So the random number generator decided that I should go back to Playhatch, the scene of the greatest ever roast dinner (except those I’ve cooked myself, of course). Until I realised that England had a friendly against Ireland at 1pm. And I don’t usually miss England games. And according to the website, The Shoulder Of Mutton only serves roast dinners until 2pm.
What was I going to do? Roast dinner in the gorgeous sunshine, or watch the football?
And apart from the fact that the last time England and Ireland played in Ireland, there was a riot, why exactly was the game kicking off at 1pm?
I chose gravy over football. Was it a wise decision?
Confusingly when I called in advance, they seemed to suggest that they served roast dinners until 7:30pm. Contradictory to their website. