A really good Sunday Roast is a very fine thing indeed. But how to define ‘really good’?
Perhaps surprisingly, the element that comes first for me is roast potatoes. Yep, spuds over meat (though that’s a very close second). Roasties that are beautifully fluffy inside but have a properly crunchy exterior (that doesn’t give up its crisp at the first sign of gravy or steam from the heat) are paramount!
The meat is still very important, and whether it’s beef, lamb, pork or chicken I look for plenty of flavour, tenderness and moistness. And there’s an extra thumbs up for restaurants that source British meat, of course.
Next, the gravy. It has to be generous on the plate (or a jug of extra on the side) and with bags of flavour that complements the meat and spuds.
Yorkshire puddings are a wondrous thing so anywhere that includes them with all roasts, not just with the beef, gets another extra thumbs up.
When it comes to the other vegetables, I’m a little more relaxed though not, of course, without opinions! I really dislike pickled or fermented cabbage – fine with big fat bratwurst but not with my Sunday roast, thanks… And peas, whilst usually a benign vegetable choice, have a habit of scattering all over the plate in a way I don’t think works with roast meat and gravy.
Give me savoy cabbage and carrots and I’m as happy as Larry. Add something special (such as a slice roasted squash) and it’s yet another extra thumbs up!
With a dearth of options in my local neighbourhood for a really great Sunday roast, I am more willing to travel further afield. A few weeks ago, Pete and I headed down to Hatchetts in Mayfair, which we visited for dinner shortly after they opened in July. Hatchetts have now introduced a Sunday roast to their offering and it’s a cracker.
Having had no breakfast, and with my belly rumbling, I accepted the offer of bread and ordered a starter, though we shared one between us to so as not to spoil our appetite for the roasts to come.
Smoked salmon (£9) dotted with dollops of caper and raisin puree was served with lightly toasted brown soda bread. The light smoke on the fish and sweet sharp puree mean we made very quick work of the dish.
Time for the roasts! I chose the Marinated leg of blackface lamb, spiced autumn squash, rosemary gravy and mint sauce (£18). I was not disappointed.
Two thick slices of beautifully flavoured and tender lamb with four perfect roast potatoes, a Yorkshire pudding, a pile of savoy cabbage, one medium carrot and two slices of (different) roasted squash. Oh and a generous lake of glossy and deeply flavoured gravy and some homemade mint sauce.
This really was a superb plate of food – one of the best roasts I’ve had for a long time. Very little I’d change – a touch less salt in the savoy cabbage and the carrot cooked more briefly to retain more bite and texture but those are minor niggles.
Pete was just as happy with his Organic Sussex chicken breast, confit leg croquette, roast shallots, thyme gravy (£16.50). On his plate the slightly oversalted cabbage was balanced out by the sweetness of the roasted shallots. The chicken was full of flavour and beautifully cooked and the two leg meat croquettes provided an extra texture and taste. Yorkshire pudding comes with all roasts here, so he didn’t miss out on that either. And the spuds and gravy were, like mine, excellent.
Being greedy bastards, and mostly because we’d spotted it when ordering our mains and couldn’t get it out of our minds, we ordered a Sticky toffee pudding, bourbon caramel, crème fraiche ice cream (£6) to share. This was bloody fantastic too! The pudding itself was moist and rich – featuring coca-cola soaked prunes we were told – and the caramel sauce providing a perfect balanced bitterness. We couldn’t detect the bourbon, nor much of a crème fraiche tang in the ice cream, but the dish was delicious as it was and we didn’t miss either.
The London pubs I’ve visited for a Sunday roast in the last year or two – and I mean the gastropub kind here, not your local Wetherspoon – price their roasts between £12 and £16, sometimes more. Taking that into account, I think the Hatchetts offering is well worth the extra two or three quid more and I’d absolutely recommend it.
At the moment the downstairs dining room lacks atmosphere – not enough locals have discovered just how good the food is. Sadly, it’s not a particularly attractive space either; very 1980s. A polished concrete floor and some fun wall art are the only concessions to the current decade. The more casual upstairs bar area is far more appealing, and benefits from natural light during the day too so I’d suggest asking for a table there instead if it’s not too busy.
If you are a fan of really excellent Sunday roasts, this is definitely one to add to your list.
Kavey Eats dined as guests of Hatchetts Restaurant.