A bit of a hotch-potch at Roast
I have been to Roast once before, about 5 years ago. My memory of that visit is of excellent food and wine, so when a friend suggested a last minute lunch at Roast I was more than keen to return.
Saturday lunchtime in December is a busy time to fight your way through the masses at Borough Market to get to the entrance to Roast. There was a fairly lengthy queue at the cloakroom – this seemed due to a rather inefficient process of coat collection and accompaniment to table by a single staff member. Nevertheless, I was eventually taken to a table by the window where I could watch the comings and goings in the market while waiting for F to arrive. When eating at Roast you really should have at least one meat dish, and following that rule we quickly chose our main courses though dithered a little over starters.
Bread arrived on a board along with a beautifully wrapped pattie of butter (sadly a rather tasteless butter) and glasses were filled with tap water. We elected to order wines by the glass and both chose the Californian riesling to accompany our fish starters. The wine was golden in colour and, once it had warmed a little in the glass, rather nice. F started with the griddled Shetland Isles scallops, served with Jerusalem artichoke and hazelnuts – no complaints but possibly not as exciting as she was expecting. I had the baked Dorset crab with Berkswell cheese – and it was delicious. Much more spicy/peppery than I was expecting (and so not great with the riesling!), the crab was mixed with just the right amount of cheese. I savoured every mouthful.
On to mains, where F had the roast breast of Goosnargh chicken with creamed smoked garlic spinach and winter chanterelles, along with a glass of French grenache/syrah. Again, no complaints but no wows either. I had the grilled spatchcocked partridge with spinach, rosemary and pine butter (and obligatory shot in one leg!). Lots of flavour but a little dry, this did not hit the heights either. A glass of Chapel Down pinot noir was extremely disappointing. Possibly the best part of our main course was the side dish of mashed potatoes – a very good mash, second (or is that third) only to the dishes served at Les Deux Salons and Dinner.
For dessert we shared a Roast “Jammie Dodger” with England preserves raspberry jam. This was two pieces of shortbread with a filling of vanilla parfait (or vanilla ice cream in layman’s terms) with a splodge of raspberry jam and was really nice. I ordered a glass of pedro ximenez with this and it was a lighter PX than I am used to, more like a rich and sweet oloroso, but it went very well with the dessert. F had a glass of New Zealand noble riesling, which was equally enjoyable. Finally a cafetiere of fine coffee rounded off the rather hit and miss meal.
There were some good things at Roast. Our waiter was friendly and helpful, dishes arrived promptly. My starter and dessert were very enjoyable, but the meal didn’t get anywhere near my memory of a few years ago. We left the restaurant feeling that standards had dropped in recent times – a real shame as a restauant with such a prime spot over the foodie haven that is Borough Market should be a destination restaurant in every sense.