The Albion
Islington
Whole Roast Suckling Pig with trimmings (£300, 10 persons, 72 hours notice)
Pork Belly (£14), Roast Chicken (£15), Roast Beef (£17)
Roasting: 8.2/10

On Sunday, we ate a whole baby. Plucked from his mother’s teat when he was no older than six weeks, he weighed a little over nine kilograms when the cook at The Albion pub in Islington roasted him in an oven for many hours.

When he arrived ready to feed our hungry table of 18, his eyes were missing, his ears were black and shrivelled, and his skin was crisp like hard caramel on a crème brûlée.

The Romans called such a babe, porcellum lactantem, and around the world from China to the Philippines, across Europe and many Spanish-speaking nations, infants just like this are gleefully devoured for their tender, pale meat. We know them as suckling pigs, but that is something of a misnomer as they are really just sweet little piglets.

When the Roasted Sundays mob heard last year that The Albion was happy to roast one of the little darlings for tables over ten (£30 per head), we added it to the Soon To Be Roasted list and waited for an appropriate Sunday; little did we know that we would only get to sink our teeth into one during Crackles’ last supper as curator of this blog. A poignant goodbye, for a man who has spent the last year trying to find London’s best roast.

As waiters severed the head of our piglet in front of our table, there were gasps of delight and deliberation. For the true meat lovers – admittedly all men – it was a welcome chance to walk a little closer to the footsteps of our hunter-gatherer forefathers. For the more timid amongst us, it was a cut too far. Some had to look away. Personally, I felt it was nothing more than a good dose of truth (I’ve never understood people who eat meat from plastic containers in the supermarket only to express their disgust at TV shows that depict the realities of the slaughterhouse).

Each diner had different cuts of piglet as the waiters worked their way down the body, and some had separate servings of pork belly as there wasn’t enough of this little fella to go around.

We had heard that suckling pig can sometimes be quite gelatinous due to the high levels of collagen in a young pig, and unfortunately for us, it turned out to be true. There was a lot of fat, and some of it was gooey. However, when we did manage to dig up a chunk of meat, it was always beautifully tender and moist – well worth the forage and subsequent extraction.

For crackling connoisseurs, there was a mountain of crunch, bite and snap on the plate, although it required a lot of table salt to reach its usual, desired, heart-destroying level.

All in all it was one great big happy meat fest. Surprisingly though, it was the duck fat roast potatoes that ultimately stole the show. Perfectly crispy, richly golden, and luscious inside, they disappeared faster than a pheasant at the end of a shotgun. Every single one of them was perfect, a mighty achievement for the kitchen considering how many of us there were. They might just be London’s best roast potatoes.

Served alongside chunks of sweet carrot and crinkly kale, the whole lot was washed down with bottomless jugs of glorious gravy. I licked my plate clean.

The only downside of the meal came afterwards, when we ordered sticky toffee puddings. Cold and unimaginatively presented, it was clear they were just an expensive afterthought (£6 each), all the more frustrating, considering that The Albion used to serve a sticky toffee sundae that was probably the best desert I’d ever eaten in London. Bring that back, please?!

Pudding gripes aside, The Albion’s Sunday roast offering is truly one of the best in the capital. With a warm, homely pub interior (think wood paneling, candles, and good local brews on tap), and a lovely summer patio and garden, it feels more Home Counties then Streets of London.

And on thing’s for sure – when you leave The Albion, you’ll trot off into the night, happy as a little piggy.

PS: I hope you like our little video.

Meat ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Potatoes ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Veg ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7)
Yorkshire (N/A)
Gravy ★★★★★★★★☆☆(8)
Serving Size ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Menu Variety ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Service ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Atmosphere ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (8)
Value for money ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7)

Total Roasting: (8.2/10)

Albion on Urbanspoon

Onwards and Outwards

September 21, 2010

Dear Fellow Roaster,

Woah. It’s actually happening. Faster than I expected, too. I’m leaving ol’ Blighty. Packing up shop. Well, I have already packed up and sent the shop home. I leave next Tuesday. Its been 4 and a half glorious years in London, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. But it’s time to move home and embrace life down under. In case you are wondering, home is Australia, more specifically a little place called Perth.

