After spending half the weekend writing my roast dinner awards for 2019, I’m not exactly inspired to write more. I wasn’t exactly that much more enthused by the selection of the random number generator of Wheatsheaf in Borough.
I guess I should say Happy New Year. I get bored of people wishing this to me before the new year actually starts, though one we are a few days into the new year, I then start wishing people a Happy New Year.
And there is lots to be excited about too.
- Police & Crime Commissioner Elections.
- Donald Trump being re-elected or a socialist being elected.
- Dancing on ambulances when England win a game in Euro 2020.
You can feel the enthusiasm pouring out of me. Though I am going to Japan in May. HA.
I wasn’t much enthused for a roast dinner at all this weekend – it is the start of apple juice season – and I’m aiming for nearly 4 months without booze this time, just a one week break for my birthday. I was also on call – and we all know what happened last time I planned a roast dinner whilst on call.
So when the random number generator picked Wheatsheaf in Borough, I wasn’t massively enthused. You cannot book a table there – though I took that as a bonus, it wasn’t going to be busy on the first weekend of January and it gave me flexibility just in case I did get called out. Plus I received an e-mail offering me two free birthday drinks from Wheatsheaf – bonus, except for being on detox. Did I tell you I also won some beer in a competition this week? Sometimes the universe really does play with me.
All the joy of a Happy New Year
A couple of days before Sunday, I realised that the Wheatsheaf is a Young’s pub. And Young’s pubs won a few awards from me in 2019 – and not ones they would celebrate. Particularly dire roast dinners from The Grocer and The Hand In Hand are etched on my memory. Expectations were not exactly high. Oh and Young’s unfollowed me on Twitter a while back. Have I mentioned that before? Don’t worry, I unfollowed them too – that’ll show ’em.
And then my accomplice, who arrived a little before me, messaged me, “I strongly dislike the seating”. Followed by, “I’ve found an indoor table but I hate it”.
Much of the seating at the Wheatsheaf was kind of outdoors, in a sheltered semi-terrace – and was of the outdoor seating variety that you might expect.
Indoors had a kind of Brewdog feel to it, at least at the back where we were sat – slightly more traditional to the front. And you can see the issue we had with my continued excellent photography, sat on stools with nowhere for our legs to go – at least I had reason to practice my manspreading ready for the commute on Monday morning.
Someone didn’t think about the user experience when they ordered them.
Spreading My Legs
One imagines that there is a high footfall here, being right next to Borough Market, and quite possibly a fair amount of drinking goes on in this pub. Erm, as opposed to pubs where drinking doesn’t go on? Well, Brewdog have opened a no-alcohol pub…I bet that lasts until March.
Interestingly when I put this pub on my to-do list 3 years ago, I wrote a price of between £12 and £15. Prices were now between £18 and £20. Now that is the impact of an oven-ready Brexit.
The eagle eyed amongst you (or sober) might note that there were two different menus on our table – one offering striploin of beef, the other slow roasted brisket of beef. I was very up for the latter – alas the former was the truth so I ordered the pork belly instead, with minimal conviction. £18. Though with my free drink voucher and no service charge due to ordering at the bar, this was my total bill.
They also had some homemade sausage rolls at the bar – and these looked sexy enough for my hopes to lift a little.
Our roasts took around 15 or so minutes to arrive, whilst I listened to the people on the table next to us talk about their friend in jail for stealing, and I nervously guarded my bag with work laptop.
It looked quite good too – not enough gravy, of course. Oh, and served in a tin.
Not everything was quite as orange as my photography and the lighting suggests – there is a photo with the flash on later.
However, the pile of orange in the middle really was properly Trump-like orange. A voluminous pile of mashed swede and carrot – a little lumpy in places, but it didn’t really suffer for it. I did tire a little of it due to the amount to get through, but it was decent.
The red cabbage was actually less intrusive than normal. I’m not a fan of it in general, but this was…kind of decent in a way that something I don’t like can be.
Top marks for the leek and bacon mixture – if only I had had a pile as sufficient as the swede and carrot mash – alas, life isn’t like that. This was a super little treat though, soft leeks, slightly crispy bacon. Also, is it just me or has Trump become a bit less orange over his presidency?
Being less orange
Three roast potatoes supplied as per local London legislation – oooh we have a mayoral election this year too, get that added to the list of excitement, and maybe one of the candidates might remove this apparent law where you can only supply three roast potatoes.
Then again, at most Young’s pubs over the last year, I’d have been better off with none – these were actually fairly good roast potatoes though. Fluffy on the inside – not crispy on the outside so they weren’t quite finished, but heading in the right direction and tasted good.
Even the Yorkshire pudding was good. Nay, very good – a soft bottom and crispy sides. And it didn’t seem like it had been under a heat lamp since Halloween.
We each had a stuffing ball too – I thought it tasted like sausagemeat and my accomplice thought it tasted of apricot, so take from that what you will – it was enjoyable.
The pork belly was a really good attempt. The crackling was covered in fennel seeds and black peppercorns – this enthused through the whole piece, particularly the fennel – and it was so succulent as a piece of pork that it just came apart like pulled pork. Great work. Mostly.
One thing that let it down was the crackling was rubbery – a minor note as it was still edible. It just let down the side a tad. I probably wouldn’t have done better myself with the crackling and at least it was edible.
We needed to chase our extra gravy – there was next to none on the
plate cheap tin bowl that you could take to Glastonbury ahhhh drugs. It wasn’t the thickest of consistency, but tasted as gravy should. I certainly wasn’t complaining – and boy I love to remoan.
So. Maybe 2020 might be better than I expect, if this is anything to go by.
High marks on the yorkie, the pork flavouring and the leek & bacon combo. Improvements possible elsewhere, especially with the cracking. My accomplice was also rather delighted with her chicken.
It belongs in that little cluster of roasts that score marginally above an 8 out of 10 – I’m giving it a 8.03. My accomplice said 8.20.
That’ll do. If you’ve read my awards then you’ve probably read enough of my codswallop recently.
Next Sunday I’m heading to a family restaurant and my expectations are fairly high for this. My expectations of a hellish journey with 5 different tube trains required are equally as high.
Wheatsheaf, Borough, Central London
Station: London Bridge
Tube Lines: Jubilee, National Rail, Northern
Fare Zone: Zone 1