I’ve found the best Sunday roast in London. It’s taken a while, and there’s been quite a few contenders ticking off my not inconsiderable list of requirements*, but we got there in the end.
For a while the Crown & Goose in Camden had the crown, thanks to their unrivalled trimmings, ramshackle cosiness (especially in winter), abundance of newspapers and opportunities for day-long languishing in the company of Bloody Mary. But then they cooked their goose by the simple fact that they chose Camden; nothing puts you off your half roast chicken like that scrubby punk that looks like an overgrown gremlin holding up signs for tattoo parlours by the station.
The Spaniards Inn took the trophy for a while, due to its history (Keats and Dick Turpin have propped up the bar), secluded spot at the end of a muddy walk across Hampstead Heath, roaring fires and the fact they do Fruli. But they keep changing their chef and ordering food is like loading a six-shooter with charcoal and playing russian rouette with your taste buds. (They seem to like swapping staff with Highgate’s Flask, another pub whose architectural charms are let down by its culinary unpredictability and inexcusable acts like serving carrots raw and unpeeled).
Hampstead’s Holly Bush does the best lamb shank I’ve ever had the good fortune to spend £18 on, but in the end it’s just a bit too small and historic – tables are harder to come by than a politician you want to vote for – and the owners flirt with the upper end of the acceptable gastropub pricing strategy, even for London.
So the best roast in all of London (as of 14th April) is Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green.
This place is impeccable. Let’s start with the potatoes. They’re better than your potatoes. They’re better than your mum’s and they snigger at the efforts of your nan. Seriously, forget any roastie pride, this place has them nailed. Forests of goose fat-crunchiness enveloping ethereal chunks of fluffy tattie. You could eat a plate of them. Sharing space with these divine creations, a half chicken or several doormats of fat-marbled prime beef depending on your preference, herby buttered chantenay carrots and the whole spectrum of green veg alongside some walloping big yorkshires. Gravy like it’s going out of style. And all this is presented by immaculate, attentive personnel to a vibrant clientele in rooms that look like the basement of Selfridges (vintage furniture, empty birdcages, thick curtains). If that sounds like a press release they’re welcome to it.
I only went once, and I hear it turns into a bit of a media den at night, but this experience was Paradie found. So go on then, hit me with your favourite roast in London…
*In this specific order:quality meat, crispy potatoes, good location, abundant trimmings, bafflingly long wine list, divine gravy, good service, better clientele, armchairs, newspapers, windows that let daylight stream in, spicy Bloody Marys…