I have delayed writing this post for as long as possible, mainly as I am still slightly in denial that I have to say goodbye. This blog has grown into my little baby, a toddler with a mouth stuffed full of roast beef, gravy dribbling down its chubby chin. And I have become quite attached to this little baby.

Grown from an idea thrown about by 4 housemates, the journey from the very first review at the Alwyne until now has been absolutely brilliant. Watching friends discuss gravy consistency, or analysing meat for tenderness and flavour; we transformed the standard sunday roast into a full blown critiquing session which has been both hilarious and extremely fulfilling.

So I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has joined us for a roast over the last 9 months, and everyone who has been reading and commenting about these roasts. You have helped make this blog what it is today, and without you I wouldn’t of been able to do it. Of course, we have locked in one final roast before I depart. This sunday, a proper affair, the likes of which have never before graced these pages. You and I are in for an absolute treat.

In the meantime however, Roasted Sundays shall continue onwards, and definitely more so outwards, providing Londoners with only the most in-depth and well photographed roast reviews from in and around the capital. I will remain on the board, albeit in a ‘New Roasting Development’ capacity, overseeing operations from the Australian office.

In my place, Industry Boy will be stepping up as Chief Executive Roaster (CER) and shall be taking your tastebuds forward from here on. I would also like to formally induct into the Roasted Collective, The Sweet Fiend, our resident dessert specialist. Please continue to make them both very welcome.

So with that I leave you. It’s been an absolute pleasure, and thank you again for reading thus far. I wish you all the best with your future roastings, and look forward to watching Roasted Sundays unfold from here on in.

Yours most sincerely in gravy,

Crackles

The Green
Clerkenwell
Roast Sirloin, Crown of Chicken & Pot Roasted Pork
£12.95
Roasting: 8.1/10

I’ll admit, I’ve been slack in the roasting department lately. Very slack. Not by choice, however. Its been a very busy month. Industry Boy’s stag weekend kicked it off with a wheelchair and a mankini, followed by a small affair the next weekend called a marriage (congratulations again my son, we’ll miss you) after which he buggered off to Thailand with his beautiful wife and hasn’t been seen since. Renardo and The Sweet Fiend have been pursuing careers in excessive weekend boozing over in Finland, while I even managed to get over to Krakow, which I haven’t shut up about since. Yes it really is that good.

However. In between all this excitement, I did manage to squeeze a roast in. One measly, pathetic roast for the month. I realise people need regular roast updates. And I apologise for leaving you in the dark for so long. The life-giving meat juice of the weekend was staunched, however now it shall flow, my pretties. Plus The Green is probably wondering what the hell happened to their review.

Twitter is great. Not only can I find recipes for the best beef rendang I have ever made, but my procrastination levels have reached an all time high, and the increase of my knowledge of completely useless yet highly entertaining bits of information has expanded quicker than a fart in a lift. It really is amazing.

Of course, by following predominantly food folk the other good thing about twitter is the recommendations of where you should and shouldn’t go to eat. Which is how we found The Green. (Thanks, Jen725).

Sat on a cozy little corner in Farringdon, this little beauty of a pub has enough tables outside to fairly easily secure a seat in the sun. I called ahead to book as we were 8, I would advise doing the same as it got a lot busier when we left. I think I have had a beer in here at some point, possibly before going to Fabric. In fact, I am pretty sure Renardo came here after a saturday night bender to try and eat a roast, even though he couldn’t actually see.

One of the first things I noticed was that the service at The Green was bang on. We were promptly asked if we would like some tap water for the table (perhaps we did look that hung) and our rather expensive Konig Ludwig’s (£4.20) arrived very quickly indeed. It is this kind of service I wish we got every sunday, especially after a late night when all you really want is to be spoon-fed into a roast induced coma. It really makes all the difference.

On the menu it states the food takes at least 20mins as it is freshly prepared. Our food took exactly 18 mins. We know because we timed it. I thought that was pretty fresh. This sunday the lads went for the full selection, 2 pot roasted rack of pork, 1 crown of chicken and 5 beef sirloin. There was also a vegetarian option of cauliflower and macaroni cheese – we’d love to see this as an addition to the veg.

