Roast. Roast and more Roast. They’ve sure got the name right. If there was one word I would use to describe the type of cuisine on offer it would be ‘Roast’. It was a friend’s birthday last night and for a (yet another) special treat, we went to the restaurant above Borough Market in London Bridge, famous for its (you guessed it) roast meats and rich accompaniments. This is not one to visit
if you are trying to eat healthily or on a budget. It’s indulgence in all sorts of ways.
The restaurant is beautiful; it was stylishly lit and with a stunning semi-circular window (the retained portico of an old flower market); there was an open kitchen where you could see the kitchen staff plating up salads and sauces (my friend did ask if one of them was the headchef to which we all replied, no dear, he/she will be doing much more important things in the back); a vault for expensive wine and a swish shiny bar cutting off the casual area with a live piano from the bistro style restaurant.
The meat was delicious, especially the steak, which unsurprisingly enough was the most expensive thing on the menu. It was cooked medium and presented stylishly on a wooden board with a novelty miniature pan of peppercorn sauce. I didn’t order it so cannot give a full account. All I was allowed was a tiny slither. Look at the photo to the left though and you can make up your own mind. It looked pretty damn good to me. Instead I ordered the Beef Wellington and it was great, but didn’t leave me speechless. The meat was pink and soft and the sauce was rich and winey, but the pastry wasn’t crispy enough and the mushroom pate was a little overpowering. It was also meant to come with braised red cabbage which was another reason why I ordered it, but the restaurant had run out, very unimpressive considering the £28 price tag. I was offered root mash as an alternative which I accepted a bit grumpily only to find that the sidedish was left off our order when the rest of the food was bought out. The other side dishes were pleasing, especially the sprouts with bacon and stuffing, a true taste of Christmas. The wine was delicious, but it was £17 and all we got was a 500ml carafe. I would happily have paid that for a full bottle, but two-thirds? A bit much.
The waitress was friendly and did some good selling. She uptalked all of the specials and tried her very hardest to get us to buy doubles of everything. On both cases she didn’t persuade us: it was £9 per G&T. One was more than enough. Overall the service was a little slow. Our table was constantly being buzzed around by waiters, waitresses and bar men but for all the show of being busy, not a lot of waitering happened. For this sort of money I expected a quicker and more responsive service. Though they recovered some points when we told them it was one of our parties birthdays and a plate of ice cream with a candle, a homemade brandy snap and ‘happy birthday Kate’ written in chocolate sauce turned up.
Now to the entertainment. In the bar area was a singer with accompanying pianist. She played some great, cheesey tunes (a lot of Aleisha Keys, Mariah Carey) and had a fantastic voice but she was a little overwhelming. Everyone had a little giggle when she started the first chorus of Empire State of Mind and at ‘New York’ (not Newport..), a third of the restaurant (mostly those under 30) started to sing along. But the over-loud volume did get in the way of us having a deep and meaningful over dinner.
Overall, I had an ace experience and I went home very full and fairly satisfied. My final issue with Roast is that whilst stuffing myself with great produce I easily forgot where I was. I was sitting and eating above one of the most iconic food markets in the country. Why wasn’t I being reminded of it? It wasn’t mentioned in any of the menus, there were no pictures on the wall, it was a real undersell of the resources right on their doorstep. If it was my restaurant, I would have been buying the beef from the beef stall in the market, the wine from the wine stall in the market, the..you, get the picture. Maybe they did? They just didn’t bother to let the patrons know.