Every Brit loves a roast, and I am certainly no exception, so why oh why do most restaurants limit roasts to a Sunday? Well they don’t here – Roast restaurant perched above the iconic Borough Market in South East London serves not only a delicious roast daily but they also use the highest quality seasonal ingredients (many of which are sourced from the market below) to create some of the finest classic British cooking that I have ever eaten.
At this time of year in particular, we all seek a little comfort food as the excitement of Christmas has been and gone and the novelty of detox January has come to pass, yet we remain in the depressing depths of winter. It was for this reason that when arranging a business dinner with a group of American’s last week I found myself craving the heartening fare of Roast and knew nothing else would suffice.
On taking the lift up to Roast we were met by clipboard wielding staff, who guided us into the piano bar to choose a pre-dinner aperitif from the extensive and experimental cocktail list – or “Market Tipples” as they are lovingly referred to here. Our stomachs quickly began to rumble so we were soon led to our table, where we made ourselves at home for the evening inside the former rejuvenated Portico of the Royal Opera House overlooking the market place below. Although the restaurant space is large and buzzing it is also surprisingly intimate and our fellow diners were a well-balanced mixture of business men sealing deals, friends celebrating birthdays and couples on dates creating the perfect ambiance to the evening. Enough about the restaurant though, what we all want to know about is the food, so let me walk you through the menu…
Not only is the regular a la carte brimming with goodies but the daily specials list is divine too so it really is tricky deciding what to go for. So to start, after much deliberation ,I finally plumped for the “Smoked Haddock Croquettes with Horseradish Mayonnaise and Foraged Herbs” which were quite simply delicious. The croquettes were bursting with great chunks of smoky haddock (unlike so many places where all you get is a lump of soggy potato) and were cooked to a crispy perfection before being beautifully offset by the fresh and firey horseradish. The mixture was exactly what I needed to liven up my taste buds ahead of the main event.
To sum up the main course, my colleague announced that if he had to choose a last supper, roast pork belly would be it, in fact, let me rephrase that: if he had to choose a last supper Roasts “Slow Roasted Free Range Pork Belly” would be it. This dish is heaven. The melt in your mouth pork falls apart the way a good slow-cooked pork ought to fall apart. The succulent and incredibly generous portion of pork was accompanied by deliciously crunchy crackling. Ohhh that crackling, I am still drooling at the memory – a blistered top, as dry and crunchy as an autumn leaf hiding a layer of yielding creamy fat beneath. Mmmm. So naughty but nice.
This all rested upon a soothing pile of fluffy buttery mash potato and a tart Bramley apple sauce. If you could plate up a comforting hug, this mash potato would be it. We greedily ordered a side portion of Kentish purple sprouting broccoli which really wasn’t needed as our plates were at capacity however this assisted nicely in mopping up the gravy and all our plates were left sparkling.
Despite being full to the brim there is one thing on a pudding menu that I simply cannot resist and that’s apple crumble. The humble British crumble is one of our national treasures and I took great pleasure in devouring this homely pud. The lovely short, crumbly crispness nestled above the hot sweet apple filling is a classic childhood desert and Roast ensured all my childhood memories of this were kept alive with this hearty pudding served with lashings of thick vanilla custard.
This was certainly a lean back, belly rubbing, good meal. Roast is the perfect place to go for a business dinner (I’m yet to try but I hear they make a mean fry up for the early birds), a date, a special occasion and to show off your “cool London knowledge” to friends from out of town. I cannot recommend Roast highly enough and strongly suggest you book a table here now!