Stuffing an overloaded fork into my gob, I found a mouthful of rich porky flavour, the golden brown band of crackling was light and airy – hard to fault. I’d like to know who their butcher is. Combined with the bed of creamed cabbage and mustard produced a beautiful flavour, and the soft textures just begged to be wolfed down as fast as possible. The apple sauce was a nice balance of tart and sweet, although I always seem to forget about it as I am too busy stuffing face.

We had some comments of the beef being too tough, and some comments of it being just fine. The steak sized slab oozing pink juice in the afternoon sun looked excellent to me, and I didn’t find it was overly tough, but then my mandibles are highly decorated in the art of roast devouring. Tough or not, the flavour was just right. The chicken sidestepped a fate of PRDD, although only just as the outer perimeter was erring on the side of overdone.

In proper banquet style, our vegetables arrived in 2 huge earthware pots, coming out swiftly after the food. One piled high with potatos, the other 3 shades of green holding buttered cabbage, runner beans and sweet peas. And if you really are a fat bastard like Renardo or myself, you can even ask for more. Yes, you read that right. Unlimited vegetables.

The veg themselves were great. I prefer crispy duck fat potatos over any other style, but that’s not to say these were bad. A lovely crust of golden spice sat around the soft edges, leading into an even softer interior. Fluffy goodness all over. The greens were some of the best I have had. A superb selection of runner beans, spinach and sweet peas, and just blanched enough to bring out the colour yet retain that lovely fresh crunch. Absolutely delicious.

Gravy was a bit of a sore point unfortunately. With Industry Boy out of action again we were left to own devices, the overall consensus was that although the flavour as ok, it was just far too watery. Gravy needs a bit of thickness to help with adhesiveness, there’s nothing like prepping a hunk of meat and spud with a thick coat of meaty juice before shovelling it into your eagerly awaiting mouth cave. Unfortunately, this gravy would just not stick. It did come in a very large jug though.

I suppose I should mention the interior, and the atmosphere, or ambiance. Worn wooden tables, chairs and floor seem to be the default furnishing at any ‘gastro pub’ these days. Chalk boards behind the bar, an animal head here or there, some bottles with candles and the odd funky lightshade. It’s not that I don’t like this style, or that it looks bad, it’s just that it seems to be pretty standard. But this is just my slightly jaded opinion. And besides, we don’t come for the furnishings. We come for the roast.

Generally we were extremely content with The Green. £12.95 was price point perfect, the staff were great and the location is spot on. You can wander up to exmouth market afterwards for a lazy beer, or, depending on which weekend it is you could even pop down to Fabric for one of the ridiculous On & On afternoons. You might even just catch Renardo in there.

With some fresh faces over from Oz it was a perfect introduction into the sunday roast. The meat was great, vegetables are always best when you can help yourself, and having the option of free refills means you don’t have to worry about Renardo scoffing the last spud. I’d be very interested to know whats on offer nearby, as we left feeling that The Green has definitely set the standard for the surrounding area.

Meat ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Potatoes ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Veg ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Yorkshire ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7)
Gravy ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ (2)
Serving Size ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Menu Variety ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)
Service ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Atmosphere ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Value for money ★★★★★★★★☆ (9)

Overall Roasting: (8.1/10)

Glastonbury
On a big farm owned by a nice man called Michael
Anything you want
£3.50 and up
Roasting: 5.9/10


Roast meat stalls come in abundance at events like Glastonbury. So it makes sense that on day 4 of our sleep deprived, cider overloaded deboucherous rollercoaster of a journey at the greatest festival on earth, we have a roast. It is a sunday after all, I think.

Walking around on the northern side of West Holts, we somehow remember where a roast lamb stand is from the previous day. The beautiful aroma coming from the glistening golden carcass smells like heaven, and our empty bellies rumble simoultaneously in anticipation.

We all settle on the lamb roll, while Birdman branches out and settles on the lamb roll with veg. I like this plan as I get to try a potato, and it makes my photos look better. We get our rolls and sit down. I sample a new potato which is slightly undercooked and over-herbed. The carrots are good however, soft and sweet with good orange hues.

