The Woodman, Highgate

So after a couple of days of learning from people on Twitter how to win people over and influence them, it was time to ditch my restrained weekend drinking so far and have a roast dinner at The Woodman in Highgate, and way too many beers for a Sunday.

Speaking of stupidity:

Yes, I’m sure that calling people racist cunts will help persuade them to vote Labour next time, as I assume is the desire of the above Tweeter. Until I “get over it”, I’m only voting for people/parties who are actively campaigning to re-join the EU – but believe it or not, you don’t actually have to be a racist or a cunt to vote for the Tories – back in 2017, I thought that Theresa May was better able to run the country than Jeremy Corbyn – I thought she’d fuck up the economy less. I wasn’t racist in 2017 and I wasn’t a…well…I was…still am a bit of a nobhead.

I’m in danger of making a serious point that isn’t about the crudness of roast potatoes again, but you are not going to influence people to vote your preferred way by calling them cunts, or whatever it may be.

Fuck anyone that didn’t vote for Count Binface though.

Like a virgin…

Oh well, at least we can all go on holiday.

Green list holiday destinations

South Sandwich Islands, anyone? According to Wikipedia, “it is a remote and inhospitable collection of islands…”, as I pointed out on Twitter on Friday evening when the exciting news came out.

Or how about St Helena, to quote one of my few dearer Twitter followers who still uses Twitter since Donald Trump was banned, it has a “historical connection while still being a remote and inhospitable shithole”. Enter St Helena Travel from stage left:

There was more replies. Lots more. Did anyone else delete all their travel apps from their phone around a year ago? Anyway, no flights to St Helena from London. But I can fly from South Africa once a week…oh no I cannot because South Africa is not on the green list. Oh well, apparently I can visit St Helena on my own yacht…hmmm…or a cruise ship…hmmm….or charter a plane. And I thought Peckham was a ballache to get to.

Oh well, I will just have to admire the “what to do” page on the St Helena tourist page, presumably designed by David Hockney.

Weird St Helena tourist image collage

Oh well, how about Israel? There’s a what? War? It’ll blow over.

Papa don’t preach

I guess I should resist the temptation to get into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict – if Donald Trump’s son cannot solve the conflict, then I certainly cannot. Ask me about the roast dinner? You want to know how the roast dinner was? How kind of you to ask.

So we went to The Woodman in Highgate. Why did I go to somewhere not on my to-do list, I hear you probably not ask? Well, I suggested to some very fun friends that we go for a roast – one of them suggested The Woodman, another agreed – and by that point it was really too late to insist on MY list. Plus I’d previously taken them to The Hand In Hand in Wimbledon – score of 4.98 out of 10, and Eat Lagom in Hackney – the saltiest roast dinner ever.

We operate a zero tolerance to drugs sign

Initially I was seated in front of their welcome sign but then was offered the opportunity to sit in the sun – either directly in the sun but next to the road, or at the back of the transparent awning – which is what I chose though it did make it a bit more difficult to attract the attention of staff at times. Unusually for post-covid there seemed to be enough staff, they didn’t seem overly busy and there were always spare tables – it was just that they were not always positioned to see our waving hands and (later on) our strange “serve me” dances.

My expectations were not great for The Woodman – I kind of had the feeling that it would be poor or surprisingly good. For the latter argument, apparently their menu was “curated” by someone from The Ivy, though if I curated this blog and got someone else to write it, can you imagine just how crap it would be?

Google and TripAdvisor reviews were few – mostly people complaining about service (a tad unfair) and drinks prices (I’ve had worse). But this scared me:

Crappy roast potatoes on Google review

Express Yourself

What the fuck is that? Did Count Binface bring it to earth?

Also giving me a sense of foreboding was the menu – one of those huge menus that you get at chain pubs that offer every possibility which makes me wonder how they can be good at everything on there?

The Woodman, Highgate, Roast Dinner menu

Yet the choice of roasts was rib of beef (my favourite cut of beef), leg of lamb (my favourite cut of lamb), pork belly (my favourite cut of pork) or roasted chicken, with stuffing. Or you could have a mixed roast or some unknown vegetarian/vegan offering. Nah.

I chose the beef at £18.95, along with a bottle of Rioja which worryingly wasn’t even listed on Vivino let alone rated.

The Woodman, Highgate, Roast Dinner

I was initially really tickled to be granted Romanesco for the first time ever on a roast dinner in London, yet it became clear that something was a bit odd as all of the vegetables tasted weak – they all seemed boiled.

The giveaway was that I had done a pea-check, yet there was still a solitary pea to be found. You know what we were thinking? ICELAND. And no, I don’t mean the Iceland that is on the green list of places that we soon won’t be accepted into because of a new super-spreading variant that is bound to happen (happening?).

