While it might be our national dish, the roast dinner is notoriously tricky to get right. For a start, everyone knows that Mum’s make the roast, and each family has its own particular foibles and quirks. When I was growing up Sunday dinner (served at 6 o’clock) always came with cauliflower cheese and roast parsnips, and yorkies (my Dad made the best), were only ever served with beef. The Ewing’s Mum served both mash and roasties with the meat - a double carb concept I still struggle to get my head around.
Anyway, as it was mid-September and we were eagerly anticipating a change in the weather – before, of course, we knew a freak heatwave was bringing the hottest temperatures of the year - the Ewing managed to grab the very last table. This was a victory I feared would be pyrrhic when we saw the weather forecast and began to question the wisdom of sitting in a dark basement eating platters of red meat and potatoes swamped in rich gravy.
I may as well spoil the surprise by saying now, even if the only remaining table was in Hades and I had to cross the River Styx to get to that first bloody mary, I would make the same choice again every time. As it was, we were shown to one of the best tables in the house - positioned below the skylights in the pavement - although anywhere seemed like a good table when we saw the hordes of people that had already been turned away by five past twelve.
The heat did result in one concession, swapping a bloody mary for a gin and juice as I was craving something more refreshing - which also, I convinced myself, came under the vague guise of healthiness (yes, somebody went off piste, this was not what we agreed before hand - TE). The Ewing’s BM was exemplary, but an abundance of the most pleasingly shaped ice cubes in the glass left her wanting a bit more of the beefy (a preface of things to come) beverage.
You can order spit shanks of bone marrow covered in a snow of freshly grated horseradish, or giant wood-grilled scallops with bacon and peas – as the guys on the table next to us did, to our jealous looks – but we went straight for the ‘all in’, a platter piled up with all three roast meats, gravy and all the trimmings (something we had agreed a week before our visit after studying the menu together - TE). As it’s hard to break a habit, I also chose the cauli cheese, more for nostalgia’s sake as even I wasn’t worrying that we wouldn’t have enough food to keep us going.
This was a roast any mother would have been proud of, in fact, it was almost equal to my own mothers, right down to the cubes of not-quite-crackled crackling (one thing she was never very good at), which were completely delicious nevertheless. There was even a random pork rib on top of our mountain of food, which reminded me of being allowed to gnaw at the bones in the kitchen as a treat if I helped carve the meat.
The pork looked a little pallid against the blush red meat, but was deceptively juicy and made a fine start to the meal (I usually follow the ‘best til last’ method, while the Ewing goes in head first - (in case I die in the process, fancy dying before you ate your favourite thing - TE)). Round two saw the lamb, both our favourite of all the meats, with a transcendental dish of cauliflower cheese, with a four cheese sauce, and a rainbow display of carrots. Finally I moved on to the roast beef, which was good but not quite as good as the lamb, which I ate with a very fine Yorkshire pudding, perfect green beans and a lick of good horseradish sauce.
While I’m probably the only person in the world who isn’t really bothered about roasties, these were very good - although with the vast amounts I had already eaten it meant I still lived up to my nick name of ‘Amy One Potato’, which, as you can see above, did make me feel rather sad.
Stealthily (or probably when I was probably messing around with filters on Instagram), the Ewing managed her trio of spuds plus my remaining pair, meaning we only ended up leaving the gnawed rib bone. Believe me, I did try to eat that too.
One thing neither of us wanted to do without was pudding, here you get one choice, white chocolate cheesecake with seasonal fruit, which made ordering easy. Served up at the table from a large earthenware dish, this was a wonderful cheesecake that had possibly the most rustic buttery biscuit base I have encountered - you can see the errant rubbly chunks that sprinkled over the top. The accompanying berries were both sweet and tart and I particularly enjoyed that they were served in a Shippam's potted meat dish.
Clearly, we were both in love; with the food, our waiter - who had the Ewing in stitches while dishing out our desert (oh the staff were dreamy, such good fun - TE) - and the fact they bought toothpicks, for our chops, with the the bill - which, at £80 including tip, was not too considerable at all for all the food and drink we had consumed.
Still there's always room for a little more... and it’s at this point I would like to apologise to my wife, for a whole litany of misdemeanours, but on this occasion for making her, after our gluttonous display, walk around the corner to Gelupo in an attempt to fulfil my ice cream-in-every-blog-post-during-the-summer.
Not only that, I also made her eat our double scoop of bonet - with chocolate and caramel - and ricotta and sour cherry pretty much single-handedly, only stepping in to help her finish the last mouthful of cone. From the couple of licks I had, the ice cream remains peerless as ever. One of the only things that my mother (whose best attempts at pudding when I was growing up mostly stretched to ‘yogurt or fruit’) can’t quite yet compete with. Still, she does buy me tubs of ‘Oh My Apple Pie’ Ben and Jerry's when I visit, which is quite alright with me.