This week it was time to visit The Parakeet in Kentish Town – a rather highly-rated pub.
And it was the birthday roast! Happy birthday to…meh. Nah, I’m still in a grump. I couldn’t really be arsed with organising a group birthday thing this year – I even decided that Dry January would survive my turning another day older.
I’m still not feeling 2024. I loathe the whole recruiter merry-go-round, it’s nearer as bad as being on Tinder when you are ugly, I loathe the cold weather. I’m dreaming of holidays yet I cannot book any because 80% of my salary this month goes on mortgage and bills. Dry January is miserable. Dry February and Dry March still feel a long way away. The back to the office edict has really fucked me off.
In theory I should be full of joys, I own my own gorgeous flat (in Croydon), I’ve had some roast dinners this year (both shit), I have my own hair (though I keep finding lots of it on the floor), I have a good job (with a back to the office edict that can fuck off). And now it was my birthday (a very middle age). Well, at least I was confident of a very good roast dinner at last.
Then it hit me.
It’s a fucking leap year.
Think about it. 2016 – Brexit and Trump. 2020 – masks and tiers. And now we have 2024.
Happy Birthday To China
Is it China’s birthday also?
I’m certain Trump giving China the gift of Taiwan has absolutely nothing to do with the money that Trump received from China’s government whilst in power. Absolutely certain. Just like there is zero connection between Trump and Putin, that golden shower never happened and he never slept with any girls at Epstein’s island.
Sigh. Oh well, the world keeps spinning and I shall have some more crap roast potatoes.
Anyway, let’s be joyful. Look at the size of the gravy jug that The Parakeet had for us:
Only joking – it was water. Leap year, yo.
But The Parakeet did have a gift for me – because I’d written that it was my birthday on the booking, they offered us a glass of prosecco each. Unless anyone was doing Dry January of course. Of course. Of course. Of course. Of course. Of course. I resisted and had some pink thing. Of course.
Yay. Happy birthday. No, I’m not feeling the benefit. No, I haven’t lost any weight. No, I haven’t used the time to start decorating. No, I haven’t started the Roast Dinner Awards for 2023.
Happy Dry January To Meh
Plenty of people have written and raved about The Parakeet since it opened – opened by two ex-Brat chefs (I nearly wrote ex-Brexit), so I had high hopes – not that I have yet been to Brat. Unless I finish the review on Tuesday, in which case I will have been to Brat. Happy birthday to me.
This is actually a first for Roast Dinners in London – the first time, I think, that I’ve reviewed a roast dinner in the same building more than once. For 7 years ago, I reviewed it as The Oxford, and was possibly a tad over-generous in my scoring. Well, I was new to town.
What The Parakeet have done with the building is pretty stunning – gorgeous dark wood-panelled walls, a stunningly back-lit bar bringing out the classic signage, some green paint – though it is rather dark inside. That my photographs have come out with some level of visibility is a surprise. This is one gorgeous re-fit.
And it is busy too – though it was well-staffed, both in terms of quantity and quality. We had to wait a little as our table wasn’t ready, but the bar staff were attentive – pointlessly so given my sobriety. The waiter looking after us was easily the most impressive waiter for some time, probably better than anyone I had in any restaurant in any country last year. His knowledge of food and wine was exceptional – he was attentive, playful, funny – there when we wanted him, but not when we didn’t. Impressive.
Yet I’m here to judge the roasts.
On the menu was smoked roast chicken at £25.50, roast beef at £26.50, lamb at £26.50 or celeriac wellington at £20.00. My birthday roast was not going to be the first ever vegetarian roast, I had chicken the Sunday before, I’d had a fat steak the night before (and not burnt it!) – so lamb was the option left. An unusually easy choice for me. Maybe Dry January helps me choose?
Smoky Birthday To Me
It was one of those put it together yourself roasts, but I’ve just used the photograph of it being together – as the other photographs were as dark as Donald Trump’s jail cell might be. Should be. Will be. I know it’s a leap year…but tell me he will go to jail?
Starting with the carrots, which were soft with only very subtle flavour – I thought I could detect a hint of tarragon, but also possibly it was my imagination.
The spring greens were decent – burnt to give them a smoky edge, though with plenty of juice to them.
We decided to go crazy and add the leek gratin side dish, which was £6.50.
It was very creamy with the odd bit of leek.
So far, so respectable – plenty of effort though nothing was especially stand-out.
