Yesterday was the most important day of my year, arguably for many years.
Sunday was not. All I needed to do was recover from a hangover, buy a new shoulder bag for work to replace the one that now stunk of piss and ale, have a roast dinner (of, course) and make it home in time for my food shopping delivery.
Simple. Bar the hangover. Just one minute after I posted wondering whether I was going to be able to follow my original plan, my wonderfully craziest friend (and I have a few in that category) messaged me and we were game on. And he invited his even crazier friend.
Can you see where this is going?
I was originally going to go somewhere in Reading but I wanted to impress, and managed to book a table at the surprisingly quiet, Crooked Billet, near Wokingham. I’ve tried on 3 previous occasions to book a table there but always without success.
You’d really have to know this place exists. We found it at the end of a rickety country lane, over a ford of which we decided not to attempt – probably our last sensible decision of the day.
There were a variety of roasts on offer, pork, chicken, lamb, beef and nut roast at £14.50. There was also a mixed option of pork, lamb and beef at £16.50. As I was feeling utterly incapable of making a decision, I went for the mixed roast, despite having had two large sausages rolls for breakfast.
I had little doubt that I was going to get an excellent roast and I was immediately wowed upon delivery. It took a while, 30 minutes or so, though we did have a starter, plus a pre-starter but that was something not supplied by the venue.
Easily the largest plate that I’d been served in a long time but I know where to start. The carrots.
Or carrot. After 69 roast dinners reviews I thought I had seen it all when it came to carrots but this was served simply as one long delicate yet delicious stick of orange. Easy to cut into chunks, moist and succulent.
For my personal tastes the mange tout were too crisp and squeaky but others prefer them this way – horses for courses. I do love a mange tout or two and it was exactly what I was going to do do do, come on let’s do the conga.
Yeah maybe not.
Then there was a fine selection of tenderstem broccoli (thank you again spellchecker) – not just average broccoli. Marginally on the tough side of average but very well-appreciated as a healthy higher class vegetable.
There was some blanched-looking dark green stuff which was possibly cabbage – it tasted good but some of the core was just a little too tough to munch.
We had a little pot of cauliflower cheese too. Nicely crisp on top with the taste of cheese evident too. The cream was thick enough not to infect the gravy. Very good.
Before we go on and you might want to skip this paragraph – don’t say that you were not warned. I know that I normally have a fair linguistic talent however I’m struggling to work out how to insert this naturally (worryingly apt language for what I am going to say) but my crazy friends’ crazy friend would like me to insert a sentence explaining that he believes that the only use for celery is to try to insert it in bodily areas that you would not normally associate with the insertion of celery. Ideally before or during sexual intercourse.
This was pretty much the deal to ensure that he kept his hands off my privates during dinner so I hope that you understand this situation. Sadly I did end up seeing his nob – thankfully not in the restaurant.
Erm…moving on. You are going to miss me, aren’t you?
Three fairly small roast potatoes were included. They were actually properly roasted but sadly they had lost their crispy edges. However what they lost in crispiness they more than made up with the exquisite taste of the goose-fat that they had been roasted in. Even if you had never had roast potatoes cooked in goose fat – you’d know these were. Superb stuff.
The Yorkshire pudding was a decent homemade effort – it hadn’t risen incredibly and was quite medium sized but it was good.
Then comes the meat. Where to start?
I shall start with the beef, which was on the edges just a touch dry but it had a certain flakiness to it of earlier-cooked beef. It had been cooked medium-rare – soft and pinkish on the middle but crispy and grey/brown on the outside. The fatty parts were included too which were divine.
Then the pork which was succulent and juicy, not forgetting the bits of fat that were included to enhance the taste. It also came with a strip of crackling which was perfection – crunchy on top, soft and juicy underneath. Even my crack addict teeth were able to crunch it.
Perfection almost came with the lamb which was just delicious. Sometimes the flavour of lamb doesn’t come out properly, normally when it is quickly cooked but this was superb. As I said, delicious.
All came in sizeable thick slices and it really was a struggle to finish.
And it just leaves to mention the gravy, which was innocuous and very thin. Nothing wrong with the flavour, it was light and complimented the food nicely. But not what you’d call a gravy up north.
There is room for improvement. It was all very good or excellent but it wasn’t a 9. It didn’t quite beat The Crown at Playhatch but it was the closest I’ve come to beating it.
It gets a rather marvellous 8.6 out of 10.
So many highlights from quantity to all of the meat, oh and the cracking – but the goose-fat taste on the roasties was that moment. As a lowlight the gravy was far too thin for my liking but still good. On the Yorkshire-Surrey scale it gets a Stafford.
And how did the rest of my day go? Well, I bought a new bag from town. And then I bought another type of bag down Oxford Road. And I made it home nearly 4 hours after my food delivery.
And had 3 hours sleep before my most important day of the year. Oops.
Next week I am going to tell you how to vote in the EU referendum by way of a roast dinner review, the result of which will not be pre-ordained in any way, oh no, just like Boris’ leave campaign was nothing to do with his leadership desire, oh no, all to do with being faithful to his wife as any good, honest husband would always be. In out in out we’ll shake it all about. By the way I did decide against posting the photo of my friend’s willies that I had to take on Sunday.