Six Sunday roasts in London…
Fallow, St James’s
Jack Croft and Will Murray’s sustainable-focused restaurant makes for a lively, sophisticated Sunday lunch spot. There’s a buzz from groups catching up on tables beneath suspended planters of dried flowers, and chefs slicing, sizzling and charring ingredients in the large open kitchen. Tart Yorkshire rhubarb, sweet vanilla, tangy yogurt and gin combine in a perfect emulation of rhubarb and custard in cocktail form, while frozen margaritas make the perfect summer pairing to the iconic kombu-seasoned corn ribs or creamy caramelised cauliflower croquetas topped with crisp cauli leaves, English pecorino and black garlic mayo. Chefs butcher meat on site and use every cut available, so the Sunday roast offering rotates depending on what’s on offer that week; this might be pig’s head or slow-cooked venison shoulder, and there’s always perfectly pink dairy cow rump and fillet. All are served on a plate generously laden with golden roast potatoes, glazed carrots, red cabbage and seasonal greens, with a fluffy Yorkshire pudding to boot. Ingredients otherwise destined for waste are used to elevate the roast, with pickled beetroot offcuts taking new life in a purée for the venison while charred leek tops are blitzed into a mayo. This ethos continues through to desserts, which are worth squeezing in, with surplus whey transformed into the silkiest caramelised tart and homegrown golden ignoki mushrooms to top chocolate mousse and in a mushroom caramel. fallowrestaurant.com
“Roasts almost as good as your mum’s” is the modest tagline at contemporary chophouse Blacklock, where a starter of pig’s head on toast with gravy might be followed by 55-day-aged beef rump, Cornish leg of lamb or Middle White pork loin cooked over coals with sides of swede and lardo or charred winter greens and chestnuts. All roasts are served with yorkshire puddings, duck-fat roast potatoes, a selection of seasonal vegetables and Blacklock gravy. If there’s a group of you (eight to 10), order the ‘All In’ where everything’s piled onto a platter for the ultimate Sunday banquet. Either way, make sure you book well in advance as reservations for Sunday lunch tend to fill up two months beforehand.
Harwood Arms, Fulham
Harwood Arms head chef Sally Abé says it’s the attention to detail at every stage that makes the Sunday menu at this Michelin-starred pub so special. “We carefully source the best beef from Cumbria, we use the best [Agria] potatoes for the crispiest roasties, really flavoursome carrots and a rich red wine gravy. The portions are generous and served sharing-style for everyone to dig in, and the relaxed dining room makes guests feel at home, which adds to the enjoyment of it all.”
Unusual cuts can also turn up on the Sunday menu at the Harwood Arms so expect to see the likes of braised jowl of Tamworth pork with crushed turnip, roast apple and mustard, alongside the more traditional roast sirloin of 45-day-aged Shorthorn beef with yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese croquettes, horseradish cream, root vegetables, bone marrow gravy and greens.
The Camberwell Arms, Camberwell
A past winner of The Guardian’s 50 Best Sunday Lunches and the Observer Food Monthly Awards, Sunday lunch at The Camberwell Arms is a celebration of family-style eating with sharing main courses being the focal point. Everything is made in-house, including the hot mint sauce with the spring lamb, garlic-braised potatoes, peas and spring onions, and the béarnaise accompanying the dry-aged Hereford onglet, roast potatoes and watercress.
As befits a kitchen run by a team that can trace its roots back to influential gastropubs such as The Eagle in Farringdon and the Anchor & Hope in Waterloo, head chef Michael Davies always serves family-size sharing dishes, whether it’s slow-roast salt marsh lamb with dauphinoise potatoes large enough for five people, or a whole spit roast herb-fed chicken with roast potatoes, salad and wholegrain mayonnaise for four.
The Guinea Grill, Mayfair
“Sunday lunch is a different dining occasion to any other – it’s convivial and there is less pressure on time,” says charismatic landlord Oisín Rogers of The Guinea Grill in Mayfair’s upmarket Bruton Place. “It’s very easy to make a bad Sunday roast. It’s not that difficult to produce a good one but a brilliant one needs real skill and a huge amount of thought about how to deliver each component on time and in perfect condition.” This means “big and well seasoned” yorkshires served straight from the oven, potatoes seasoned with ground rosemary and thyme, and gravy made from the stock and roasting juices of the meat.
Must-order Sunday options include a chateaubriand for two with duck-fat roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding, honey-glazed carrots, baby parsnips and kale. “We are generous with gravy, roasties and veg. We don’t charge for seconds. Where people order steaks from the grill we serve it family-style, sliced for the table with all the Sunday trimmings. For the roast beef we use the rumps of the same brilliant grass-fed, dry-aged quarters that we use for our côte de boeuf, sirloin and T-bone. We sell racks of Welsh mountain lamb and free-range Blythburgh pork.” Although The Guinea Grill is best known for its meat, Oisín admits that “our chef Nathan’s walnut, truffle and blue cheese gratin has had us many high fives on Sundays”.