I’ve done a little internet search for carrot, pea, cauliflower, romanesco and green bean medleys – I cannot find any such medley but it remains our suspicion that this was from a large bag of frozen vegetables from a wholesaler like Brakes.

There isn’t much point of breaking down the vegetable descriptions as they were all basic, flavourless and disappointing. A bit like discovering that the Falkland Islands, one of the few places I could go on holiday, have a surprising lack of sexy Latino women – especially considering how close they are to South America. What happened?

La Isla Bonita

The Woodman, Highgate, Sunday roast

The roast potatoes were a tad less obviously pre-frozen, but probably were. They were very large – you cannot make good roast potatoes that large. They tasted a bit oily on the outside, but quite potatoey on the inside – which is an obvious thing to say, but some potatoes have a stronger potato flavour than others. Kind of soft – they were edible and OK.

The Yorkshire pudding was pretty good. This actually seemed to have been made in the kitchen, tasted pretty fresh, was quite soft too.

And the rib of beef was very nice. I mean, this whole review would have been an absolute slating were it not nice, but I did enjoy eating the beef. Overdone for my personal preferences, but each to their own – the fatty edges of the rib of beef worked well with the meat itself.

My accomplices shared complaints with me, but most were happy with their respective meats, though the accomplice with the lamb complained that it was too tough.

The Woodman, Highgate, pork roast dinner

Finally, the gravy. Well, it was good enough for me to be photographed pouring gravy from the jug into my mouth once a few more beers had been drunk. It has some consistency, it had a bit of a salty edge but not too much – and was, well, OK.

Vogue

I worry that since the end of the first lockdown, I have been a bit too kind to pubs and restaurants that I am reviewing, after what they have had to go through (with taxpayer support, let’s not forget) over the last year or so. You might think, “great that you are being so nice” but it actually isn’t fair on others pre-pandemic that got the full treatment.

I don’t think my scoring has been out of whack with Before Covid, marginally at most – yet I do think I try to find ways to compliment the venue when I haven’t liked the roast that much, such as The Red Lion in Barnes which I scored a respectable 7.10, but I felt that I had to go out of my way to describe how nice the garden was, that the staff were friendly and that they served my favourite beer of the moment (Soundwave), etc.

For The Woodman, I’m struggling to find those counterspective (I feel that should be a word but isn’t…deal with it) points – we did have a good afternoon and the beer garden was large. Yet the beer choice was very ordinary – not quite Greene King levels of ordinary, but definitely frozen veg levels of ordinary. The £28.00 bottle of Rioja was absolutely not a £28.00 bottle – I’ve had far nicer for less, but it was decent enough. Dessert was good though:

Dessert (chips and gravy)

The service was occasionally distant and difficult to attract, drinks were then sometimes very slow to arrive – but broadly speaking it was decent and friendly enough.

And for the roasts, well, the beef was very nice – yet the vegetables were just frozen nonsense, and you can get good beef with properly cooked vegetables for £18.95 (or cheaper…perhaps) elsewhere. Maybe I’m wrong about the vegetables – but I’ve actually had a lot of roast dinners in my life, and if I am wrong – then that is probably a worse indictment.

We all scored it around a 6.5, I’m scoring it a 6.47 out of 10.

This coming Sunday I’m going to somewhere that knows of my existence, somewhere that does at least occasionally tag me in posts – so the pressure is on a little bit. Plus, heavy and thundery downpours are forecast, for my last ever roast dinner outdoors thanks to the irreversible lockdown re-opening that our trustworthy leader has promised.

Fingers crossed that I have a bit less fun this time.

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Summary:

The Woodman, Highgate, North London

Station: Highgate

Tube Lines: Northern

Fare Zone: Zone 3

Price: £18.95

Rating: 6.47

Get Booking

https://www.the-woodman.com/

Instagrim

Loved & Loathed

Loved: The beef was really nice, if a tad overdone

Loathed: Boiled vegetables from a freezer bag

3 responses to “The Woodman, Highgate

  1. Those photos don’t make St. Helena any more desirable as a holiday spot….in fact, more so the opposite. The brightly painted town at the bottom of a flood channel looks like the place to go for swift water training classes. The stairs to certain death at the jaws of several severely poisonous snakes isn’t winning me over either. And what’s up with the beach that looks like they captured the photo after that last mining truck had passed by for the day? St. Helena? Hard Pass!

  2. Love the list of possible holiday spots. Good luck getting to the Falkland Islands, if you actually wanted to go there. Three ways to get there: RAF flights (you may have to join up), flights via Santiago/Punta Arenas, Chile (Chile borders closed tight and even internal travel severely restricted), and cruise ship (hahahaha).

    1. I quite wanted to go to The Falklands Islands as a pilgrimage to Lady Thatcher…but like most of my exciting plans in life, it is on hold.

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