How To Get A 10 Out Of 10

You’ve probably looked at my reviews, maybe even read them, and at least occasionally thought that I’m absolutely beautiful and deserve multiple threesomes with hot latino women, ideally with DD breasts – nothing too big.  You may also have thought that I’ve been a bit harsh with my scoring (of roasts – not women) and wondered, what the heck a place has to do to get a 9 out of 10, or hell, even a 10 out of 10.

Beauty is always subjective, except in my case, but the following is a good guide if you want a high score.

The Basics:

Freshly cooked.  One of the main reasons that The Crown scores so highly is that all the food is freshly cooked and HOT when you sit down to eat.  They only serve for 4 hours, they are normally fully booked, each table has its own time slot and the freshly cooked food keeps coming out.  This is impossible to do if you are serving roast dinners midday to 9pm, and very difficult for anywhere without a loyal following.

Value.  The price doesn’t really matter but if you are going to charge upwards of £15 then make sure the quality is high, and the quantity is appropriate.  Roast dinners are not Michelin star fine dining.

Presentation.  Personally I’d prefer a big pile of food, totally hidden by an even bigger pile of very thick gravy.  Presentation is highly unlikely to give extra marks, but it will lose marks for looking prettier than it tastes.

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Atmosphere.  No jazz bands.  No pianos.  No wannabe posh shite.  No twats in oddly-coloured striped jackets drinking Pimms.

Vegetables:

Some vegetables are favoured over others.  I’d suggest 3 types of vegetables would be the most appropriate amount for me to be able to judge vegetability of the establishment.  These are some of those that most turn me on/off (I am touching my left nipple right now):

Cauliflower AND broccoli cheese.  Cauliflower cheese can be the tastiest of vegetables, but supplied with broccoli (still need a spellchecker) then this becomes luxurious.  The two vegetables complement each other so well.  Of course, it needs to be creamy – not too much, and it really does help if there is actually some evidence of cheese.  Both The Crown in Playhatch, and The Bull in Wargrave do this exceptionally.

Carrots.  They must be roasted for top marks.  There is absolutely no excuse for not using some herbs or pepper.  Don’t just give me plain old blanched/steamed carrots.

Broccoli is pretty boring by itself.  Tenderstem broccoli is somewhat more interesting.  If you are going to insist on plain old broccoli then don’t dish it up as if it has been grown in a lake.  And don’t give me yellow-ended crap.

Parsnips.  Always a treat.  Again, roast them please.

Sprouts.  Why don’t I ever get sprouts?  Cooking them with bacon or pancetta would be a true treasure.

Red cabbage.  Just leave it out.  I’ve seriously had enough of it.  Just because the plate looks more colourful does not mean it is a good idea.  Imagine having every single colour on a football kit.  Ridiculous.

Any vegetable pureed.  No no no no no.  I am not a fucking baby.  More of a child.

Leeks and mange tout are glorious vegetables – especially creamed leeks – give me creamed leeks and I will, erm, you know, cream myself.  I’ll get my coat.  Guess what colour my coat is?

Peas.  Just don’t even think about it unless you want that plate thrown back at you.  At best, I will throw some on the floor, in the ashtray, in empty glasses, on the table – anywhere I can because if you want their lack of discipline to infect all of my dinner, then I shall afflict my lack of discipline upon your establishment.

Roast Potatoes:

They need to be soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.  You know, roasted.  Not microwaved.  Not deep fried.  R O A S T E D.  Easily the most difficult part of a pub roast dinner but one with a heck of a lot of points to be gained from.  And to get those roasted edges, they need to be par-boiled and chuffed up beforehand, in my experience.

Do not make them too large – something around 6cm by 3cm by 3cm are the dimensions that I personally aim for, though smaller would work too.

For extra points, cook them in goose or duck fat and please do not be afraid to use herbs – fresh rosemary on roast potatoes is to die for.  Garlic, thyme, onions – all simple but taste-adding ingredients when roasting your potatoes.

Yorkshire Puddings:

I am yet to make the perfect Yorkshire pudding myself so I appreciate that there may be a bit of hypocrisy here.  Then again, I am not a qualified chef.  Though I doubt half the chefs cooking roast dinners in pubs have any kind of qualification – those that do, do jus.

