Posts Tagged With: Buzzing atmosphere

After-work Pubs: Part 1

More fun at More London

Nearest Station: London Bridge

Elephant-tastic

Elephant-tastic

Everyone enjoys a cheeky pint or a flirty glass of wine after work, no? You know how it is: you get a group of you from work, you head down to your usual post-work watering hole (“the meeting room downstairs”, as my current company calls it), and you all have a natter and a couple of drinks and then head on your merry ways – unless, of course, it’s a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday night, or any other night of the working week, and things escalate and get messy, and you end up partying hard. Andrew WK HARD.

Thing is, that pub or wine bar you always head to every time someone proposes a drink? Unless you happen to work somewhere really cool and trendy, you would probably never, ever frequent your local watering hole in any other circumstances, because either a) it’s crap b) it’s where your colleagues/directors hang out c) it’s always crowded or d) it’s bloody pricey. No matter how much you avoid it otherwise, inevitably, you always find yourself there, putting up with it until that time when it’s safe to resume your life elsewhere.

BUT: what if you had a choice? What if you were able to propose another location, just to “mix things up a bit”, to “bring something new to the table”, to find somewhere else just that bit less odious etc. etc.? Well, this new series of reviews is just for you. It does not profess to be comprehensive – it is purely based on where I’ve had the chance to go to for my after-work drinks during my potted career around London. It does not profess to offer magical places of alcoholic delight – some locations are just lacking  in good choices, but we just have to shut up and put up with what we have.

So, first off, we’re going to that God-forsaken No Man’s Land: south of the river (I jest, but only because I’m a south Londoner now). More specifically, I’m talking about that stretch between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, including the More London development.

Now, my office and team were pretty small, so I did not necessarily drink with my colleagues as such, but I still arranged to meet with friends and my girlfriend at the time at some of the local establishments for a refreshing, winding down/pumping up drink. Here are some of the places I used to hit up:

Horniman at Hays

Hays Galleria, SE1 2HD, 020 7407 1991, http://www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/thehornimanathayslondonbridge/

Dark woods, chandeliers and ales. Sourced from Horniman at Hays website

Dark woods, chandeliers and ales. Sourced from Horniman at Hays website

This Nicholson’s pub has quite a few great things going for it: riverside location with a sizeable terrace, a rather large and characterful interior, an excellent and ever-changing range of guest ales and, previously, not bad prices. It’s great for sipping a pint of ale by the river, watching the sun set over the City, and having a natter with friends. The food’s pretty decent too, if you’re looking for something British and hearty.

Unfortunately, all of these positives do mean that the place can get horrifically busy in the immediate post-work crush. As in, elbows-out-sorry-don’t-mind-me-as-I-slip-and-slide-my-way-across-your-chest/back-and-inadvertently-fondle-you-with-my-beverage busy. Service does tend to be brisk at the bar though, seeing as they’re mainly pouring pints or glasses of wine, meaning you never have to wait too long.

On the flipside, the crowd does mean that it can be quite a lively place, good enough for getting you buzzing again after a hard day at the office. This is especially true in summer, when the crowds can comfortably spill out to the riverside and enjoy the fresh air.

Typical riverside views from the Horniman at Hays

Typical riverside views from the Horniman at Hays

I do miss being able to go to this pub more frequently. I am just about due a free pint from their discontinued loyalty card scheme – maybe I should see if I can go claim it.

VERDICT – A good place. Decent pub in a great setting. Sort yourself out with a pint of one of their guest ales, grab a table outside and enjoy the view over the Thames. Just bear in mind that everyone else is probably thinking the same thing.

The Mudlark

Montague Close, SE1 9DA, 020 7403 7364, http://www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/themudlarklondonbridge/

Traditional beers on offer, as the ceiling goes. Ha! Sourced from Mudlark website

Traditional beers on offer, as the ceiling goes. Ha! Sourced from Mudlark website

A mudlark is someone who goes scavenging in river mud for any items of value – which, if you strike lucky, can be quite lucrative sometimes – but you certainly won’t find any in this pub, especially not of the traditional type. It’d be a bit smelly if you did get them coming in, so it’s no big loss.