Happy Fingering To Me
After dinner, the waiter asked what we thought of the fingerling potatoes. Apparently the chefs decided to try them out instead of roast potatoes, and this Sunday, my birthday roast Sunday, was the first time and they were looking for feedback.
As a fully-paid up member of the Roast Potato Taliban, my very British response was to advise that it was controversial. I didn’t mind them per se, one was quite dry, one was quite burnt – the other two were soft and pleasant.
BUT THIS IS A FUCKING ROAST DINNER AND IT IS MY FUCKING BIRTHDAY AND I SHOULD HAVE FUCKING ROAST POTATOES.
Obviously I didn’t say that, in the same way that I said the roast dinner at The Lock Tavern was “yeah more or less fine” to the waitress and then rated it a 3.50 out of 10. They also didn’t bother attempting roast potatoes. Hmmm. Fucking leap year. This is it, isn’t it? 2016 was Brexit and Trump, 2020 was masks and tiers, 2024 is Sunak and replacement roast potatoes.
The Yorkshire pudding was dry, crispy and a bit tired. At least it was mercifully small, and I’ve definitely had worse.
The lamb had more controversy about it. Not especially controversial, but unusual, was that it was topped with croutons. Why? No idea, but I quite liked the crunch and I guess it looked pretty.
Yet the lamb itself was really smoky. I know – two ex-chefs from Brat, where they are famed for smoking everything – but in my eyes, or mouth, the best smoked meats you can actually still tell what meat you are eating. This wasn’t the case here – I could just taste that I was eating smoked meat. I am probably being fussy – the lamb was tender, rare, and the smoking was pleasant. But I do prefer the taste of lamb to the taste of smoke – a balance would have been perfect.
The two beef-eaters at the table had more joy – though one reported one slice as being chewy (well, I ended up with it), both were more than content.
Finally, the gravy. Well, I think it might have been a decent, if watery gravy. But mine tasted of smoked meat. Drinking the gravy on its own, did give some suggestion that there was a fair effort which had gone into it, if it was still watery in viscosity.
The Parakeet. Yo.
It’s a tricky one this. Clearly quite a lot of effort and thought has gone into this roast dinner, and the whole of The Parakeet – the service is quite exceptional for a glossed-up local pub.
Yet I did feel a tad underwhelmed by the food – there wasn’t enough flavour to match the effort, and the smokiness of the lamb did unbalance the roast dinner, for my personal tastes.
The two beef eaters were more in praise, though their scores of 7.70 and 8.00 were still perhaps a little lower than my hopes for The Parakeet’s roast, but very commendable.
My other lamb-eating accomplice was originally more scornful at a 6.00 out of 10 – no roast potatoes, thin gravy and she was more disdainful of the smoked lamb than I – yet upgraded to a 7.00 after some thought.
And that is pretty much where I am. I love the venue, the staff were absolutely superb, the wine list was intriguing (at least the more expensive part) and a lot of thought had gone into this. Yet no roast potatoes, the yorkie was too crispy and dry, the gravy thin – and nothing stood out, bar the tenderness of the lamb, and creaminess of the leek gratin, that makes me think it should be scored especially highly.
So my score is 7.00 out of 10. I normally only judge on the roast, unless anything else about the experience was glorious/disastrous – and were it not for the superb service, it would have been in the upper 6’s. I really want to come back here for their Monday to Saturday menu, and if you are tempted to visit The Parakeet, that would be my recommendation too. Though one accomplice said it was “a southerner’s roast” so maybe those of a jus variety might appreciate it more.
Next Sunday I’m booked at a very well-known restaurant…but it isn’t well-known for Sunday roasts. You’ll probably be surprised they even do roasts. Plus it is the parental inspection of my new flat. And of Croydon. I also saw my first gang fight on the way to the roast. Oh well, I might be sacked soon, then not be able to pay my mortgage, and then have to move out of Croydon.
All that was left of the day was to watch the glorious Disco documentary on the BBC iPlayer, and scroll through Facebook to see what inspiration I could find.
Fucking leap year.
The Parakeet, Kentish Town
Station: Kentish Town
Tube Lines: Northern, Thameslink
Fare Zone: Zone 2
Loved & Loathed
Loved: The venue is gorgeous, staff were superb - maybe I liked the tenderness of the lamb too.
Loathed: No roast potatoes, the yorkie was dry and crispy, the gravy thin and the balance of the smoked lamb didn't work for me.