Food Blog | Cooking Blog
The, now iconic, Borough Market forms the south portico of Roast. In 2005, the restaurant was opened in the large Floral Hall that had previously been used for storage and ignored amidst the hustle bustle of the market. Now, you get a sense of the commotion from the double glazed glass box that hangs above the market, and the space is anything but ignored, constantly filled to capacity, with delicious food and unmissable cocktails and bringing the Floral Hall to life. Borough Market is an unmissable pilgrimage for food loving locals and tourists alike, people travel from far and wide whilst the residents of Southark stroll through its' stalls on a daily basis, feeling a sense of ownership, as it was the local residents who raised the money to save it from closure in the 1750's. So, looking over a gourmet wonderland, serving up unbeatable British roasts with every trimming imaginable, Roast really does give anyone looking for a quintessentially British culinary experience everything that they could hope for from a meal out. What is more, there are countless deals (two for one breakfasts on certain days, kids eating for free, 3 for 2 on weeknight cocktails and so on), daily specials and set menu for Sunday lunch with tonnes of options to choose from.
The drinks menu opens with a quote from Fleming's novel, Casino Royale: "I never have more than one drink before dinner, But I do like that drink to be large and strong and very well-made" - James Bond. In an iconically British fashion, this sums up the quality of cocktails that are produced by the well oiled machine that is the bar at Roast. The drinks are well sized, magnificently made and above all, bloody strong. The menu is terrifyingly expansive - the selection of seven types of Bloody Mary gives you some indication of the sophistication and variety of cocktails and liquors that are on offer (on my next visit, I will definitely be sampling all of them). Slightly bewildered, I followed our waiter's recommendation, and went for a Pornstar Martini - a blend of mango puree, passion fruit, vanilla vodka and vanilla syrup accompanied by a shot of Prosecco . The neat freak (my date for the evening), in a predictably boring manner, ordered a beer. A beer?! When there are so many magnificent and complicated cocktails on the menu?! Surely not. Then again, I am very much a non-drinking beer girl, so I really cannot empathise. The beer, the neat freak assured me, was absolutely delicious. My cocktail, on a more interesting note, was completely amazing, the sort of multidimensional drink that would take an amateur like me half an hour to replicate, and it would be nowhere near as good.
Fresh from the Isle of Mull, home to the British scallop hand-diving trade, the scallops were seared perfectly, crispy and golden on the top, light and bouncy everywhere else. They were not remotely rubbery, seared only to the point of warming, maintaining a buttery and delicate texture throughout. The sweet and subtly shell-fishy taste of the meat was brought out by the butter and parsley-chive garnishing, and the crunch of the toasted hazelnuts brought another level of sophistication to each mouthful. The cauliflower puree was equally infallible, providing the perfectly sweet, creamy sauce to go with the nuanced flavour combination of the scallop and its' perfectly chosen accoutrements. Three jumbo medallions of majesty served in gorgeous shells. Yes. Please.
Fortunately, I didn't have to be too envious of the neat freak's seared scallops, as I had an equally magnificent plate in front of me: a pan-fried Braddock White duck egg with Bath pig chorizo and baby squid. Where to begin? The mutually flattering relationship between squid and chorizo is well documented, but the addition of the duck egg brought a whole new dimension to the equation. Light sautéeing with spicy chorizo (naturally specked with fat) is a clever way to baste squid, keeping it moist and enabling it to retain its natural flavours. The paprika and red pepper spicing of the chorizo coated the squid so that each morsel packed a real punch, and it was able to hold its own amongst the other rich flavours on the plate. Far larger than your typical chicken egg, the duck egg was incredibly rich in colour as well as taste, and the yolk that extra bit more runny so that it made the perfect sauce to bind everything else together. Sprinkled with a flick of watercress and seasoned to perfection, a fabulous dish. We also shared a delicious gamekeeper's terrine with cumberland jam, which was chunky, rustic and smoky in taste. The neat freak, a fan of rural pursuits, particularly liked the note on the menu warning us that the terrine may contain shot...
For his main course, the neat opted for a chargrilled Aubrey's 28 day dry-aged rib eye steak (350 g) with chips and béarnaise sauce. He was silent for the majority of the time he spent eating it, which was not very long at all as when I looked up at him a few minutes into my own dish, his was all gone. The steak was served medium-rare, and the ageing process meant that the meat retained all of its natural juiciness and the fibres tore apart with ease. It was perfect: the meat was pink throughout and the surfaces punctuated with those gorgeous coal gridlines that characterise anything professionally chargrilled. The marbling of fat kept the entire cut moist, tender, and rich in natural flavour. I did not have the pleasure of tasting the béarnaise (the neat freak was too captivated in the experience to do much sharing) but I am assured it was "really really good" - what an eloquent food critic he is. The chips were also brilliant - hand cut, crispy and (as chips always are) - addictive. On the side, we shared a portion of honey glazed parsnips that were garnished with a delicious parsley butter. Parsnips are one of my faves, so much sweeter and richer than a potato and so much less heavy than any other root vegetable. Shrivelled, crispy, soft, stringy, sweet, ohh mama!
I went for the twice-cooked shoulder of Launceston lamb, served with rosemary-roasted root vegetables and "mum’s" mint relish. The meat itself was tender, juicy and packed with flavor. The thing I love about lamb is that it isn’t nearly as tough as beef, and the shoulder in particular is incredibly tender. It is best served pink and on the bone, as the meat itself is lean and so needs to retain the juiciness that comes from bone. Presented beautifully, the shoulder was perched on a bed of roasted root vegetables and doused in full-bodied deep red gravy. If I had known that it was going to be so large, I might have gone a little easier on ordering the side dishes. Nevertheless, true to my usual greedy form, I managed to make the extra room in my tummy for some incredibly crispy roast potatoes cooked in beef dripping. With a solid 3-4 mm of crispiness on the outside, the spuds were soft and fluffy on the inside and took on the rich, musky flavour of the beef dripping. Not that I would have been able to fit one in, but I am filled with regret about not ordering a Yorkshire pud (my all time favourite). Another excuse for me to go back...
Bramley apple and blackberry crumble with custard to share