Sunday Roast Review: The Cadogan Arms
November 25, 2010
The Cadogan Arms
Whole / half roast free range Devonshire Bronze chicken (£29, for two), Roast rump of British grass-fed beef (£14.95), Roast leg of Herdwick lamb (£14.95)
Well The Cadogan Arms in London’s Chelsea was bloody, bloody, disappointing. No Burberry tablecloths, no white gloved servants, no silverware, no foie gras milkshakes or caviar cocktails, no Swarovski crystal potatoes. Not even, Roman Abramovich. Call this the Kings Road? Like hell it is, old bean.
All we got at the Martin brothers’ gastropub was pseudo-countryside: think fly fishing tackle and walls of taxidermic trophies, a cosy traditional British wood-paneled bar, and a dining room full of – would you believe it – quite ordinary riff raff.
Of course, it was just perfect for us. For when it comes to the great British Sunday roast, that most simple and elegant of meals, there is no pomp, no ceremony, nor surroundings, that can better our most precious of plates. It is a classless dish, it is a family feast, and it edifies our stomachs in a way that no one outside of our green and pleasant land will ever, fully, understand.
It is the food that matters most. And whilst Einstein might call us insane for eating the same thing over and over every Sunday and expecting different results, he might at least appreciate our use of the microscope: our Sunday roast reviews and ratings often come down to the most infinitesimal of details.
And last Sunday, it was the interior of a few of the roast potatoes that had our judges tut-tutting. Whilst some of our table of 11 enjoyed cutting through the flawless golden surfaces of their spuds to find creamy, fluffy cores, a couple of us had to chomp our way through the equivalent of the Sahara.
The dryness could have been caused by any number of things: too hot an oven, too long in the oven, the wrong kind of potatoes, or not enough duck fat prior to cooking (although if The Cadogan Arms does use duck fat, the menu does not say).
A few of our table called us pedantic for our nitpicking, and indeed when you’re a table of 11 in one of London’s busiest pubs during Sunday lunchtime, it’s unreasonable to expect absolute perfection. OK, so call us unreasonable. Our hunt to find Britain’s best Sunday roast will eventually come down to such persnickety.
And then, there was the homemade horseradish sauce, with its thoroughly unsatisfactory kick and much to much double cream. Whilst we thoroughly appreciate any such efforts in the kitchen to experiment and create taste sensations from scratch, if the results are below that of what’s readily available in your local supermarket, then it’s probably not worth doing so.
But that is about the end of our criticisms. The rest of the Sunday roast was delightful. The whole roast free-range Devonshire Bronze chicken (for two) with lemon and thyme stuffing under the skin, was absolutely delicious, and even better when dipped into the accompanying bread sauce. We did note however, that it was slightly on the dry side.
The roast rump of British grass-fed beef was some of the tastiest that we’ve had the pleasure of devouring, full of flavour and plentiful. The roast leg of Herdwick lamb with homemade mint sauce was similarly fabulous, and disappeared just as fast.
The highlight of the whole roast was the stunning Yorkshire pudding, which we reckon, might just be one of the best in the country. It was huge and brown, with pristine crisp edges and a superbly soft inner bowl. What made it all the more extraordinary, was that every single one of them was faultless.
Because they were so perfect, those who had opted for the roast chicken were left a little envious as their meal did not include a Yorkshire (a fair occurrence, as Yorkshire puddings are traditionally only served with beef). They did however, have the the last laugh, as they got delicious pigs in blankets instead.
The vegetables on offer were sufficient with a handful of fun kale, and a collection of, I quote, “the best carrots ever”. It would have been nice to have a third vegetable on the plate, but they probably wouldn’t have been able to fit it as there was hardly any white space thanks to every plate having its own gravy boat (unlimited gravy is an essential part to a Sunday roast we think, so The Cadogan Arms scored top marks there).
By the end of the meal we were completely stuffed, and happy, so naturally, the Sweet Fiend insisted that we all order desert. Sadly, it was the weakest part of the meal, and disappointing, considering the £5.50 cost each.
Ten of us ordered chocolate fondant with honeycomb and caramel ice cream, whilst one opted for the lemon posset with blackberry jelly and shortbread. Out of the ten chocolate fondants, only one of them was gooey and had a satisfactory ooziness to its inner consistency. The rest of them, although quite tasty and enjoyably sinful, were nothing more than dry chocolate sponge all the way through. Perhaps they suffered the same oven as the roast potatoes?
The lemon posset on the other hand was lovely, as was the wine (Barbera d’Asti Superiore, Tenuta Neirano, Piedmont, Italy 2006) at £19.50, and the spicy bloody marys which we had at the start of the meal.
And so concludes this week’s Sunday roast dissection. Now, take me home, James.
Meat ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Potatoes ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6)
Veg ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Yorkshire ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)
Gravy ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Serving Size ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Menu Variety ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Service ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Atmosphere ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)
Value for money ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Total Roasting: (8/10)
The Sweet Fiend’s Last Word:
Great lemon posset but generally woeful chocolate fondants, which were firmer than the Sweet Fiend’s orthopaedic mattress. Final word – Stick to the meat, avoid the sweet. ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ (3)