London’s Best Sunday Roasts
Just Opened London’s ‘Best of’ series covers a combination of recently opened venues and established London favourites, to make sure you get the full lowdown on where to spend your time and hard-earned cash.
A restaurant Sunday roast can go one of two ways: it’s either a massive, comforting, belly-filling triumph or a bitterly disappointing stodgy waste of calories which leaves you wishing you’d just ordered the burger instead.
To be successful, a good Sunday lunch must have really, really decent meat – be it beef, lamb, pork, chicken or even goat, duck or game – plus some well executed carbohydrate, preferably either in a crispy but fluffy roastie or a meltingly soft dauphinoise and finished with some well thought out sides and sauces. Not much to ask, but so many places get it wrong even though everyone’s mum can manage perfectly well.
These are the twelve we think are worthy of leaving the house for…
12. Mr Fogg’s Tavern
The wonderfully eccentric Mr Fogg’s Tavern in Covent Garden offers a choice of three traditional roasts to choose from alongside one hour and 31 minutes of free-flowing gravy (their gravy’s kind of a big deal) and endless punch. The cocktail guys know what they’re doing here, so personally we’d make the journey into town for that alone and we would definitely be ordering the One Punchy G&T (Tanqueray, homemade lavender syrup, fresh lemon juice, grapefruit tonic and sparkling wine) to go with the Dingly Dell Pork Belly with crackling and baked apple. Or perhaps you’d rather the Dedham Vale Rib of Beef with horseradish cream, or the roast baby chicken in wine and herbs?
Anyway, all are served with rather good Yorkshire puddings, beef dripping roasties, roast veg, greens and an extra-large portion of Victoriana. Bunting, knick knacks, taxidermy and extra roast potatoes for £2; Phileas has got it all.
Mr Fogg’s Tavern, 58 St Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4EA
11. Charlotte’s Bistro
Over in West London, you’ll find Charlotte’s Bistro, the newest restaurant from the Charlotte’s group, incorporating Charlotte’s W5 and the original Charlotte’s Place. This Chiswick incarnation is a light and bright welcoming little bistro that has become a real neighbourhood favourite. No wonder, when they place such an emphasis on hand making everything in-house – from bread, ice cream and crackers right down to the carefully thought out infusions and purees on the bar.
Their Monday through Sunday offering means that you can dine on heavenly braised and roasted lamb breast with Hispi cabbage, anchovies and olive oil mash and then a dark chocolate mousse with banana ice cream for the fairly bargainous price of £28.50 for two courses and there’s plenty more where that came from. We also love the sound of the mackerel tartare starter with oyster mayo and seaweed cracker and think it would do well followed by a corn fed chicken breast with gnocchi, broad beans and morels (everything is seasonal, of course). Beef lovers rest assured there’s a bavette or sirloin to be had with every trimming you could desire.
Charlotte’s Bistro, 6 Turnham Green Terrace, W4 1QP
10. The Clarence
Back in central London, and a mere stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square, is The Clarence. Apparently, it was once Winston Churchill’s preferred boozer of choice, and there are certainly enough of his learned friends still popping in for a pint and a pie. Don’t let the location put you off though, as here is one of those rare things: a central London pub smack bang in the middle of a well-traced tourist route, serving properly decent food at a non-rip-off price. We know. Their Sunday menu impressed us and involves an actual roast trolley.
The Clarence, 53 Whitehall, SW1A 2HP
9. The Pig and Butcher
This rustic Islington pub built in the 1800’s does a really tremendous Sunday roast (as does their sister pub further east, The Princess of Shoreditch). You’ll definitely need to book, as most of Angel appears to expect to eat their Sunday lunch at the Pig and Butcher, such is the quality of the rare breed meat (White Park cattle, Iron Age pigs and Hebridean lamb), not to mention the perfect Yorkshire (served with all roasts), potatoes and – our personal favourite side – creamed leeks.
The beautiful lamb and dry aged Hereford sirloin are served rare as standard, but surely it would be criminal to request it cooked any other way. If you’re more of a well-done person then a) why bother and b) just get the chicken crown with lemon thyme butter or the slow cooked pulled pork shoulder instead. PS. you’ll need to get The Board to share first too – decent scotch egg, sausage roll, venison croquette, Cornish pollock fishcake and more.
The Pig and Butcher, 80 Liverpool Road, N1 0QD
For many, this carnivore’s paradise offers the best Sunday roast to be had in London (the OFM have thought so a few times). It’s true, the slow cooked 55 days native breed rump steak served with giant Yorkshire, duck fat roast potatoes, veg and bone marrow onion gravy is indeed a thing of beauty, but look, we’re being picky here – it’s our job. The meat is stand-out: deeply flavoursome, expertly treated and just unbelievably tasty and the gravy is genuinely fantastic but last time we went the potatoes – whisper it – were just not up to scratch.
At £20 the Sunday lunch is fairly good value, but believe us that the bill quickly racks up if you start ordering those starters, sides, cocktails and the rest of it. Still a must-try for the meat alone, and we just love the art deco splendour of the Air Street branch for a spot of glamorous lunching. Air Street, Knightsbridge and Seven Dials all offer the Sunday menu but get there before 4pm.
Hawksmoor, various locations, see website for details
7. The Bull and Last
Another one blessed with a fair few best Sunday lunch accolades, this Hampstead Heath-side traditional pub is a close personal favourite. The food is never anything short of exceptional and the atmosphere is exactly what we’re after for a Sunday lunch: laid back, just the right side of noisy and with plenty of dogs to coo over. The Sunday roast is hugely popular, so you will absolutely have to book or chance it for a seat at the bar and once there we strongly suggest you order the beef – a North Essex shorthorn sirloin that has been cooked to tender, juicy, pink perfection. The accompanying Yorkshire pudding is the size of your head and all the other trimmings are spot on.