What you get instead is another Nicholson’s pub with lots of character (imparted by heavy wooden beams and pillars supporting a white-washed brick ceiling) and a decent range of guest ales. Nicholson’s seem to do pretty well on guest ales and on ensuring their pubs look like they have lots of tradition and history behind them which, as far as pubs go, is quite a good thing. You expect a pub to have some history and character, otherwise what’s the point? Especially in an area as historic as Southwark, you want something that’s reflective of the surroundings.

But enough on that. What’s it like to drink at the Mudlark? I’ve always managed to find space to sit down, no matter how busy it got – either in the rather cosy interior or in the equally cosy courtyard outside. Cosy it may have been, but it’s not cheek-by-jowl cosy, so you can still have those intimate conversations. However, it can get a bit loud inside, but not deafeningly so, allowing for you to sit/stand around with colleagues in awkward silence not because you can’t hear them but because you don’t have anything in common with them.

So what I quite enjoyed doing with friends was coming here, having a pint and then following it up with a pie. The pies at the Mudlark are pretty decent and substantial for what they are, and will give you that wonderful warming feeling that is vital for survival in these cold winter months.

Pies, pies and more pies

Pies, pies and more pies

I still pop here if I am meeting with a friend in the London Bridge area – as it’s just around the corner from the station, it’s a perfect meeting spot before heading on home to New Cross.

VERDICT – A good place. Another characterful pub set in decent environs, with a good selection of ales and food that does satisfy. Despite its small size, there always seems to be enough space to squeeze a group in, which just adds to the busy and buzzing atmosphere. And as a stopping point before the rest of the evening, it’s perfect – down your pint, and away you go through London Bridge station.

 

The Shipwrights Arms

88 Tooley Street, SE1 2TF, 020 7378 1486, http://www.shipwrightsarms.co.uk/

Just so you know what it looks like from the outside. Sourced from The Shipwrights Arms website

Just so you know what it looks like from the outside. Sourced from The Shipwrights Arms website

Now this is a pub I did not frequent as often as the Horniman or the Mudlark, even though it was closer to the office.

According to their website, the pub was built in 1884 and still maintains its original tiled murals (ahh see, there we go – the history). Another feature which they’re quite proud of, and which does distinguish it from other bars and pubs in the area, is the high-ceilinged, cavernous space inside, within which the island bar in the middle seems rather dwarfed. It makes it feel rather roomier than it actually is – the place does get busy, presumably from the More London crowd situated just across the road.

The only times I’ve been have been during summer, so standing outside on the pavement in the sunshine has been pretty alright and certainly much more preferable to staying indoors.

So what is it about the Shipwrights Arms that meant I did not go there that frequently? There was no real particular reason, but perhaps there was a first impression that was formed in a very superficial fashion: the clientele there seems to be very male-dominated. Speaking as someone who has worked in the City and now Canary Wharf, to criticise a place for being male-dominated now sounds a bit rich of me… but I guess I like places that seem to offer a wide appeal, not that there’s anything particularly about The Shipwrights Arms itself that necessarily disadvantages itself in that manner any more than the other places. And certainly, the crowd doesn’t seem intimidating whatsoever. It’s just a, you know, standard pub.

Ah well. If you do find yourself at The Shipwrights Arms, you’re not doing too badly. There are far, far worse places to find yourself for a cheeky pint after work.

VERDICT – An okay experience. It’s a standard pub that has some distinctive features. It never struck me as being the most attractive and appealing place to go to, but that hasn’t stopped me from popping in there every now and then. And that’s probably what it’s good for – an occasional change from the usual watering hole. Certainly doesn’t do any harm.