The Laundry, Brixton
Bottomless gravy, truffle-spiked cauliflower gratin, honey-mustard bread sauce – all these decadent details will become new favourites at this restored Edwardian bistro in the heart of Brixton.
Whet your whistle with the signature cocktail – a bracing cucumber margarita on the rocks – made for luscious pre-roast sipping out on the bistro’s Parisian-style terrace, fit with tartan blankets and heaters for chillier days.
Additions to the roast menu for the autumn/winter season – slow-reared spatchcock chicken for two, amped up with honey-mustard bread sauce, and a vegan leek and mushroom wellington – sit alongside Sunday mainstays: rolled roast pork belly with apple sauce, and 28-day aged roast Hereford sirloin with creamed horseradish and Yorkshire puds. The bountiful selection of trimmings – roast potatoes, seasonal squash, roast sweet potato, minted peas and bottomless gravy – are piled high on plates, straying from the carefully positioned approach you often find in restaurants in lieu of a relaxed, rustic feel.
Add-ons are enticing, and hard to refrain from, namely the aforementioned cauliflower cheese gratin – golden, crispy and pepped with heady truffle and sage. Owner Mel Brown fills wooden shelves with imported new- and old-world wines from independent brands, too. thelaundrybrixton.com
Best Sunday roasts across the UK…
Brassica, Beaminster, Dorset
Chef Cass Titcombe used to run London’s Canteen, an influential place famous for its roasts, and he continues this tradition at his Dorset restaurant. On Sundays, Cass serves a full à la carte menu alongside a roast option that alternates between sharing platters of local hogget, pork, Devon Ruby beef and occasionally venison, all with duck-fat-roasted potatoes and organic vegetables from a local farm. Kids can order half portions so the whole family can tuck in as they would at home.
The Pheasant, Shefford Woodlands, Berkshire
As befits a rural pub a gentle canter from Lambourn in the so-called ‘Valley of the Racehorse’, The Pheasant has a strong racing theme and is frequented by riders and trainers alike. With a pint of Pheasant Ale, grab a table by the log fire and tuck into venison shepherd’s pie with piped whipped mash, parsnips and honey-roasted carrots; or roast pork with super-crisp skin, yorkshire pud, roast potatoes and a side of creamy cauliflower cheese. Leave a hole for the melt-in-the-mouth sharing tarte tatin served hot from oven and accompanied by two bowls of ice cream.
Cook House, Newcastle
Since Anna Hedworth relocated the brilliant Cook House from its original shipping container to its much larger bricks-and-mortar venue, the extra space has allowed her to pull out all the stops for Sunday lunch. Creative dishes to be shared by the whole table include whole roast chicken stuffed with crème fraîche and lovage, or slow-roast lamb shoulder in a Moorish spice marinade. Rather than standard vegetable sides, Anna serves up salsa verde, giant couscous, pickled fennel and orange salad, aïoli and sweet cumin yogurt. Anna says: “I love seeing whole families sharing a chicken with someone standing up to carve.”
Asador 44, Cardiff
“The Spanish do family eating as well as any place on Earth, so we wanted to replicate that, with added Welsh warmth of hospitality and lots of wine,” says Owen Morgan, co-owner of Asador 44 in the heart of Cardiff. One of the Sunday highlights at this Spanish grill restaurant is the 60-day, dry-aged, coal-roast rump of Hereford beef with roast potatoes, manteca yorkshire pudding (made using the spiced fat from ibérico ham, smoked morcilla and pancetta), charred purple-sprouting broccoli, and rioja and bone marrow gravy.
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For the veggies, there’s grilled cauliflower, jerusalem artichoke purée, capers and raisins. Ribs of beef on the bone, whole suckling pigs and legs of milk-fed Castilian lamb are also available to share.
Bottomless jugs of thick, varnish-like bone marrow gravy, huge fluffy yorkies and a molassey sticky toffee pudding served with clotted cream – that’s what Sunday roast dreams are made of, and probably why this Scottish outpost serves up to 180 of them every week. Founders Will Beckett and Huw Gott say Sunday roasts are really about two things: memories and produce.
“We have so many memories of meals with people we love dating right back to our childhood, and Sunday roasts were always a special occasion at our homes. A really great roast needs really great produce and Scotland is probably the best place in the world for that. One of our happiest times was travelling around the country meeting passionate farmers and eating amazingly well – the Hawksmoor Edinburgh Sunday roast is the result!”
