27 February 2009
As soon as I said 'Would you like to lunch at Roast on Monday?' Nina the Ballerina had her best sickie excuse in operation and her best frock out of the wardrobe. It was a good job one of us dressed for the occasion as my chinos looked pretty down-market amongst the business suits on display in Borough Market's top-notch eatery.
A smartly turned out team warmly welcomed us and one after the other took our coats, walked us down to a relay point in a smart bar area where yet another led us to a window table that was perfect for people watching in the market below, or of our fellow diners, who mostly looked like they were celebrating completed deals as this is not a place for a normal workaday lunch. Someone else brought menus and one more took our drink order.
My partner had her usual Sauvignon while I asked the Czech waiter to recommend a beer for me, thinking that being from that country he would know his ale. He did; he suggested a very English Samuel Smith lager, which was nicely refreshing.
I wanted to stick to what I would normally order but our waiter was so good at upselling the specials I threw caution to the wind and went with him. Okay, they were the most expensive but this is a place where you would go as a special treat, so…
My deep-fried scampi sounded humdrum but if it was the day's special it had to be something to shout about. It was.
The coating had enough crispness to add the required texture to the scampi without it loosening fillings, and gentle enough in taste not to detract.
A mild, home-made tartare sauce was the perfect accompanying dip.
She that should have been at work had Dorset Crab cake with squid and chilli jam. We swapped mouthfuls and I wish I had gone for that. The crab was excellent. A little overpriced in my eyes but maybe Keith Floyd had caught and dressed it.
Taking non-meat eaters to a place called Roast could be a big faux pas but there are just enough fish dishes to keep those fusspots happy.
The Slacker went for Market Fish stew with Pink Fir apple potatoes, which she said was Very Rich. So rich, in fact, she struggled to eat much of the superb mashed root vegetables or curly kale. And she did not touch the absolutely brilliant take-me-back-to-my-childhood roast potatoes because they were cooked in beef dripping. Oh joy! They were to die for and I could quite happily do that too.
I did not fare much better, battling a bulging belly and tightening belt to finish off a rare breed Oxford Sandy pork loin raised by award-winning Tom Anderson in North Yorkshire. They had furnished me with a steak knife but it could have been cut with a spoon it was so succulent. My belt comes off to you, Tom.
Being a savoury man myself this would be the point in time when I would call for the bill, but in the interests of good journalism and with News readers in mind, I had to go for the sweet trolley, and take my lunch partner along with me.
Now this is a slender girl who can go for days just sipping fresh juice and nibbling nuts - I've seen more meat on an X-ray - so when she bit the bullet and went for the Bramley apple and rhubarb crumble with custard I applauded her courage. She did not have to tell me how good it was, her face said it all. I tasted the custard. Divine might be a good word.
I went for the less suicidal shortbread with warm cranberries and Ovaltine ice cream. The sharp fruit balanced out the sweetness and complemented the Aresti Late Harvest Gewurztraminer wine that the Czech boy talked us into having with our desserts.
I then refused point blank to give in to any more tempting suggestions of cheese or even coffee. My partner did and a pot was fetched up. A large pot of Mexican Arabica. Too late. The caffeine had lost all its reviving powers on this hopeless case.
I dropped the ballerina off home as she obviously needed to lie down. As I write this on Monday evening she has yet to surface. I feel another sickie coming on.
Roast is expensive, and there is a discretionary service charge, but you get exactly what you pay for: fresh produce, the best produce, and cooked perfectly. Boasting fresh and seasonal, Roast certainly delivers on that area of culinary requirements.
For a special occasion meat treat this is the best local place to go. I'm saving up now.
RAILTON ROAD SE24,
Leasehold, For Sale
TEA TRADE WHARF SE1, £1,295,000 , For Sale
TOWER BRIDGE WHARF E1W, £550 , per week, For Sale
PROVIDENCE SQUARE SE1, £1,600,000 , For Sale