The Floral Hall,
London SE1 1TL .
Tel: 020 7940 1300
Food type: British
Food rating: 4/10
Nearest tube: London Bridge
It’s amazing isn’t it? I have been studying at Guy’s Campus located at London Bridge for the past 6 years of my life (and wonderful years too) and yet for half that duration I was oblivious to the fact that Borough Market was literally a stone’s throw away. Borough Market is as much a ‘farmer’s’ market as it is a tourist attraction. It does stock produce from some of the finest suppliers in and around the country. When I did find out about Borough market, I never failed to sneak there to grab my lunch on Fridays. One of the shops that I enjoyed going to pick a bap from was Roast! to go who do some pretty good Roast Pork with crackling and apple sauce sandwich. It did intrigue me to find out (again after some googling) to find out that there was actually a restaurant situated above. Aren’t you glad the NHS is pumping out observant student doctors like me?
My decision to visit Roast was actually an impromptu one. I was out and abouts in central London and wanted to try out Giaconda Dining Room at Tottenham Court Road. However the restaurant was fully booked when I called and instead I trundled back to Guy’s at 5pm hungry (I had not had any lunch for want of laziness that day) and in need of a restaurant. Anyways, long story cut short, I managed to get a table at Roast whom started dinner service at 530pm.
Roast, as mentioned, is situated on top of Borough Market. The restaurant can be accessed via a lift or a set of stairs (yes fat boy… it’s time to do some exercise before your meal). There is a bar area with a view of the open plan kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work and the day’s meat turning around on the spit roast. The dining area itself is designed to allow maximum light entry via glass panel windows. Indeed, this could be a problem during the summer months with ample sunshine flooding the area leading to a free sauna whilst you have your meal. On the other hand, it did provide us a lovely view of St. Paul’s Cathedral as well as the railway.
Having arrived at 530 and feeling rather peckish, we were told by the waitress that we had to wait at the bar area as our table was not quite ready yet. This was rather a devious ploy for us to have a drink at the bar. It was not until 6pm that we were finally seated at our table and then told that they would need the table back in two hours time. While I have my own personal views on this whole ‘two hour table turn-over’ issue, they could have informed me about this while I was making my booking. We were given an assortment of sliced bread (made by Flour Power in Borough market) to munch on while we waited for our meal. The bread was of decent (4/10).
Pan Fried Chicken Livers with Smoked Bacon and Toast
I kicked off dinner with a starter of Pan Fried Chicken Livers with Smoked Bacon and Toast after (conveniently) being told as I made my order that my initial choice of Celeriac and Ham Tart was not available. Again, this is something sloppy which should not have happened if the waitress serving us had informed us right at the start while handing out the menus. Grumbles aside, the plump chicken livers were nicely cooked – slightly pink in the middle and maintaining good texture to it. This was complemented with the smoked bacon and some rich gravy. The toast bread was on the hard side and could have done with a bit of gravy to moisten it. It has to be pointed out that although this dish was pleasant enough, this is still rather basic cooking which could have been done at home. (4/10)
Peppered Gressingham Duck Salad with Blackberries and Soured Cream
J’s starter of Peppered Gressingham Duck Salad with Blackberries and Soured Cream was in my opinion less well composed. For starters, the seared duck breast did not have the necessary fat or richness to compete with the acidic components component. As the duck was served cold, this is always going to result in a more subtle flavour to the duck. The addition of the soured cream drowned out the flavour of the duck with only the black pepper coming through. (1/10)
Roast Grouse with Pickled Damsons & Bread Sauce
My main course of Roast Grouse with Pickled Damsons was served with Bread Sauce. However there was very little actual effort put into the dish. For one, I am highly suspect that the grouse (complete with the slab of bacon) served to me was obtained from the Ginger Pig and bunged into the oven. If this is the case, this is blatant laziness (irrespective of the pickled damsons and bread sauce) and totally unforgivable. The grouse was correctly cooked but could have done with a touch more seasoning. The pickled damsons were actually quite enjoyable with a good balance of sweet and sour while the bread sauce was pretty forgettable. (2/10)
Dorset Red Mullet with White Carrots, Duke of York Crisps and Anchovy Sauce
J’s mains of Dorset Red Mullet with White Carrots, Duke of York Crisps and Anchovy Sauce was a better choice. The red mullet was correctly cooked and its strong flavours paired well with the anchovy sauce. The potato crisps were pleasant although it was sloppy to serve a slightly burnt one. (4/10)
Roast Potatoes in Beef Dripping; Runner Beans with Mint
We also got some side orders in the form of Roast potatoes in beef dripping and Runner beans with mint. The roast potatoes were a huge disappointment – it was severely under seasoned and did not have the crispy exterior one would expect. (1/10) The runner beans were also overcooked and lost quite a bit of texture. (2/10)
To finish I went for a Cheese Platter with a selection of Cheeses sourced from Neal’s Yard Diary. The cheese was served with grapes, crackers and a fig confit. Unfortunately I am unable to name the cheeses served to me as well… no one took the time to explain it to me. Overall, the cheese was passable but lacked a significant ‘oomphf’ in the form of a strong cheese like a stilton. (4/10)
Bramley Apple and Blackberry Crumble with Custard
I did not try J’s Bramley Apple and Blackberry Crumble with Custard.
I felt that dinner at Roast did not offer significant value for the prices they were charging. For example, £25 for what is essentially reheating (OK, I may be exaggerating there) of the grouse and minimal cooking effort just does not scream out value. Additionally, at times the food was rather sloppy. Case in point, serving a burnt piece of burnt potato crisp, the skin of the fish was not properly trimmed resulting in it curling up and under seasoning of food. Service could have also done with a bit more love and attention. Our wine was never topped up once and they were too eager to have us vacate our table within the 2 hour duration so much so they brought our tea/coffee at the same time as our desserts (this despite the fact that the restaurant was half empty when we left).