Sunday Roast Review: The Stag

April 26, 2010

The Stag
Belsize Park
Beef, Lamb, Chicken & Vegetarian
From £11.25 (chicken is £22.50 between 2)
Roasting: 7.9/10

It was hard not to like Polly. She had a great figure, and she knew what to wear. She also had a good sense of humour. For a chicken she was pretty slow on her feet, but being free range meant she could always look around for insects if she missed out on the daily scrap bucket. Her best friend, Meg, usually came with her when she foraged, although Meg never really ate much as she was trying to keep in shape for Basil, the farmyard Rooster. Basil, it would later turn out, was actually gay.

On sunday we ate Polly. Demolished her. Stripped her little free range skeleton bare. And my goodness, she was tender. Beautifully moist, she tasted just like chicken. Meg, in case you were wondering, was equally delectable. If you want to know how to successfully roast a chicken, give the chef at The Stag a call, as he or she has it down to a fine art.

You see, when you order the roast chicken at the Stag, that’s literally what you get. An entire, carve-it-yourself, roast chicken. Shared between 2, its the perfect opportunity for taunting nearby tables with your superior knife skills while having a stand-off over the last morsel of awesome pepper-seasoned crispy skin.

And if half a chicken isn’t enough, there’s a whole menagerie of vegetables to accompany your free-range friend. Think roast carrots, parsnips and spuds, as well as mash (yes, mash), steamed mange tout, and cabbage. Easily enough to justify submerging your face in a plate of chicken and gravy while groaning in appreciation.

Ironically, considering our recent thoughts on gravy, we also got 2 separate gravy boats brimming with rich, meaty nectar. Industry Boy actually asked for more and our lovely waitress was more than happy to accomodate us with a refill. If not for the Exxon Valdez sized oil slick lurking on the surface, we would have declared it a category winner.

Further down the menu, Renardo’s organic orkney sirloin had great flavour and hypnotic marbling, and we were impressed that there was the choice of how well the beef could be done. Perhaps sitting opposite two chopping boards laden with grub wasn’t ideal positioning, as for £12.50 we felt the overall serving size could of been a little more generous.

Call us obsessed (why else would we run this blog) but we love a roast that features both mash and roasties. The quantity was admirable, but the mash needed more loving as it was quite bland. Good food deserves Lurpak, no? We also found some of the spuds just a little too burnt, enough so that we didn’t finish them. The yorkshires were bang on though, just the right amount of crispiness up top with that moist underbelly lurking below, ready to soak up any stray gravy.

The esteemed Mr Timothy Taylor kindly greased the afternoon’s wheels, while acting as a much needed anesthetic for the sizeable kindergarden that established itself in the beer garden. If, like Industry Boy and Astin, you are nursing a steaming headache from the previous night, you have been warned.

Ritalin deprived children aside, it really is a brilliant outdoor space and a perfect destination to tackle the intimidating arsenal of local and foreign bottled beers as well as numerous ciders. Sam Adams, Little Creatures and the epic Coopers Pale Ale were just a few that caught our eye. We found it was a while between drinks on our visit, as the service, although very friendly and accomodating, proceeded at a snails pace for most of the afternoon. Slightly irritating considering we had to vacate our table by 3.

So, a worthy opponent then. A few little niggles, but nothing to sink the boat. We would liked to have seen some stuffing (a nice walnut jobby would be perfect) in Polly and Meg, and a bit more quality control on the veg, but otherwise it was a solid foundation for a very nice plate, or should we say table, of food. The fact that you get to carve your own meat is certainly a novelty we will never tire of. Who doesn’t like playing around with massive knives? Just keep an eye out for kids when you do.

Meat ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)
Potatoes ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7)
Veg ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Yorkshire ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Gravy ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)
Serving Size ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8) – chicken 9, beef 7
Menu Variety ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Service ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7)
Atmosphere ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7)
Value for money ★★★★★★★☆☆ (8) – chicken 9, beef 7

Overall Roasting: (7.9/10)

We’re taking a break this weekend, but we’ll be roasting again in full force the following one. In efforts to broaden our coverage of the best London has to offer, we’re heading south of the river. We’ve got a few potential pubs lined up but if you have any suggestions we’d love to hear them.

May sunshine, oodles of crackling and crispy spuds be with you, fellow roasters…

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5 Responses to “Sunday Roast Review: The Stag”

  1. Lou Says:

    Omg I have to stop reading these before lunch time!
    Great review once again!

  2. Loin Says:

    Word boys! Solid blog, keep up the roasting!

    Catch you next weekend.

    Peace.

  3. Jen Says:

    ha ha, love the first pic of the candelabra… it looks mighty similar to the one you tried to take home after new years crackles ;o)

    keep up the good (and delicious) work kids!


  4. Thanks for the kind words everyone. We shall continue to stuff face each and every sunday.

    Jen – we have absolutely no idea what you are talking about…


  5. […] Garden Gate, The Flask, Ye Olde White Bear, The Bull and Last, The Lock Tavern, The Oxford, The Stag, The […]


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