I love a Sunday roast, who doesn’t? Growing up my mum used to cook one every Sunday, and if she varied even slightly from the traditional components, my Grandma would purse her lips, say “interesting Gillian” and my mum would never serve it like that again. I like to think I cook a pretty good roast chicken – lots of lemon, garlic and onions – but a good roast beef is all about exact timings, and that has never been my forte in the kitchen. So since moving to London I have been on a one woman quest to find the best roast beef in the city. I have been to a number of places, and will continue to do so (and now blog about them here) but I have yet to find one which beats The Bull and Last’s on Highgate Road (to be fair The Chamberlayne’s beef is on a par, but their trimmings don’t quite cut the horseradish). Just off the Heath it is the perfect addition to a relaxing Sunday afternoon.
The pub itself is traditional old man-y, but the clientele is anything but. The only drawback is that you have to book well in advance to secure a table or chance it a little later (after 3pm) to get a seat at the bar, which is what my gentleman friend and I did today. We were lucky in that after two minutes at the bar we were kindly offered a table to ourselves in the corner. I think it had been reserved but the diners were a no show (idiots). We ordered two pints of cider and two roast beefs. Simples.
The main reason why I like The Bull and Last so much is that they pay as much attention to the trimmings as they do to the beef. Don’t get me wrong, the beef is A grade quality and beautifully cooked – still pink and juicy in the middle, and melt-in-the-mouth tender – but I think a roast is about more than just the meat. The potatoes were crisp on the outside, fluffy in the middle, the Yorkshire pudding was puffed up and crunchy, the vegetables (tender stemmed broccoli, roasted parsnips and carrots and onions) were lightly cooked, the gravy was thick and flavourful and the horseradish had a good strong kick to it. Roast perfection. We finished up with two puddings to share – chocolate mousse with peanut ice cream and blueberry cheesecake sundae. Yes, they tasted as good as you just imagined. Afterwards we decided to walk it off with a trip up to Kenwood House. This was a mistake as my body clearly just wanted to be horizontal.
At £20 for the beef it is one of the more expensive roasts in London, but as far as I’m concerned worth every damn penny. If there is a roast to rival it anywhere in London, I would LOVE to find it.