I remember the stir that Roast caused when it opened. For some it was around the beginning of the end – a.k.a. gentrification - of Borough Market. For others it was the question of why someone would go to a restaurant for a roast, rather then a pub. Finally, and on recollection most vociferously: is it possible for a restaurant to deliver top-notch roast potatoes to order?
Borough Market has definitely changed since the mid-noughties when Roast first opened. It’s now firmly on the Time Out/tourist route. And judging by the punters who flood the semi-pedestrianised streets at the merest hint of sunshine, it’s popular with Londoners, too. Also, having dined at Roast several times since its much-hyped opening, I can attest that not only does it produce better meat dishes then most, its roasties are good. Great, in fact.
However, my latest visit was for a meeting with the Comms Specialists, and we didn’t have to be asked twice when the offer of breakfast at Roast came.
For those readers who haven’t been before, the restaurant is based in the old Floral Hall in the market, and benefits considerably from the high arched windows and higher ceilings that gives it an airy, well lit feel while showing off the views – both inside and beyond the market. It's a buzzing place, from breakfast all the way until dinner, with a mostly suited-and-booted crowd. There's a lively, albeit small bar, too.
The general menu offers an array of roasts, game, and haute cuisine with imagination, making each dish so much more than just beef and two veg. On my last visit, I can safely say that my game suet pudding, complete with the odd slice of offal, was the nicest British dish I have ever tasted. Could breakfast measure up?
My colleague opted for the Full Borough which consists of smoked streaky bacon, Roast recipe sausages, fried bread, Ramsay of Carluke black pudding, grilled tomatoes, field mushrooms, bubble ‘n squeak, and your choice of egg. At £15, this is not cheap, but was worth every penny, according to my newly bloated acquaintance.
I went for the Eggs Royal with smoked trout x 2, which came in at £16. The fish was lightly smoked, so as not to overpower the wonderful trout flavours, and was nicely moist in texture. The sauce was plentiful and thick – just how I like it. Our Comms Specialist hosts opted for the more simple bacon butties, which they swore did their mental health the world of good (if not their physical). We washed it down with so much coffee and juice that we left Roast slightly light-headed, despite being full-bellied.
My colleague was so impressed with the visit that he’s insisting we hold our next team dinner there, which given the prices they charge, might be stretching our already challenged budget. With the high quality food, superb location and wonderful service, you sense that Roast will end up like as venerable and influential a place as Smith’s of Smithfield’s has been to that market. It's nice to see that it was worth the stir.
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