Guest blogger Jeff Home reports on Sunday lunch at our local boozer.
Every Sunday around midday across our fine country, publicans arrange chairs around tables, adjust their horn-rimmed glasses and brush off ancient signage in the hope of enticing punters in to their invariably dingy and dark establishments. The British Sunday Roast is an institution.
Having recently visited The Dial Arch Pub (a newly opened Young’s Brewery pub on the Royal Arsenal estate) for a normal lunch, I wasn’t really expecting much more than a couple of slices of watery meat and some over-cooked vegetables swimming in a pool of Bisto.
I was mistaken… and pleasantly surprised when my Roast Lamb arrived.
The first bite, as we all know, is with the eye. Whilst the Yorkshire Pudding was a rather dodgy-looking affair (looking like it had been assaulted on a char-grill) it was not burnt at all… but the eye was struggling to determine this and it had me cringing to begin with. Besides which, you don’t expect a Yorkshire Pudding with Lamb.
When ordering we didn’t have the opportunity to specify quite how we’d like the meat cooked (I like my meat rare to medium rare – but invariably order rare simply because mediocre restaurants always tend to overcook their meat) but as you can see, this wasn’t a problem – the lamb was pink without being bloody and cooked confidently enough to ensure the (reasonably small amount of) fat added to the flavour.
The Lamb is only available “to share” – meaning two people at the table need to order it. This wasn’t a problem – although I was expecting some kind of trencher arrangement where we would be able to fight over who got what. Alas… we were both served individual plates for dinner. How civilised.
The two ribs of Lamb, as I have mentioned already, were nicely pink without any sign of blood (well rested and looked after in the kitchen) and the small amount of fat was cooked to enhance the overall flavour. The smell was mouthwatering, but this was nothing compared to the taste… a hint of mint and a classic “young lamb” taste that didn’t appear contrived at all. You can only pull this off with good quality ingredients, and I believe that was what they were serving us today.
The UK “nanny state” has it’s own version of the classic food pyramid where we are encouraged to eat “5 a day” (referring to 5 portions of fruit and/or vegetables)… and whilst there were more than 5 individual vegetable items on my plate, I didn’t feel they overwhelmed the meal (and the environment was cordial enough that I could probably have not even bothered eating them). But I like Parsnips – and their spin on Roast Potatoes got my mouth watering for more (and maybe this is where they started to fall down somewhat – a few more potatoes would have gone down a treat).
As it was the carrots, broccoli, parsnips and roast potatoes were tasty and very well presented on the plate before hitting my fork… with the slightly sweet glaze on the parsnips particularly ticking my aesthetes.
Back to the Yorkshire Pudding which I used to mop up the gravy on my plate. It was dry and looked it had spent too long in the sun… certainly not something I would serve if I was cooking. It was, however, light and airy… and served it’s purpose well. I would like to see something a little more golden as a rule, however.
Will I be going back to The Dial Arch Pub again for a Sunday Roast? Definitely. Another in our group spent most of the time raving about the Roast Beef – so there is room for another review soon.
Other that cooking it at home, they do the best Sunday Roast that doesn’t require public transport to get to. And the kitchen will keep on cooking them until 9pm (apparently). I think 9pm is a little late for lunch… but then I had a classical upbringing.
Contact details: The Dial Arch, Major Draper Street, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, SE18 6GH. Telephone 020 3130 0700.