In my semi-inebriated state I have stupidly over mint-sauced my roll, so any lamb flavour that was there is instantly replaced by an overpowering warm minty tang. This isn’t helped by the fact that the carver has somehow managed to place 2 massive chunks of fat in my roll, so my roll is actually nothing more than a minty fat burger with the odd bit of tasty meat.

The meat that is there is tender and flavoursome, I verify this by taking a cheeky bite of Strips’ roll while she’s not looking. Nice gamey flavour, a bit chewy but the bun is good, although at £5 its barely bigger than your average bacon buttie. So not exactly a bargain.

Annoyed with my lamb fail I decide to stop at a hog roast stand on the way back. ‘Voted best Hog Roast in the UK’, swoons the big sign. I watch the rolls leaving this green and gold ministry of pig, stuffed high with roast meat and apple sauce, and decide one day I would like to be on the voting panel for hog roasts.

5 minutes later and I’m wrapping my gob around medium sized baguette overflowing with aromatic pork. The meat is melt in your mouth tender, warm with subtle spices and a generous serving, but ultimately it’s this meat that ends up carrying the rest of the dish. The gravy and apple sauce are bland and taste of pack mix, and fail miserably in combating the debilitating dryness of the baguette.

Any seasoned roll architect knows that measurements of sauce are paramount in creating a satisfying hog roast roll experience. This is the first thing you learn in Roast College. Hungover and standing in the heat, the last thing any festival goer wants to encounter is a dry baguette in the middle of a chronic sauce shortage.

We populate a shady space on a bridge and sit down to watch the world go by. Orbital are on tonight and I am seeing them. To my left the start of the Mutoid Waste Co vehicles appear, doing their final lap for the weekend. Suddenly I’m not ready to leave. The last 72 hours have left me breathless with excitement, and I would eat dry baguettes and warm minty fat burgers for the next year if it meant this wasn’t to be the last day…

Meat ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7)
Potatoes ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ (4)
Veg ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ (5)
Yorkshire (N/A)
Gravy ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆(2)
Serving Size ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ (5)
Menu Variety ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Service ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Atmosphere ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Value for money ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7)

Total Roasting: (5.9/10)

** I’d just like to add that overall the festival food at Glasto was amazing. The generally high standard and variety blew me away; it was fresh, and once you get away from the stands near the big stages it was very well priced. The only stands I felt that were missing was a decent burger and a proper burrito (cold chicken and salsa in a pita doth not a burrito make). Daddy Donkey and Byron, I’m looking at you. Get involved.

Hawksmoor
Shoreditch
Beef
£15
Roasting: 9.3/10

There was some chatter about Hawksmoor prior to our most recent sunday sit-down. Some of the more dedicated roasters have been quipping, “technically it’s not really a pub”, while others chipped in with “they only do beef, what about the rest?”.

Well firstly, if you don’t like beef then you shouldn’t really be reading this blog. But please keep reading anyway. Secondly, even though we love a good pub roast, it would be clear insanity not to give the roast from one of (many would say the) best steakhouses in London a proper smashing. Even if they do ‘only do beef’.

An unassuming groundfloor on commercial road, inside Hawksmoor it’s all white walls and exposed brickwork, dark wooden tables, restored factory lights and, amongst other prints, a wonderful set of screenprinted diagrams showing all the different cuts from a cow. It’s quite minimal, and tastefully done. We liked the stack of sunday papers at the door, a nice reminder that although it’s definitely not a pub, a relaxed atmosphere is certainly present on a sunday.

A few laughs courtesy of fatbooth, a quick survey of our dining companions, namely the huge gent in a baby pink suit guarding a mound of doggy bags; and the family of 10, of which 5 kids were tucking into what looked like the famed Hawksmoor burger, (lucky little sods, have fun taking them to Burger King after that), we got some beers in.

The Meantime Wheat Beer arrived in a tankard that had clearly been yanked out of cyrogenic deep freeze. Shedding fragments of its icy coat, the sweet nectar that came from within drank like it was poured from the plunging cleavage of an extremely cold yet beautiful woman. Sweet fruit tones with a nice zing to round it off, no beer glass will ever be cold enough from now on. We love a good wheat beer, and this Greenwich offering was superb.