Large.  They must be large or very large.  Do not overcook them, do not turn them into sponges.  They need a soft, soggy bottom (not ultra soggy) and fairly crispy edges.  Must be served with at least a little gravy inside of them.

Meat:

The meat is the area which goes right most often when I’m on my dining visits.  So I haven’t got too much advice here.

Beef should be pink inside.  Bonus points if the option is offered to have it more well done.  Cooked with mustard powder or something similar would highly impress though beef can talk on its own.  Note that I do not want a steak.

When it comes to chicken, Malmaison’s corn-fed chicken breast is the one that has most impressed me.  Hmmmm breasts.  Now touching my right nipple.  Do make sure chicken comes with stuffing.  And there needs to be more than a chicken leg.  Don’t go all Nando’s on me with cheap factory-fed, ill-looking chicken breasts.  And don’t forget herbs.  Or butter, salt, pepper, lemon – all these can bring out some extra taste.

Pork belly is probably the joint that can most impress – but equally it can easily go wrong.  Make sure that crackling is salty, crunchy yet soft enough for my dark brown crystal-meth teeth to handle.  There should be some fat.  All pork joints are helped with herbs.

Lamb is probably, just, my favourite meat.  It doesn’t need to be as pink as beef should but it should be pink inside.  If you are going to provide a lamb shank, then a half-alert me will know if it is from a cash and carry.

All meat should be succulent, never dry.  Fat is good.  Gristle is bad.

And why not do something different – turkey, venison, duck, buffalo, alligator, kudu.  Think out of the box.  Always thinks out of the box.

Gravy:

Oh my word.  Gravy.  The most important element.  Let me just start off by saying don’t even go there with jus.  I have, very occasionally had a nice jus.  Twice I think.  Once at the Black Boy in Shinfield.  Most times it is some pathetic ugly-tasting red wine attempt and just looks like a cheap oil painting.

Gravy should have some consistency and have as much influence as possible from one of the meats that have been cooked.  Herbs, onions, mint, whatever, throw it in but make it thick and tasty.  Not too tasty though, as I don’t want the rest of the dinner fighting to be tasted.

In terms of thickness, my requirements are for a thickness similar to glue.  I don’t expect it though as I am well aware that most people prefer their food thicker than their gravy rather than the other way around.  Just make sure it is thicker than water.  And that there is extra available on request without charging me extra.

Extras:

Herbs.  Have I mentioned them?  Do not forget herbs.  This is not Burger King.

Imagination.  Do something unusual.  Step outside the box.  Be brave.  Please just imagine how many times I have eaten carrots.  I was most impressed with being served not only duck, but romanesco cauliflower at The Greyhound in Finchampstead – which I had never even heard of.  Please do something different.

Service.  I am still a tiny bit Neanderthal so being served by a really pretty Mediterranean girl will always help.  But it helps if they know the menu, have a favourite, have enthusiasm, 30 seconds to talk to me and look interested in whatever crap I am waffling in an attempt to be funny.

But let’s face it.  Nowhere will ever get a 9.

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Beef @ The Cricketers, Littlewick 10/07/2016

I’d like to start by welcoming viewers to Gravy Match Special. Unfortunately Geoffrey Boycott cannot be with us this morning and my gravy boycott is over.

There were a number of options for the roast on Sunday, but given the state of the pitch and the sunny skies, myself and my batting partner plumped for The Cricketers in Littlewick.

A rather unexpectedly idyllic setting just off the A4 towards Maidenhead, sat right across the road from the local cricket pitch – the pub itself felt a little like the England cricket team in the 1990’s in some ways.

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If I recall correctly, they had chicken, pork, beef, lamb shank and possibly a nut roast option too. All were £12.50, except the lamb shank at £13.99. Probably.

We won the toss, and I therefore decided to have the beef, as per the recommendation from the barmaid.

It was a good batting pitch so I was hopeful of getting a good score – a nice seating area outside in the sunshine gave distant views of the cricket match itself.

The dinner arrived after around a 10 or so minute wait – the proper food on the main plate, with a shared and not especially generous side-plate vegetable portion.

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No surprises in the batting order, so I started with the carrots. These were perfectly decent, probably steamed, but very ordinary. The kind of inoffensive sliced carrots my mother would make. That said, it glided nicely towards silly mid-off for 2 runs. Off the mark.

