I’ve been slightly annoying (or maybe just seeming weird to) Rachael by repeatedly remarking that ‘that’s been cooked sous vide‘. Boy, can you make a great roast by cooking the beef sous vide! Additional confirmation comes in the form of an assurance that the beef has been cooking ‘overnight’, and therefore will come rare, or medium rare, as the chef provides it.
“[T]here are other elements to a good Sunday Roast”
But there are other elements to a good Sunday Roast. A perfect yorkshire pudding – yes, that huge mushroom above is an enormous, delicious baked batter – is definitely necessary in my book. All the better when there’s an additional jug of gravy to pour into it. A perfect (sous vide) carrot is a delicious, though slightly embarrassingly singular, vegetable. It is slightly made up for with a carrot purée. Spinach increases the five a day quotient, in a way that the single leaf of onion (though delicious) does not.
But this Sunday Roast is all about being a cut above. The bone is presented with rosemary literally aflame in the marrow, which is oozing and naughty and fatty and slimy and gorgeous.Every part of the dish is spot-on, and a cut-above, and whilst this isn’t going to replace your regular Sunday lunch affair, it is certainly the sort of ‘aspirational’ benchmark that you’re not going to achieve at home, but is good to have in the back of your mind.
I haven’t properly addressed the beef. Perfectly rare and tender. The offer of a grating of horseradish atop the cut was gratefully encouraged by all. A crust was caramelised and lightly crunchy but miles away from tough.
Add a spectacular couple of starters, and you get a meal that was only marginally let down with relatively mediocre desserts. I’m glad I’m moving away from this place, as I could have gained an expensive habit!
Pie and mash is something of an East End institution. Like jellied eels, this is simple fare that you’d expect to be served to market stallholders for a tasty hot lunch. It’s one of those dishes that has been given a ‘gourmet makeover’ – and clearly the more irony that can be squeezed out of cooking well something that is traditionally as far from foodie-heaven the better for such makeovers.
“No, I’m not saying it’s Fray Bentos, heated in a greasy spoon’s microwave”
The problem I have with Square Pie’s pie and mash isn’t so much that it isn’t good – it’s a perfectly palatable and enjoyable lunch – it’s just that it isn’t really so much better than any other pie I’ve eaten. What’s great about a proper English pie (and yes, I’m a purist who believes there simply has to be pastry all the way round, not simply on top, and woe-betide those who cook some puff pastry separately and then plonk a miserable rectangle onto some stew) is that it’s warming comfort food. Made from straightforward ingredients, that have frequently come from the cheaper end of the spectrum (or the cow!) – hint: kidneys don’t feature solely for their taste – pie offer hearty food without too much mucking about. I’m not advocating that Square Pie should muck about more – there are many other places with frankly over-thought-out fillings – but just that if they’re not going to, it’s hard to detect that gourmet flair.
So this is a (good) standard pie with, yes, above-average mash and a healthy slosh of gravy. I’d happily eat it again, but I reckon I could do so in a variety of venues. No, I’m not saying it’s Fray Bentos, heated in a greasy spoon’s microwave, but I hope I’d never find myself quite that desperate (or unable to eat a Full English!).
They certainly have the decor in Poppies. Presumably, when this place opened its location, just off Commercial Road, placed it firmly in the heart of run-down East London. It has kept its heritage, with photos and Cockney Rhyming Slang expressions around the all (perhaps trying a bit hard).
“I was surprised it had been selected”
The fish and chips – good sized portions; I was surprised given complaints online – was fresh, a little expensive, and probably along the best I’ve eaten in London. Share the mushy peas between two! Among, however, is right, I reckon, and to be honest I was surprised it had been selected as one of London’s best dishes. The decor and staff might make it one of the best meals / locations for a quick bite out, but the dish was not anything amazingly special. The Sea Shell in Lisson Grove, or even Fish Club would give the food a run for its money.