Currently listening to: Andrew WK – Party Hard

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Categories: British, Pub | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A brush with tiger’s milk: Having ceviche at, er, Ceviche

Copyright of Ceviche. Sourced from Ceviche website

Copyright of Ceviche. Sourced from Ceviche website

Cuisine: Peruvian

Address: 17 Frith Street, W1D 4RG

Area: Soho

Nearest Station: Leicester Square/Tottenham Court Road

Tel.: 020 7292 2040

Website: http://cevicheuk.com/

Pricing: Medium

Good For: Sharing many dishes, Introduction to new foods, Efficient service, Good cocktails, Zing, Buzzing atmosphere

Wow. I’d never tried octopus that good before. Seriously. The texture, the taste, the marinade… I would decimate the world’s population of octopus if I could guarantee that they would end up as this dish.

Let’s rewind a few hours. I was feeling rather sluggish after helping get a birthday girl absolutely hammered the night before (she’d boldly claimed that she was “remarkably sober” after dinner. Was that the reddest flag you’ve ever seen?), and was in need of a hearty meal, for I can assure you that thin, cold pizza, no matter how tasty, does not quite cut it.

I was therefore a bit concerned that my suggestion of Ceviche for dinner that night with a friend was a bit ill-thought through – they specialise in small Peruvian dishes, which to my mind did not quite scream, “I am a meal that will kick your hangover’s arse”.

I need not have worried though. Through a skilful and deft selection process (me and my friend are naturals at this, obviously), we managed to secure for ourselves some pretty amazing dishes.

And what was very surprising was the speed at which these things arrived at our bar-side perches. The place was full and they were only able to give us stools at the bar – not too cramped, not too uncomfortable, but all just a bit high to be good for normal-sized *cough* people like my good self – but that did not seem to get in the way of swift service: I hadn’t even had time to decide what my back-up cocktail would be (my original non-alcoholic choice not being available) when BOOM, the first dishes arrived.

To start with, we had the Don Ceviche (fresh sea bass ceviche in Amarillo chilli tiger’s milk, limo chilli, sweet potato and red onions) to enliven our taste buds and whet our appetites. For those not in the know, ceviche is essentially good cuts of raw fish, usually sea bass, marinated in a flavoured and spiced citrus mix that is often known as tiger’s milk. A very tantalising dish, of which we hoped the Don Ceviche would be an apt introduction.

The sea bass was chunky and soft, with a great texture in each bite. The marinade was zingy and crisp, with the chilli working together with the citrus/vinegar to really sting your mouth (note to self: do not have acidic dishes when you have a mouth ulcer… ouch). It was flavourful and rather more-ish.

The Lomo Saltado (beef fillet, sliced, flame cooked with red onions, tomatoes and proper chips) was ordered under stern instructions from my brother, Mr Beef Man himself, and it did not disappoint. The strips of beef were rare and tender (a bit too rare for my friend), and had a delicious umami feel about them, encased in a slightly smoky grill flavour. The oily marinade was good for dipping the chips into, but maybe if it had been made a bit saucier, we would have something more substantial to work with.

Don Ceviche and his companions, Pulpo y Chorizo

Don Ceviche and his companions, Pulpo y Chorizo

But the stand-out dish, as you’ve probably guessed (if you were paying attention earlier on), was the pulpo y chorizo (marinated and braised octopus and chorizo skewer, with a samphire and black quinoa salad). I will admit that the chorizo was the main draw for us, but woah – that octopus made a name for itself. ‘Succulent’ is definitely the word that springs to mind: juicy and tender with real substance to it, it was the texture of the octopus that really won me over. And it was a perfect match with the chorizo and the samphire salad (and I guess the quinoa too…? Slightly superfluous though). We both enjoyed this so much that we had a second portion sent over straight from the kitchen to satisfy our salivating appetites.

As a bit of an after-thought, we thought that the second order of pulpo y chorizo would benefit from being accompanied by some chicken saltado tequeños (wanton [sic] fritters filled with cheese, chard and Botija olives), primarily because we were intrigued to find out what wanton food was like. It was rather restrained; tasty and chunky filling, crispy and thin skin… a good fried dumpling, but disappointingly not excessive or gratuitous or even faintly promiscuous.

