The Floral Hall, Stoney St, Borough Market, London, SE1 1T
Visited 30 September 2022
This restaurant helped me decide to start this blog. After many terrible, mediocre, and okay meals and experiences, and very few great ones, roast was so exceptional that I felt my regular Google Maps review would not do it justice. I wish I had taken photos of the food, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
After a day of walking, sightseeing, and shopping during my long overdue return to England (28 years give or take a few), and getting back to my hotel room to find housekeeping scratched the lenses of my only pair of glasses, which I forgot when I left in the morning, I wanted a good meal. roast, was a five-minute walk from the hotel and had very good reviews and the menu had several choices that fit the bill. After a brisk walk, in the rain, and forgetting it was Friday night, I asked for a table of one, which without a reservation was almost a problem but they accommodated me and a few minutes later the very gracious young lady at reception took my coat and umbrella and I was sat at a table near the kitchen. Now I know many of you hate sitting near the kitchen, but I actually prefer it, especially when I can see all the action. I guess that is my inner cook shining through. I was quickly greeted by the manager who was gracious while I thanked him for finding a table for me. He asked for the initial drink order, which for me has very quickly become still water, especially when a bottle of wine is predetermined to be ordered.
Perusing the menu, without my glasses which thankfully was easier than expected as it was mostly in large enough print that I could make it all out as I read it; doing my best impersonation (well not really an impersonation) of a typical middle-aged gay man fighting to hold on to the last flickers of the flames of youth holding it arms length away; I decided on the Selection of Sourdough Bread with Barrel Aged Balsamic with Olive Oil, Sea Salted Butter, and Nocellara Olives (olives, yuck), and Sweetcorn Soup with Whipped Cream, Rapeseed Oil, and Chile Flakes; 48-day Dry Aged Roast Beef with Rosemary and Garlic Roast Potatoes, Buttered Greens, Roasted Carrots, Yorkshire Pudding, Gravy, and Creamed Horseradish and a lovely Chianti Classico Riserva Carpineto (no fava beans). After some help from the very efficient waiter clarifying some of the menu items due to the glasses situation, my order was placed and I started, what I realised recently I do frequently in restaurants, theatres, and other places where the architecture or the goings on within draws my interest and for lack of a better term "casing of the joint." Of course, my eye was drawn to the activities of the kitchen, watching orders being plated and finished by a polished expediting team, sending out plates piled with delectable foods that had my mouth watering. With each finished plate being slid to the server side I kept anticipating the first smell and taste of my first course.
The waft that carried the scent of the bread and its accouterments as it was set down on the table, made me ponder if I should have just made it a bread and wine meal. The sourdough bread was crusty and yeasty smelling with that great tang a true sourdough should have. The balsamic was thick and syrupy with that perfect balance between sharp and sweet accompanied by a very balanced olive oil; the combination of the two after a generous dip, complemented the simple yet complex flavor and texture of the sourdough, and then there was the butter. Now if there is any one food item that I can most definitely say makes anything better it is BUTTER! The generous pat of butter instantly had Mrs. Blandings explaining the color she wanted for the dining room running through my head, this was in those almost immortal words so matter of factly being spoken through Myrna Loy's almost too perfect lips the grocer's very best butter. A butter that was a beautiful shade of yellow and not just yellow a very gay yellow, bright and sunshiny. With butter of that color, you just cannot go wrong. The olives, well olives and I do not have a friendly relationship. At some point, I will post about my complete refusal to eat certain foods for probably crazy ridiculous reasons, but I am sorry there are just some things I will not ingest, olives being one of them. Thankfully, while trying to refrain from stuffing myself with bread, the soup came.
The Sweetcorn soup was releasing its intoxicating aromas of spices mixed with the distinct smell of the whipped cream and the slight scent of heat emanating from the chile flakes caused by the heat of the soup encouraging the flakes oil mixed with the rapeseed oil to slowly add its essence into what was probably one of the best corn-based dishes I have ever had. Having grown up in the Mid-Atlantic area of the Colonies, corn was a pretty regular staple in my life, and as I moved away from my Long Island roots, corn slowly was almost completely removed from my diet to the point of it has to sound, look or smell amazing for me to try it or it was a tortilla chip, etc. (I mean sometimes you just need some nachos or some corn tortilla tacos). This was certainly one of the times I was overjoyed to have listened to my brain when it put together the description with my idea of what this delectable corn-based surprise would taste like. It surpassed my imagination's taste buds and hopefully, the Chef sees this, I would love the recipe for this knockout, I have three regular luncheons/dinners that I do, where it would become an instant crowd pleaser. I could feel the "my eyes were bigger than my stomach" thought creeping up in the back of my mind, as I was waiting for what I can only describe as the piece de resistance.
You know, how sometimes a restaurant has a name that describes a signature menu item or items and then is terrible every time you order them after you give them a few tries hoping they were off nights? roast not only fully lives up to its name it gives new meaning to the word. My roast beef was everything and more, it was the traditional roast meal I had been craving since just after my first plate of fish and chips after dropping my luggage off at my hotel in Birmingham (the first stop of my trip). As I generally prefer my beef just past the medium point of doneness I asked if I could get my portion from closer to an end or to please further cook my portion to that point. My beautiful slices of roast beef were cooked to perfection and although I used the steak knife provided I most certainly did not need it as it was tender enough to be cut with a fork. Moist, flavorful, and tender a trifecta for a roast, something that roast nails while so many others fall short. The Yorkshire was almost as big as my head and crusty with an almost pudding-like texture inside, it was a classic as it should be nothing fancy just delicious. The potatoes, vegetables everything down to the creamy horseradish was, bite after bite scrumptious. This one meal that was in front of me satisfied every need that was associated with a traditional British roast dinner and then some. After ingesting the gastronomic delight that had occupied the plate, I was offered a menu to decide on dessert.
Dessert was tea, of course, with my new all-time favorite dessert Sticky Toffee Pudding. As I had more of this delectable purely British pudding (cake for those traitors that do not speak the King's) through this trip, I have to say this was my second favorite out of all of the instances of intoxicating myself with this sweet indulgence that is probably responsible for the five pounds I gained during this trip.
This had to be one of the best experiences I have had in an extremely long time at any rating-level restaurant. The staff was exceedingly gracious, and every aspect of my meal was perfection in technicolor. Service and good food all in one place are becoming more and more near impossible to find, but roast manages to provide both with ease and at a price point that to this colonist was extremely reasonable for what you get. I would have gladly paid triple my bill for the entire experience.