We tackle the menu, and what a menu it is. Supplied direct from the renowned Ginger Pig (butchery class coming up, excitement maximus), this is the real deal. Chargrilled chatueabriands and marbled porterhouses mooed softly across the table in silky sweet tones; sirloins and ribeyes stood in the shade of the wine list, grazing on triple fried chips and short rib bubble and squeak. Half a lobster even piped up asking us to pass the stilton hollandaise.

But this was a sunday, and on a sunday we roast. So the aforementioned selection, much to Renardo’s disappointment, were all out on the technicality of being char grilled. You have only one choice for the roast at Hawksmoor, and this sunday it was rump with all the trimmings. Having heard praise for the short rib bubble and squeak we also ordered 2 servings just to round things off.

Cut to 20 minutes later. We have our orders in. Our lovely canadian waitress has convinced The Sweet Fiend he wants a Napa Valley cab sav. Doggy bag man has left. The sun is still shining. And our roasts our arriving. They are placed on the table amid a sudden hush. Renardo’s leg starts twitching, Birdman fumbles with his napkin. The Sweet Fiend swirls his wine.

Three heavy slabs of deep pink meat with charcaol tinted exteriors lie sprawled next to a mound of honeyed carrots. A posse of shallots, skin bulging, sit steaming off to one side. A yorkshire Ben Nevis looks ready to erupt the entire family of roast potatos nestled within, while a glistening wedge of cabbage the size of a norwiegan spruce has been felled across this sprawling roasted landscape.

Birdman picks up a jug of bone marrow and onion gravy and drenches his yorkshire spud capsule. Renardo empties the rest. Our waitress quickly brings another one. First in line, a hefty slice of rump. Maintaining a wonderful deep meaty flavour of a well aged cut, the charcoal bites through resulting in a flavour unlike any roast we have had so far. We now see why this place commands such a god-like status amongst carnivores. The meat is just incredible.

The potatoes are also in a league of their own. Roasted in beef dripping, duck fat spuds move into second place against these little puppies. Golden, crunchy, soft in the middle, perfectly salted, all the things any respectable potato should aspire to. We counted at least 5 per plate, ample for a big appetite. The Yorkshire was bang on, good rise and not overly greasy, with strong walls providing temporary shelter for the spuds from their inevitable gravy soaked fate.

Simplicity was key for the carrots and cabbage. Sweet and crunchy textures of orange went well with the buttery green, both very fresh and cooked to a nice level of crunchy yet soft. The skin-on shallots were an original touch, nice and rustic, but we found the skins annoyingly fiddly to remove. Retaining a lot of heat, we had to wait a while before peeling and once done we resorted to leaving the skins on the table as there was just no room on the plate.

The gravy, like the meat, was next level business. How can bone marrow and onion gravy not be? It was flawless. We went through 2 jugs at pace, and we nearly asked for a round of gravy instead of beers. Forget bloody marys, do a gravy mary and serve it with the breakfast. We’d buy it. Rich and sweet, just thick enough and oh-so-moreish, it was quite easily the best we’ve had.

The ticks kept coming too. The short rib bubble and squeak (although initially misplaced) was good enough to be a meal on its own. Served in cast iron dishes, the tender meat from the ribs and sweet onion confit added a whole new dimension to this old school classic. Just quietly, we think it should be a permanent feature on the menu.

Unfortunately it seemed the bubble and squeak was too much with Renardo quietly conceding defeat. A foolish error from a veteran of the scene, everyone knows The Sweet Fiend always orders dessert. One trifle, a cornflake icecream and salted caramel icecream later and you have 4 comatose, yet very content roasters. The desserts were good, the salty sweet caramel probably the winner, but unfortunately the sweets were but a distant flavour in comparison to the roast.

We could go on about the Hawksmoor, we really could. But this is turning into a small novel. In conclusion, it was an absolutely bloody amazing roast. It was everything we expected and more, and it will easily be one of the best roasts you can have in London. The 3 core elements, the meat, the potatos and the gravy were done to such a high standard we almost wept. And it’s very reasonably priced for what you get. There are a hell of a lot of pubs out there serving a £15 roast, and the majority of them will never come close to Hawksmoor. We just wish we had been there sooner.

