We show up for supper at Roast one Wednesday night in August to find Borough Market a hive of activity. It’s buoying to see it as busy as ever despite the devastating attacks earlier in the summer – an event which food-loving Londoners will remember, but refuse to be deterred by.
The dining room at Roast overlooks Borough Market’s main strip of pubs, restaurants and bars that fill up once the market itself packs up, making it a great spot for people-watching. The restaurant is smart but with a relaxed atmosphere. The helpful staff take us through the menu, talking knowledgeably about the butchers and producers that supply their meat, and offer to recommend some wines. As the restaurant’s name suggests, it’s a menu of hearty meals. A roast dinner might not be top of your eating list on a balmy summer evening, but the restaurant is packed regardless.
Veggie options are few, but sound delicious – we’re tempted by both the charcoal souffle with oyster mushroom (starter) and the black truffle and buratta parcels with sage and pine nuts (main). Despite this being a meaty restaurant, satisfying vegetarians is clearly not an afterthought. We start with one of their classics – a chorizo Scotch egg with piccalilli – as well as scallops with fennel, gooseberry, sorrel and smoked almonds. The Scotch egg is delicious, the tang of the piccalilli cutting through the salty meatiness of the chorizo.
Though we toyed with the pork belly and flirted with the day’s special – a mixed grill of rare breeds – we end up opting for the beef Wellington and the braised ox cheek as our meaty mains. The Wellington is perfectly pink and the pastry crisp and perfect. The ox cheek falls apart at the touch of a fork, and comes with half a clove of roasted garlic perched atop it. Anything that is served with a large piece of roasted garlic is a winner in our book. On the side is a bowl of roast potatoes which are exactly the kind you dream of producing at home.
The wines chosen by the sommelier to go with these dishes were beautiful and perfectly paired. For our Scotch egg and scallops, we were served a dry, mineral-y Tokaj called ‘The Oddity’ which was complex and delicious. It must have been tricky to choose something that would work with both dishes, but he managed it. For the mains, we tried a Puglian red called Salice Salentino as well as a Malbec which is made especially for Roast by a producer they work closely with. It’s delicious, light and flavoursome.
We’re feeling pretty full by now, but the desserts look fantastic… and they are. Sticky date pudding with clotted cream and toffee sauce is everything you’ve ever dreamed of and more. The blueberry cheesecake with ginger stem shortbread is ‘deconstructed’ – very Jamie-Oliver-circa-2006 – but deliciously sweet and fruity. All the desserts on the list sit with a suggested sweet wine pairing – a nice touch for a special dinner.
Roast ticks so many important boxes: fantastic location, brilliant, attentive service, well-sourced produce and well-cooked, hearty, British dishes. It’s not the cheapest place to eat in the area, but it’s not the most expensive either, and it’s genuinely a lovely place to enjoy a meal.
We The Food Snobs x