordering it. The only roast he couldn’t recommend was the vegetarian option – because it didn’t have meat in it. Ha up yours vegan army!
Want another picture of Blanca Suarez?
If you stare long enough you can just about see a bit of side-boob. Look, I’m a loner incel twatt with a blog about roast dinners – stop being so judgemental.
Dinner took, erm, about 5 minutes to arrive. Never a good sign – at least pretend you are cooking it freshly.
There is a better photo later, honest. This is how it was presented to me, so maybe, erm, blame…the media?
Some old school broccoli was provided – the stalk was particularly tough but otherwise there is nothing to say about it.
I quite liked the shredded cabbage but it wasn’t exactly doing anything of note.
One tiny strand of roasted carrot was supplied and two slightly larger yet still small parsnips. They were nicely roasted, but again I don’t really have anything else to say about them.
I do have something to say about the roast potatoes. They were large, but not properly cooked-through – still had that dry flakiness of potato that hadn’t really been cooked in the middle.
I actually left two-thirds of a roast potato – I’m not sure if I have ever done that. It was just at the point where there was no reason to eat it – almost even a tinge of light green inside that roast potato. Pretty bad – and I was wondering even more than earlier why the hell I’d gone all the way to East Dulwich for a roast dinner.
Told you there was a better photo. I have no idea what that caption means or how it appeared, but I might leave it there.
Oh you wanted a better photo of the roast? Well, this is about as good as I can do:
The Yorkshire pudding was quite good – I don’t want to get too over-excited about it. A tad over-cooked, a tad over-floury, but nice and soft on the bottom.
A heading about The Herne Tavern
You know that I don’t always want to appear too predictable, so I shall talk about the gravy before the end. The menu quoted a £1 charge for extra, but this didn’t appear on the bill – and, no, I didn’t volunteer to pay it either. Granted I only realised when I uploaded the blurred photograph of the menu. This does seem to be the start of another trend – charging for extra gravy.
The gravy itself was fine. It was gravy, it didn’t offend – it could have been thicker, it could have had more flavour but it ticked enough boxes without quite arousing my nipples.
So the pork belly. It was actually really quite flavoursome – perhaps a hint of fennel, and if it had been even vaguely freshly cooked I would have been impressed.
However, it was tired and, away from the more juicy fatty parts, it was dry – it really felt like it had been cooked the day before or at least spent several hours under a heat lamb being dried out. Not even vaguely looking like the roast on their Instagram page just three weeks ago.
What happened? Did I just get unlucky? For my friend’s lamb was probably worse – he offered some to me though I had to cut it myself – and it was tough going doing so.
There wasn’t much to note about the sage and onion stuffing – it was again a bit dry, but the flavour was nice. Likewise the crackling – crispy, a tiny bit chewy but overall reasonable.
Why did I go to East Dulwich for a roast? Photo of Blanca Suarez instead?
Nah, lets concentrate on finishing this review.
Start positive – this is the best roast dinner that I’ve eaten in East Dulwich. However, the only other roast dinner I’ve had around here was in the East Dulwich Tavern which I scored a 5.05.
The flavour of the pork was nicely done and…struggling here…I really admired the voluminous blonde hair of one of the barmaids – quite stunning hair. I was envious. I guess the gravy was decent too.
The worst part was a toss between the under-cooked roasties or the dried out texture of the pork belly.
No service charge as we ordered at the bar – service was probably better than half the places that charge 12.5% – my plate was actually taken away after I’d eaten unlike last week, and those that served me were amiable and efficient.
I don’t feel comfortable writing a bad review of this place, possibly only because I will lose a Twitter follower, but I can only report on my experience.
I guess you could say that it was a Valentine’s vaginoplasty of indifference. I’m scoring it a 6.18 out of 10 – my accomplice also scored similar at a 6.1 – and we never normally agree on anything. I’d go back to the The Herne Tavern, especially in summer for drinks in their garden – but I don’t rate their roast.
Next Sunday’s will be better. And will be easier to get to. Wait, is that…
“Blancaaaaaaaaa! Quiero ver mi Love Sausage? Es grande!”.
The Herne Tavern, East Dulwich
Station: East Dulwich
Tube Lines: National Rail, Overground
Fare Zone: Zone 2
Loved & Loathed
Loved: The flavour of the pork was nicely done, gravy was decent.
Loathed: Under-cooked roasties, dried out texture of the pork belly.