This was all a good spread for two people (if perhaps a bit pricier than expected… curse our hungry stomachs and their desire for a second wave of food), and most certainly met the criteria of being a hearty, fulfilling meal. Furthermore, although I was a bit wary of hair of the dog, my El Beso cocktail (lemongrass infused pisco, fresh lemongrass, lime, ginger and guanabana juice) was an excellent pick-me-up, keeping with the zingy feel of the evening – a kiss, if you will, to rekindle the life in my hangover-ridden body (eerruugh cheeeesy).

As the service was quick and efficient, and the food was swiftly delivered to our perches, we were in, fed and out all in just over an hour – and that only because we decided to skip dessert and go to Haagen Dazs in Leicester Square in order to develop diabetes.

VERDICT – Highly recommended. It has a fun and fresh atmosphere, which when teamed up with quick service and some killer dishes makes this a properly good dinner outing. Ceviche did a good job in introducing me and my friend to Peruvian food, and did so in an unashamed and bold manner which fits in with the rather vibrant and lively feel they’ve got going there. But less talk, more pulpo y chorizo, mmkay?

Currently listening to: Chthonic – Kaoru

Categories: Peruvian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dining with La Fayette and Washington: Balthazar comes to London

Copyright of Balthazar. Sourced from Balthazar website

Copyright of Balthazar. Sourced from Balthazar website

Cuisine: French

Address: 4-6 Russell Street, WC2B 5HZ

Area: Covent Garden

Nearest Station: Covent Garden

Tel.: 020 3301 1155

Website: http://www.balthazarlondon.com/

Pricing: High

Good For: Smart dining, Buzzing atmosphere, That je ne sais quoi feeling, Place for romance, Proper service, Extensive French wine list

It’s hard not to take notice when one of New York’s finest French restaurants decides that it’s about time to head over the Atlantic and set up shop in a prime location in Covent Garden.

It’s even harder when your friends blast frantic emails around trying, nay, demanding to get a date in the diary to go check it out. Man, their excitement is infectious…

Before our big dinner together, I was able to get a ‘sneak preview’ of sorts when my brother scheduled the first of his many birthday dinners there (see here for another one of his birthday treats). I felt a bit naughty, getting there ahead of my friends, but sometimes in this cut-throat world of ours, you just have to look out for yourself.

Not that having a birthday dinner with my brother and my darling mother was exactly the greatest act of betrayal. I think.

It was a rather pleasant evening – sat amidst grand splendour, surrounded by scrubby yet chic mirrors and bathed in golden mood lighting, we dined well that night and generally quite enjoyed ourselves. I dined on a rather agreeable lapin à la moutarde, which was succulent and creamy, whilst my brother had steak tartare and oysters (which suited his low-carb diet perfectly, despite how extravagant and sumptuous that all sounds) and my mother had the moules frites.

To finish things off, we had the raspberry soufflé with crème anglaise, which we were informed was their signature dessert. And it was delightful – once that spoon dug in through the crust, you entered a realm of saucy and smooth goodness. Never have I had a soufflé that delicate – it was a real triumph.

A towering yet delicate soufflé

A towering yet delicate soufflé

But apart from that soufflé? All serviceable and well-executed dishes – but not mind-blowing. They were just decent, nothing more. Even trying to remember back to the rabbit I had is a bit of a struggle, as nothing from that dish jumped out as being absolutely amazing, as I would expect from a place of Balthazar’s hype. Was I wrong to have such high expectations, or would I just have to wait for my second visit in order to get that brilliant Balthazar experience?

Alas, it was not quite to be – that second visit was a bit of an odd one. From getting one of my friend’s order wrong (a simple case of forgetting to take the bun out of the bunless burger) to completely wrecking another friend’s dining experience – she had to send her rack of lamb back TWICE, the first time because it was inexplicably half the size of the other rack of lamb on the table, the second time because it was still raw inside – we had a pretty rough time of it. You know when you’ve got that legitimate complaint but you’re too embarrassed to do anything about it? Yeah, that was us. Our waiter was absolutely amazing though, ever-willing to take that dish back until the kitchen got it right, no matter how much flak from the chef I’m sure he took. They were very quick to offer us her rack of lamb, as well as dessert for the entire table, on the house as a means of saying sorry – a pretty good recovery, and one that would make me doff my hat to them, if I wore hats. But still, it’s always very awkward and uncomfortable when you find yourself in that situation in the first place.