Meat ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Potatoes ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Veg ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Yorkshire ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)
Gravy ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Serving Size ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Menu Variety (N/A)*
Service ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)
Atmosphere ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Value for money ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)

Total Roasting: (9.3/10)

* We debated whether to include this category in the final score, but decided as Hawksmoor is ultimately a steak restaurant it should be omitted.

Hawksmoor on Urbanspoon

The Lock Tavern
Camden
Beef, Pork, Chicken & Vegetarian
From £9.50
Roasting: 6/10

An ode to Chalk Farm

Ive drunk in your pubs, and eaten your kebabs,
I’ve read in your parks, and exchanged swear words with chavs.

I’ve burnt my tounge on your coffee, slurped Marine Ice’s best,
I’ve seen goths mope on highstreets, put Yum Cha to the test.

I’ve roasted your roasts, and lined up for the gigs
I’ve walked your canals, and scoffed your kfc like a pig.

I’ve ridden your streets, done Asakusa times 10,
But now I’m friends with the dry cleaner, I need to start over again.

Adios, Chalk Farm, with your funny little quirks,
Your noisy night footpaths, and parking warden jerks.

I’ll be seeing you soon, as I ride through every day,
yes Archway is further, but I like it this way.

I have breakfast on the roof terrace, and a bbq at night,
We even have a veggie crop, a veritable chefs delight.

With all this comes new pubs, and by that I mean roasts,
So on that note I leave you, Chalk Farm, for the meal I love most.

By the time you read this review, I will of moved house. In case you forgot, moving house sucks arse. Massively. Don’t do it. As a result, this particular Sunday was not an organised one. So in this spirit of unorganisedness, it would make sense that this roast would have to be somewhere within walking distance of our almost empty house.

Somewhere within walking distance turned out to be the Lock Tavern. Regardless of the ridiculous ‘local card’ policy they have for late nights, (my ongoing beef with this place) The Lock has 2 great outdoor spaces made up of a leafy beer garden with plenty of shade out the back, while a sunny front facing roof terrace presents an ideal spot for quaffing multiple afternoon pints.

In the evenings The Lock gets mobbed with uber-cool camden kids, think of the Field Day crowd and you have it to a tee. The music policy is mighty similar as well, great fun for boozed out shennanigans, providing you have that elusive local card to get in.

Inside you’ll find those familiar worn wooden tables, quirky lampshades, sunken couches all watched over by staff that always manage to look effortlessly cooler than you do. Perfect for a lazy sunday of people watching.

Apparently, as we heard later in the day, The Lock’s pies are where it’s at. Which would make sense given the massive pie board with numerous mouthwatering combinations on there. I can’t remember exactly what they were but I do remember almost ordering a pie over the roast.

Instead I settled on the roast pork belly, and Strips went for the chicken. With a smattering of walk-ins holed up around the place it wasn’t exactly busy, and our roasts came out in record time. Presentation was good, and the serving size certainly ample, but the speedy delivery must have gone via the freezer as our mashed swede was stone cold and bland. Some butter and salt would of gone a long way, along with an oven.

Likewise, the stuffing balls were barely luke warm. We both love the idea of stuffing, it’s like the little extra present at christmas, hiding behind the tree. Only this little present was made of saxa ready-mix and tasted of cardboard. Sadly, it was yet another case of lovely idea, poor execution.

The rest of the plate maintained a good temperature. The spuds, although steaming hot, employed the potato boob-job to full use, a golden and crunchy outside stirring that familiar sensation of rising excitement only to reveal a dehydrated and flavourless interior. It seems potato boob jobs are becoming as regular as PRDD*.

Dispelling any preconceptions of PRDD, the chicken at The Lock was perfectly cooked. Moist and succulent, Strips had it demolished in record time. Her only complaint? It needed seasoning. Crushed sea salt and thyme would of been ideal.

I’ve forgotten how many times I’ve ordered the pork belly. Too many. The Locks offering had good flavour, and was tender enough, but the crackling on top could of done with longer in the oven as the sides were still too chewy. At £9.50 it’s certainly good value, but don’t expect the standard of the Water Poet or even The Princess.

The rest of of the veg, on a whole, really needed more seasoning. The carrots were, carrots. The broccoli – broccoli, and the gravy although flavoursome was too watery. A little butter thrown in with the broccoli, some honey and coriander with the carrots and a generous pinch of salt and pepper over the whole lot would of brought out the flavours nicely. The yorkshire was par for the course, although a wee bit too oily.