Next up was the broccoli. Over-blanched and a touch soggy with yellow ends suggesting broccoli that should have been eaten last week. That was not a good shot, and is he caught behind? It seems to have clipped the bat and has been sent for review.

Out! Yes a poor shot. They shouldn’t be serving broccoli like that.

Out then came the cauliflower. Inoffensive, average – he played a shot off to leg side and made it back for a single.

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There were four roast potatoes. Quite large in size with some element of roasting, albeit possibly in a deep fat fryer, clipped over the head of the second slip and rolled away for a slightly lucky run.

Oddly for a beef roast dinner, it came with a stuffing ball. It did seem a little too round and I couldn’t quite work out why it was there or what to do with it – do I eat it with a slice of beef? Or just on its own? Again it was nothing special, and sliced towards the gully for a single run.

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Then the bowler attempted a Yorker. Or A Yorkshire pudding. Actually, it wasn’t much of an attempt as it was one of those stick it in the oven efforts. Off the pad. No runs. Poor.

There was a little dinky surprise with a cocktail sausage wrapped in bacon. Pleasantly hit but just a single run. It was a little cold and had that kind of burnt bacon covering. Not especially appealing.

And then onto the beef. Two slices of rather well-done beef, accompanied with quite a bit of gristle and fat – not succulent juicy fat but unnecessary tough fat – and the beef itself was quite tough. At first it appeared to be a beautiful shot in the air towards the boundary, but it was hit straight towards the fielder and caught. Disappointing.

Gravy. It was quite thick and there was plenty of it, however it did taste a little Bistoish. A loose ball which deserved to be whacked for 4, but he missed it. Well, what can you say.

So at the end of the day’s play, a disappointing 6 runs for 2 wickets. Or a 6.2 out of 10 if you are being a little more traditional.

It’s a shame. I wanted to give it a higher score as it really is in a very pleasant location with friendly staff and has a good feel to it. But it is what it is.

I don’t particularly have a highlight (bar the cricket bat table number thing) or a lowlight. It did all blend into an innings of averageness. You won’t go away particularly disappointed. But I doubt you’d return there for a roast either. But do give the pub a try – especially if the cricket is on.

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Next weekend there will definitely not be a roast dinner. I have absolutely no intention of being able to eat anything next Sunday, nor be able to use a computer on Monday. But I might still conjure up some kind of special feature.  Hoooowwwwwwwwwwwwwzzzaaaaaaaaaaatt?


We don’t like gravy, yeah.

We love it.

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Chicken @ The Butler, Reading 26/06/2016

You know this roast dinner strike thing?

Well, I’ve been speaking to Mrs T. She isn’t too happy with me. She isn’t even speaking to me. And you wouldn’t believe the amount of drinks that have fallen off my Margaret Thatcher coasters over the last week.

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We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands. We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to gravy.

Yes. Yes. Yes. I am back off roast dinner review strike. If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman; if you want a roast dinner reviewed, ask a 60-year old pot-bellied transsexual virgin crystal-meth addict.

Pennies do not come from heaven. They have to be earned here on earth. And I didn’t have many of them so I looked for somewhere with a less-expensive roast, and decided upon The Butler in Reading. Each £9.50.

An over-looked pub on Chatham Street, so overlooked that I hadn’t ever been in 18 years of living here. Slightly dishevelled but welcoming, televisions in the corners so I could watch the football, with a variety of seating – including some rather psychedelic sofas near the back.

It was very quiet so I had a large choice of tables. Possibly not a good sign but I ploughed on and ordered the chicken. I was impressed that each had a different form of gravy – I was nearly tempted by the beef (cooked rare) but it came with an “& red wine gravy” – and I have bad memories of red wine gravy, not to mention the off-putting misplaced ampersand.

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Is that blurry or am I still fucked from the weekend?

They all sounded appealing so I sat down for 5 minutes whilst a fairly packed plate was microwaved.

I started with the cabbage which I didn’t finish. White and tasteless, this was the most pointless item for many a month.

The batons of carrots were fairly average, a little roughly cut, slightly on the soft side.

Speaking of soft – the broccoli had been long over-blanched, very soft and soggy, to the point of losing its colour. Any woman who understands the problems of cooking broccoli will be nearer to understanding the problems of making a roast dinner.