Desserts for all, on the house!

Desserts for all, on the house!

And now let’s look to the food: apart from having some of the biggest onion rings I have ever seen (which were crunchy and well-seasoned), I had the duck confit with roasted potatoes, cipollini onions, wild mushrooms and frisée salad. It was very tasty and delectable, with suitably crisp skin and tender duck meat, but again when I think back to it I am hard-pressed to consider myself wowed by it.

How big is that onion ring?

How big is that onion ring?

Duck duck duck... not goose

Duck duck duck… not goose

And let’s consider the crème brûlée – it did come with a wonderfully crisp and fluffy madeleine, but it was just short of absolutely creamy loveliness. I’m putting my neck on the line here, but I would offer up Le Relais de Venise’s version as one of the best ones I’ve had in London.

Hmm, nothing enhances dessert than a bit of Madeleine on the side

Mmm, nothing enhances dessert than a bit of Madeleine on the side

Why this obsession with being wowed? Balthazar has come in to London, on a wave of hype, encased in an absolutely gorgeous Parisian bistro setting that feels so warm and comforting. When my friend made a dinner reservation for six, the earliest date they could offer her was nearly two months away. Surely it’s reasonable to expect that the food should live up to all that?

But considering that I still rave about the meal that I had with my ex some years ago at the Bleeding Heart in Farringdon, and considering that I can still fondly remember most of the details of my experience with her at Clos Maggiore in Covent Garden, both of which are roughly similar (if just a smidgeon higher) in price to Balthazar, AND considering that I had just as much fun at the very reasonable neighbourhood bistro Le Sacré Coeur in Islington, ultimately I find that Balthazar is not the place I will be falling over myself to recommend to someone if they want an outstanding French meal.

Certainly, go for the one-time experience, the mood, the atmosphere, the very extensive and commendable wine list (we enjoyed a bottle of the Château Villa Bel-Air ’07 from Graves, Bordeaux), heck even for a taste of proper and courteous service. Balthazar can give you all of that by the bucket load. But maybe do what my mum does when she and her friends baulk at paying through the nose for an expensive-and-not-quite-worth-it-yet-atmospheric restaurant: go there just for dessert (most certainly the raspberry soufflé – that is worth the trip) or for afternoon tea.

VERDICT – An okay experience. The attempt to recreate a grand French bistro in New York and in London (I’m told they’re almost identical) is successful, and you could spend a lot of time there soaking up the bustling atmosphere and admiring les très français waiters avec leur je ne sais quoi… but if you’re looking to be wowed by the food, this is not the place for you.

Currently listening to: Cali – Que se soucie de moi

Categories: French | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cocktails and shenanigans: Fun times at London Cocktail Club, Goodge Street edition

Copyright of The London Cocktail Club. Sourced from The London Cocktail Club website

Copyright of The London Cocktail Club. Sourced from The London Cocktail Club website

Cuisine: Cocktail bar

Address: 61 Goodge Street

Area: Fitzrovia

Nearest Station: Goodge Street

Tel.: W1T 1TL

Website: http://www.londoncocktailclub.co.uk/

Pricing: Medium

Good For: Showpiece cocktails, Good cocktails, Raucous night, Being friends with the bartenders, Hip hop dancing, Buzzing atmosphere

Being friends with some borderline alcoholics (ha! Joke lang – they’re really full-blown alkies and on their way to cirrhosis) does have its perks sometimes, such as being introduced to fun and exciting places like the London Cocktail Club on Goodge Street.

I can’t quite remember the first time I went there, but I do recall being quite intrigued as I’d heard positive things about the place – interesting cocktails, electric vibe, fun and mixed crowd etc. What I didn’t quite appreciate at the time is how off-the-walls crazy it can get: the last time I was there, the place erupted as it was the birthday of one of the bartender’s best friends – people were dancing on the bar, the guys behind the bar were doing shots, cocktails (and the bar) were being set aflame… the good times were in full flow.