There’s also a chargrilled lamb rump with slow cooked belly on at the moment, which sounds like strong competition for the beef. Puddings are also excellent and if you’ve room then the sticky toffee pudding, served with banana ice cream and pistachios, is a delight.
The Bull and Last, 168 Highgate Road, NW5 1QS
6. The Drapers Arms
Were N1 house prices not quite so prohibitive, we’d fully consider moving to Islington just to have The Drapers Arms on our well-to-do doorstep. Ever popular, thanks to its seasonally reflective and well-sourced menu served all week long, this neighbourhood pub and dining room really comes into its own on a Sunday afternoon.
Gather yourselves a group together and head down to share a whole roast chicken with bread sauce, huge slow cooked shoulder of lamb or the roast forerib of beef and Yorkshire pudding – all come with carrots, green, roasties and gravy and they’re all fabulous. If your heart is set on a sharing roast, be sure to call ahead so they’ll save you one. There’s a garden too; bonus.
The Drapers Arms, 44 Barnsbury Street N1 1ER
A surprise entry from the trendy taco and mezcal purveyors, but come Sunday, chef/owner and all round barbecue expert Neil Rankin puts his meaty knowledge to good use by serving up roast leg of beef, shoulder of lamb or porchetta stuffed with rhubarb, fennel and sage with some of the most greed-inducing sides around: beef fat roast potatoes, shallots, lamb fat minted peas, carrots, fennel, Yorkshire puddings and – wait for it – beef fat cauliflower cheese.
If that’s not enough for you, then there’s always the option to order entire animals or larger cuts up for smoking: we’re severely tempted by the whole Gressingham duck and the grilled Gloucester Old Spot pork rib eye and they’re good value too, generally working out around £25-30 per head. Just thinking about it gives us the meat sweats (in a good way). There’s also bottomless gravy and some serious cocktails to be had.
Temper, 25 Broadwick Street W1F 0DF
4. Anchor & Hope
One of the original London gastropubs (a word not to be bandied about), the Anchor & Hope still commands long waiting lists – it’s no-bookings – years later. The ingredients and cooking are British, with a leaning towards the nose-to-tail approach, inventive and truly excellent.
Expect to wait at any time of the week, but of course, Sundays are particularly high demand. We’d start with the duck hearts on toast and then wolf down a seven hour Swaledale lamb neck (nice to see this cut being used) with tomato and fennel seeds and gratin dauphinoise, sharing begrudgingly. At £33.60 for the sharing lamb, we’d say that’s more than fair. Puddings are classic, like the cherry and almond tart with clotted cream or the crème caramel. The Anchor & Hope has definitely still got it.
The Anchor & Hope, 36 The Cut, SE1 8LP
3. The Camberwell Arms
Spawned from the same family as the aforementioned Anchor & Hope, this South London foodie destination has legions of loyal fans who can’t get enough of its global-inspired daily changing menus. Don’t come expecting a traditional Sunday roast; here you might find pies, large cuts of meat or whole roasted chickens ready to be taken to the table for self-carving, but they’ll be served with giant platters of something altogether more exciting than your run-of-the-mill Yorkshire pudding – perhaps with roast potatoes, watercress and aioli or swiss chard and a Jerusalem artichoke gratin, for example.
Vegetarians are treated well, with ever more inventive ways of serving up greenery appearing throughout the menu, and everything is achingly seasonal. Go, if you can get a table. There is, thank the Lord, a well-functioning bookings system at least.
The Camberwell Arms, 65 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR
2. The Jugged Hare
Weekend lunch pickings can be slim in the City, with so many of the usual go-to places shutting down until the work week re-commences, but if you find yourself near to The Jugged Hare then you’re in luck. Close to Barbican, this trussed up pub is from the almost-always-excellent ETM group (The Botanist, The Hat & Tun, The White Swan and more) so you’re in safe hands. The Jugged Hare is – shocker – known for its game and offers whatever happens to be in season, as well as the dish of its namesake, hare, gently stewed in its own blood.
More importantly, their Sunday roast game is strong with a whole suckling pig for four straight off the spit and served with greens, heritage potatoes and gravy, plus regular ‘spit specials’. We also love the fact they are doing a braised oxtail for two with bone marrow mash (yes please), garlic kale and the braising juices. We’ll also take a side of the Herefordshire snails in garlic and parsley once we’ve finished munching on the crispy pigs ears snack and the braised trotter starter. Perhaps not so much for veggies, this one.
The Jugged Hare, 49 Chiswell Street, EC1Y 4SA
Can we all agree that Blacklock has secured itself a comfortable spot in first place for the best Sunday roast in London, nay, the whole country? Following the out and out success of its chops, chops and more chops during the week (go on Monday when they’re at butchers’ prices) Blacklock turned their hand to an almost-traditional Sunday lunch, and goodness, what a lunch it is.
We can’t really call it a traditional Sunday roast, as while the joints of meat are those you’d expect (55 days aged rump, Cornish lamb leg, Middlewhite pork loin) the difference is that they are hung whole over the smoking coals and English oak chips of the grill, allowing the meat juices to drip down and infuse the meat further with the resulting smoke. The finished article is impossibly juicy, still-pink meat with the added bonus of barbecue flavour; then it’s all served up with giant Yorkshires, duck fat roast potatoes, veggies and a bone marrow gravy. There are all sorts of extra sides and sauces should you wish, but if you’re going all in – and you must – then we doubt you’ll have room. A superlative Sunday roast and don’t even get us started on the fab drinks list.
Blacklock, 24 Great Windmill Street, W1D 7LG and 13 Philpot Lane, EC3M 8AA