For £9.50, it could of been a great value roast. The cold mashed swede, dehydrated boob-jobs and general underseasoning of everything really let it down, although these are all areas that are easily improved. The foundations of any decent roast, the meat, was good enough certainly for the price, but until the rest of the plate comes together I’d be inclined to order one of the pies.

Meat ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6)
Potatoes ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ (1)
Veg ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ (2)
Yorkshire ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ (5)
Gravy ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ (4)
Serving Size ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Menu Variety ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Service ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Atmosphere ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)
Value for money ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)

Total Roasting: (6/10)

*PRDD – Pub Roast Dryness Disorder. The recurring phenomenon of over-cooked meat, usually associated with Chicken. See The Oxford review.

Lock Tavern on Urbanspoon

The Princess Of Shoreditch
Old Street
Beef, Pork, Chicken & Mixed Roast
From £13
Roasting: 7.8/10


The tyranny of abundant choice is the last thing anyone wants to face come Sunday lunchtime. Autonomy and freedom is all well and good, but when a nasty Saturday night hangover has reduced you to a blithering dribble, you just want to be spoon-fed to sleep.

Thankfully The Princess of Shoreditch is accommodating. The pub’s Sunday Roast menu takes away the pain of trying to pick between roast chicken, pork, or beef, by offering all three together on one plate of mollifying meat mayhem for £15.50.

Out of our table of 10, nine ordered the mixed roast (which goes to show how brave we all are). Crackles, who had celebrated his birthday the night before, decisively opted for the Roasted Kilravock Farm pork belly (£13), the drunken fool. We mocked his pitiful choice, as there was no way one measly belly of pork could out-satisfy a threesome of different meats, especially considering it included a slice of pork.

How wrong we were. When the food arrived and we’d tucked into our mixed roasts, it soon became clear that the Jack of all trades was a master of none. Whilst each slice of meat looked delicious, the beef was far too chewy, the pork a bit fatty, and the chicken much too dry.

Dismayed, we enviously watched Crackles stuff his face with juicy, tender chunks of pork and crunch his way through layers of gorgeously brown crackling, bastard. It should be noted that The Princess also offers a whole roasted organic chicken for two on their Sunday menu for £27, although they recommend you pre-order it. But who would order that with a mixed roast selection on offer? Not us, obviously.

The meat of course, is but one essential element of a Sunday Roast, so how did the Princess fare on the other parts? The duck fat roast potatoes were on the whole, wonderful, if but a little parched inside.

The roast vegetables – which included mashed swede, red cabbage, broccoli, and slightly undercooked carrots hidden under the slices of meat – were delicious and wholesome. The gravy was quite good if slightly watery, and the solitary Yorkshire pudding maintained its composure throughout an insensitive dissection (always a sign of a good chef).

Despite the fact the mixed roast failed to deliver on its promise of sublime satisfaction, we devoured every scrap like hungry dogs, for that is what we were.

Afterwards, feeling slightly unfulfilled, we ordered a selection of deserts (all £5.50) that included warm chocolate fondant, vanilla crème brûlée with mixed berry compote, and plum crumble with vanilla ice cream which our delightful waitress recommended.

Each one was simply a taste of heaven and perfectly presented, and soon we had forgiven The Princess for her meat misgivings, putting her failings down to our own inability to come to a decision. And considering the service was excellent throughout, with the large upstairs dining room providing the kind of homely wooden warmth one craves on a Sunday, we soon found ourselves marking The Princess up as an outstanding gastro pub.

Its location on a quiet Shoreditch street serves as a perfect launch pad for an afternoon of Sunday drinking, and as we twiddled our merry way through the cobbled streets exploring local taverns afterwards, the mantra of the S.A.S. seemed wholly appropriate for Crackles’ Sunday Roast glory. Who dares wins?

Meat ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7) – pork belly was more like an 8
Potatoes ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Veg ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Yorkshire ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7)
Gravy ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6)
Serving Size ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)
Menu Variety ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Service ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)
Atmosphere ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)
Value for money ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (7)

Total Roasting: (7.8/10)

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