Everyday they're shuffling - it's a mighty expensive habit, mind. Photo courtesy of a friend!

Everyday they’re shuffling. Photo courtesy of a friend!

So what is it that seems to create a fun atmosphere at the LCC? (The first thing I would say is that if I were to pack in my day job and become a bartender (or do they call them mixologists there?), I would like to work at LCC. Those guys look like they are having an absolutely smashing time, and it does make me feel just a wee bit jealous.

Why the jealousy? Well, change management consultancy most certainly does not involve any of the following: making wicked looking cocktails, looking awesome whilst doing so, partying at the same time and generally being the most popular people in the room. I mean, I could try it out tomorrow at work, but I’m not so sure the client would fully appreciate it (philistines).

What else makes LCC such an enticing concept? When my friends and I want to throw some wicked shapes on the dance floor that put everyone else to shame, I generally like to do it to some heavy hip hop stylings, and the guys at LCC seem to agree that playing Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z’s ’99 Problems’, early Snoop Dogg  and other hip hop classics is a guaranteed way of setting an atmosphere conducive for dancing pleasantries.

But let’s not forget the reason that LCC exists: it’s a cocktail bar and it makes cocktails. Funky cocktails. Intriguing cocktails. Flavourful cocktails. Smooth cocktails. A whole gamut of cocktails. And generally they’re quite good, thankfully. Otherwise, calling themselves the London Cocktail Club would be a bit of an unfortunate misnomer.

I’ve been trying to work my way through their gin section, as I think gin is what classy gentlemen drink (note: I do actually quite like gin), and because, as I’ve just found out whilst writing this review, the Goodge Street branch of the LCC is described as their Punk Gin Palace. So far, I have not had any misses and have quite enjoyed the crisp and refreshing tastes of their gin creations, such as their take on the Pegu Club. Alas, I’ve always been having far too much fun to take any snaps of the drinks, except for the lonely one below. That is a cocktail in that golden syrup can. And yes, there was golden syrup in there. It was a spiffingly scrummy dessert cocktail. Mmm.

Sweet nothings

Sweet nothings

Whilst I would wholeheartedly encourage you find that non-descript stairwell on Goodge Street leading down to this basement gem (and ask you to take me with you), I would have to say that there are a few caveats that you must accept if you want to really enjoy things:

  1. It can get quite busy in there and it is quite narrow and cosy, so this is not the place for people who fear personal space invaders
  2.  You can end up waiting some time at the bar trying to order your drinks – it helps to either be a friend of the bar or a very pretty girl who’s good at getting attention (thankfully my friends are both – I love you guys!!). I always tend to order two drinks at a time, but suggest that everyone else doesn’t so that I don’t have to wait so long the next time around
  3. If you don’t like bars where they pump out some loud tunes, this place is not for you
  4. The place closes at 12am (say what????)

So, bearing all that in mind – when are we next having a drink there?

VERDICT – A good place. I very much like the atmosphere, the crowd, the drinks and the music, and every time I’ve been we’ve always had a smashing time. And with a drinks menu that extensive, I’m sure that there will always be reason for us to keep on going back for more and more.

Currently listening to: Reuben – Parties Break Hearts

Categories: Cocktail Bar | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gotta get down on Sunday: A roast for you and a roast for me at The Pig & Butcher

Copyright of Pig & Butcher. Sourced from Pig & Butcher website

Copyright of Pig & Butcher. Sourced from Pig & Butcher website

Cuisine: British

Address: 80 Liverpool Street, N1 0QD

Area: Angel

Nearest Station: Angel/Highbury & Islington

Tel.: 020 7226 8304

Website: http://www.thepigandbutcher.co.uk/

Pricing: Medium

Good For: Buzzing atmosphere, Filling meal, Smart-casual dining, Beer selection

“The earliest booking I can get for Sunday Roast is 6pm,” my friend’s message read. This was a perfectly good time for an early dinner – but as a lunch (which was the original intention), this was somewhat pushing it a bit.