Not exactly anything over-enamouring so far but this changed with the cauliflower cheese which was rather wow. The strength of the cheese, with perhaps a hint of paprika gave it a kick – really, very impressive. If only I had had a whole bowl of it. You could do business with this cauliflower cheese.

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The new potatoes were fairly standard – four or five earthy morsels with enough bite.

Also standard were the roast potatoes – three, of course, standard, and sadly the standard roasted-earlier microwave standard. They were a touch chewy and bouncy inside. I’ve had far worse, but they were not massively appealing, after all, if you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to make fresh roast potatoes, and you would achieve nothing but good roast dinners.

There was a ball of stuffing – possibly homemade, after all the roast dinner had an endearingly homemade touch to it. Sadly it didn’t have much flavour to it – it seemed to have no herbs, perhaps more sausagemeat – possibly some nuts and onion, also a touch on the dry side.

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Some places (mentioning no names, Nando’s) offer out the most pathetic excuses for a half chicken that you could imagine. The Butler does not. This was a full-sized half a chicken. I’m assuming that it was cooked in the white wine that the gravy was made out of, as the chicken seemed oddly pale at first look.

It was a succulent chicken and I did struggle to finish it. The white wine flavouring didn’t come out overly strongly, but it certainly gets good marks.

There is no such thing as society: there are individual Yorkshire puddings, and there are families. The Yorkshire pudding was homemade and a good effort. Well-risen, quite soft on the bottom.

Being powerful is like eating gravy. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t. Well, it was special – not often you see an establishment make the effort so that their gravy stands out. This was filled with herbs, mostly parsley, and an unusual light cream in colour. I wouldn’t say that I loved it – the flavour wasn’t overly strong, it was thicker than water but being a northerner, I’d prefer it thicker. But I do very much appreciate the effort and inventiveness.

Overall it was a really mixed bag. Some parts excellent, more inventiveness than normal – but also some parts very average. The highlight was the wowtastic cauliflower cheese – the pointless cabbage the lowlight.

I’m going to give it a nice, round 7.0 out of 10. Or am I? Maybe a 6. Or a 5. To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning. It definitely gets a 7.0.

Iron out the imperfections and this could be a slightly unexpected go-to place for roast dinners in the centre of Reading. We are not exactly blessed with roast dinner venues in the town centre so I would certainly recommend giving this a try.

Next weekend I’m in Hull for a family wedding despite trying my hardest to offend the groom by repeatedly stating that all firemen are lazy, overpaid striking scumbags. I might be back in time but don’t count on it. The weekend after I’m going clubbing and considering I went clubbing this weekend and had a grand total of two bacon sandwiches in 48 hours, I’m sure that you can imagine that there is zero chance of me eating a roast dinner. The weekend after I might be away too!

So you might have to wait 4 weeks for your next review. But I’ll try to do something for you, otherwise you’ll have to be patient – I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end. Gosh I might even do a feature. Well, it’s better than nothing?

Unless the 25 powerful Margaret Thatcher quotes website that happened to be a porn site that I clicked on at work this morning gets me the sack, in which case goodbye forever. Ooops.

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Strike Demands

Right.

As advised by my honourable trade union leader, I should set out my demands to return to work following this necessary post-Brexit strike.

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Obviously the unacceptable and dangerous working conditions are the main criteria, though I shall also touch on fair recompense.

These are my requirements to end the strike:

  1. A crate of chicken Goldenfry gravy for when I am too hungover to make some decent gravy.
  2. 1,000 Facebook followers and 5,000 Twitter followers.
  3. A public apology and a free roast dinner from the landlady of The Shoulder of Mutton for all of her hurtful words last year.
  4. A swimming pool built in my garden.  Filled with gravy.
  5. A minimum of two naked attractive young ladies (ideally from Yorkshire, Spain or Iran), covered in gravy, to caress my nipples with said gravy.
  6. A crown from The Crown.
  7. Roast dinner for two at Buckingham Palace, with the Queen and at least 3 members of the royal family.
  8. A statue for David Cameron at Westminster.
  9. A film/TV contract for Roast Dinners Around The World.
  10. Some kind of honours, ie a knighthood.

These minimal demands are fair recompense for the public work that I carry out on a weekly basis and the danger that I face.

Only on receipt of all 10 of these demands will I resume reviewing roast dinners.

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Long live lesbians.

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