Also in London and Manchester.
The Woodsman, Stratford-upon-Avon
From the open kitchen in the centre of this hotel restaurant, Mike Robinson and his chefs serve traditional Sunday roasts such as wood-fired bantam chicken with lemon, garlic and glazed carrots, or dry-aged Hereford beef picanha (a rump cap) for two cooked over local charcoal. The menu also includes plenty of wild game from the Midlands and Cotswolds, including the signature dish of braised, glazed shoulder of wild Gloucestershire roe deer with ‘dirty mash’ (pomme mousseline made with 50% butter and cream, and 50% potato, with shredded deer shoulder, herbs, crispy crumbs, venison gravy and Wiltshire truffle) for two.
Mike says: “We focus on sharing dishes rather than a carvery-style lunch and this makes for precise and consistent cooking. Our in-house butchery means we use carcasses nose to tail, and our own deer larder in the Cotswolds means that all the venison served is harvested and prepared by us.”
The Star Inn, Harome, North Yorkshire
After cooking professionally for more than 30 years, Andrew Pern knows a thing or two about creating the perfect ambience for a proper Sunday lunch. A 14th-century pub-with-rooms in the chocolate box North Yorkshire Moors village of Harome, The Star focusses on using hyper-local produce, much of it grown in Andrew’s abundant kitchen garden.
“Sunday lunch at The Star has become very much a place to celebrate all things ‘family’,” says Andrew. “Having been voted Best Sunday Lunch in the World by Lonely Planet, we have a lot to live up to, but with our open fires, low beams, wonky walls and thatched roof, The Star certainly sets the scene.” Of course, the Michelin-starred food helps, too, and Sunday menus include local game when it’s in season and a Yorkshire Pudding Royale which is stuffed with black truffle shavings and foie gras, and served with aged madeira gravy.
Red Lion Freehouse, East Chisenbury, Wiltshire
A thatched pub tucked away in a remote part of Wiltshire, The Red Lion has been run by husband-and-wife chefs Guy and Brittany Manning for the past 11 years. The couple previously enjoyed a stellar career in the kitchens of notable restaurants both sides of the Atlantic – Guy worked at Chez Bruce in London and then at Thomas Keller’s three-Michelin-starred Per Se restaurant in New York, where he met pastry chef Brittany. Though it has its own Michelin star, the Red Lion is still very much a village pub where locals can pop in for a pint of Wiltshire-brewed beer from Three Daggers Brewery.
A full menu runs alongside the Sunday roasts so expect roast Cornish turbot sitting alongside rump of Wiltshire beef with roast potatoes cooked in roast chicken and beef fat, roast veal chop and truffled mash or, if you’re lucky, slow-cooked pork from the pub’s own Saddleback pigs.
Castle Farm, Midford, Bath
A converted barn on a farm a short drive from central Bath, Pravin and Leah Nayar have certainly created something special at Castle Farm. On Sunday, it’s all about sharing platters down the middle of long tables so you can taste all the meat (42-day-aged rump of beef from local farmer Robin Pitkin, whole Castlemead chicken and roasted loin of Berkshire pork) with vegetables from the garden outside and “perfect” golden roasties.
“You only have to look at his Instagram highlights to see he is literally obsessed about his roast potatoes,” says Leah of her husband’s meticulous attention to detail. Changing his potato of choice depending on the season, chef gives his spuds a long parboil, a proper drain and “a good shake so you get all the crispy bits”, before cooking in local Fussels rapeseed oil with herbs and garlic for the ultimate colour and texture. Leave room for classic desserts such as seasonal fruit crumble, and bread and butter pudding.
The White Horse, Haselbury Plucknett, Somerset
With dried hops dangling from the high ceiling beams, sumptuous leather armchairs and Instagram-friendly pooches stretched out in front of the fireplaces, this 17th-century inn is very much the hub of the tiny (population of around 750) Somerset village of Haselbury Plucknett every Sunday. The welcome from owner Rebecca Robinson is as warm as the two crackling fires in the bar, while chef husband Richard (formerly at London’s Orrery and Prism at Harvey Nichols) concentrates on roasts so impressive that the pub was runner-up in the 2018 Observer Food Monthly Awards for Best Sunday Lunch. As well as three roasts, the pub serves a Sunday sharing board, which can feature roast chicken, nine-hour slow-cooked pork belly and roast 40-day, dry-aged beef with yorkshires, duck-fat roast potatoes and BBQ seasonal veg.
Words by Mark Taylor and Alex Crossley
Photographs by Gareth Williams, Nigel John, Tim Martin, Owen Mathias, Jess Carter, David Griffen