The Pig & Butcher in Islington is a popular place, no doubt about it. It was heaving with people by the time I got there, and so it was a struggle to get through the closely-packed tables and the pressing crowd to meet my friend at the bar.

The atmosphere was buzzing, to say the least. The sounds of a thousand conversations reverberated off the wooden panelling, the wooden floor, the wooden fixtures and the wooden furniture, making for an exciting feel but also a bit of loud environment for talking. This was a bit of a shame, as there was a lot of catching up that needed doing.

As we waited at our booth for the others to arrive, I was able to sample the very extensive beer list and display some ale snobbery (I am such a sucker for these). The Hackney Brewery Golden Ale was a good choice, being suited for lovely spring evening – not too bitter, with a rounding and warming flavour that enveloped my tongue in a slight hint of sweetness. Now that I read that last sentence, my gosh doesn’t that sound pretentious? If I ever start carrying around a spitting bucket, please do feel free to slap me.

In any case, the pretentiousness was not allowed to blossom, as the rest of the crew arrived and we got down to the business of ordering. Sunday Roasts all around – what else could it be on a Sunday?

Roast beef - all juiced and raring to go

Roast beef – all juiced and raring to go

I managed to get a good glimpse of a friend’s roast beef, as it was mistakenly placed in front of my salivating eyes. As you can see from the photo, it looked ridiculously juicy and almost creamy looking – it was an enticingly pink colour all throughout, but still had a tasty-looking charred exterior. As it was taken away and given to the right recipient, I could feel the food envy building…

Roast lamb - meek and mild

Roast lamb – meek and mild

But as my roast lamb arrived, the envy dissipated and was replaced with pride. Again, pink all throughout, with a layer of charred fat and skin looking extremely juicy and devilish. But whilst the lamb was juicy and really flavourful, I did find it a bit chewier than expected – it wasn’t as melt-in-the-mouth as other lamb I have had, and so it did put my jaw to work. As for the vegetables, they were cooked just right and had a satisfying bite to them, but could have done with just a smidgen of seasoning to liven them up a bit (my family’s local in Surrey actually goes the extra mile and has a selection of maple-glazed vegetables, usually parsnips, carrots and squash, with lightly-pickled red cabbage). However, the potatoes were superbly crispy, and the Yorkshire pudding was fluffy, doughy and crunchy, all at the same time.

Feeling the food envy come back, I desired to try the beef and so managed to swap some lamb with a friend – and yes, that small mouthful of beef was as good as it first looked. Perhaps next time I will have to go for that.

Surprisingly, we were not all completely stuffed with those hefty roasts: there was still space for dessert! Or some dessert at least – there were six of us sharing three desserts (the girls were watching their petite waist lines; me, not so much).

A sweet way to end the day

A sweet way to end the day

We had the parkin with toffee sauce and clotted cream (a luxurious sticky toffee-type pudding without the dates; the clotted cream added good richness to the slightly-thin caramel sauce), the apple & rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice cream (lots of crumble which I always enjoy, along with soft and sweet apples and rhubarb) and what I think was the malted chocolate mousse with hazelnut praline and milk sorbet (I remember this less well, as it was at the far end of the table).

It was, all in all, a leisurely (and very) late Sunday Roast lunch, perfect for a group of friends to meet and catch up over. We therefore rolled our way out of the Pig & Butcher, big and contented smiles on our faces, ready to face the oncoming night and the dreary Monday morning that it heralded.

VERDICT – A good place. It had a nice feel about it, as befitting a rustic city pub in the middle of classy Islington, and the busy atmosphere definitely contributed to the vibe (if you don’t mind the noise, at least). It was a good solid Sunday Roast, which whilst not the best I’ve had, would be more than enough to tempt people out of their homes and away from their own home-cooked versions. It’s definitely a place to check out for the rest of the week.

Currently listening to: Our Lady Peace – Middle of Yesterday

Categories: British, Pub | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment