Places To Eat In London: Roast, Borough Market
I had been feeling that a Mummy Daughter London lunch trip was long overdue, so when Roast in Borough Market asked me along to sample their lunch menu I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity for a bit of a girls day trip with some good English ingredients and white tablecloth service. I’d been wanting to eat at Roast for ages, both because I’d heard really good things, and because I always see the diners up above me in the restaurant when I’m shopping and working on my column in the market below.
As I said, Roast is high up above Borough Market, so if you book (it got pretty busy at lunchtime, so I’d recommend it) as if it is possible to sit near the window. You’ll be afforded the most wonderful view over the main thoroughfare of the market where you can watch the ebb and flow of families, tourists and office workers arriving at the market for their lunchtime. From my seat, I could also watch my favourite duck confit sandwiches being made, and then vanish as lunch began and ended.
We were left to peruse the menu and wine list with a basket of the Bread Ahead bread baked at their bakery downstairs. I was in charge of the wine list, and I decided that such a very British establishment called for the best of English wines. A Kentish girl at heart I ordered us a carafe of Roast Bacchus Reserve 2013 from Chapel Down to share. Chapel Down Bacchus is one of my favourites; I like how you can really taste the grapes on the slightly sweet and fresh finish, and this was intensified in the reserve.
Mummy decided to order the £30 for 3 courses set lunch menu (fantastic value) and kicked things off with the Potted Salmon with Popcorn Capers. I kept on reaching across the table to steal bites of the salmon; it was rich, fishy and really clean in flavour. We both also liked how chunks of the salmon were kept pretty intact; most potted fish like this tends to stray a bit too much into pate territory. We were both excited by the capers; quickly fried but not at all oily. They made for crisp bites of flavour.
I decided to order à la carte, and when I see scallops on a menu I can’t help but order them. These were the hand dived variety from the Isle of Mull, served with creamy potato and garlic butter. I loved the presentation, the scallops were perfectly cooked (roe on, those of you who are into that) and the flavours really did work great together. I also loved the presentation. At £16.25 is is the most expensive starter on the menu, but any regular orderer of scallops will tell you that you get what you pay for; 4 massive, fat beauties, twice the size of most restaurant scallop varieties.
Mummy actually let me order for her, and when I saw the set lunch menu I just knew I had to order the her Dover Sole, cooled in lemon butter and topped off with fat capers; a favourite of both of ours. It had a delicious flavour and the fish practically melted in the mouth; the only non-complaint she had about it was that is was so perfectly cooked it fell apart when she tried to flip it to get to the underside.
Because it would have been just too easy to order another fish dish (the pair of us can be seafood fiends when dining together) I decided to opt for what I saw as a wild card from the menu; Pheasant Curry with Crispy Shallots and Yogurt. One thing I find about non-veggie curries is they can be a bit fatty, but this one was not at all. It was lovely and mild, and the sauce I mopped up with all the rice had a wonderful aromatic flavour. The pheasant fell off the bone and there was a good amount of it, and the crispy shallots added great texture. I loved the yogurt that was more of a raita with finely chopped cucumber, herbs and red onion. It would have been nice to see some different parts of the pheasant in the otherwise fantastic dish, however. Maybe some cubed breast, added last so it was still rare and tender?
We’d finished our white wine carafe (the perfect amount to share for two, sometimes a bottle between the two of us can seem a bit too much at lunchtime) so we decided to opt for some bubbles. The dessert menu (from the set menu and the main) does have 100ml wine and cocktail pairings for each of the desserts, but earlier on I’d spied Balfour Brut Rose (2010) from the Hush Heath Estate, again in Kent, very close to where both my parents grew up by the glass. I’d heard a lot about the award winning wine but never had the opportunity to try it by the glass. As first it was lovely and crisp, but once we started on our sweet deserts the wines own fruity sweetness started to come through, though still remaining dry. It really is the perfect dessert accompaniment, in my book, and a testament to really how good English/ Kentish wines can be.
Mummy had the best dessert, which I ended up being both very jealous, and stealing way more of then she was of my dessert. The Sea Buckthorn Berry Posset was beautiful presented, bursting with flavour from both the creamy posset and the jelly topping, and both rich and refreshing was unsurpassable.
I opted for the (also delicious, but very very rich) Chocolate Mousse Cake with Caramelised Orange and Cornish Clotted Cream. It was dense, delicious and from the chocolate cocoa to the slightly crisp base cake had so many wonderfully different textures throughout. However, while I did make it to the end of this massive slice, I’d recommend it either to share, or with a glass of the Balfour Brut Rose, as the combination was probably the only reason I did not have to bow out on a richness overload!
After lunch we headed back down into the market for strawberry and raspberry yogurts from Neal’s Yard Dairy, fat cinnamon sticks for the upcoming festive season from Spice Mountain, and some freshly prepared fat salmon fillets from my fishmongers Furness Fish to take home with us. Oh, and a dressed crab and a raspberry Bread Ahead doughnut for my Dad to compensate for not being invited out to lunch! It was really the perfect way to spend an extended lunchtime, and I’d really recommend combining a lunch in a window seat at Roast to a trip to the market. Usually when I’ve been invited to a restaurant for a complimentary meal if anything I try harder to find something wrong to mention in my review to make up for any in balance when they know I’m writing about them, but honestly from the service to the food to the atmosphere, Mummy and I could not find anything at fault except the butter, which I don’t eat but she did not enjoy with her bread. So there you go.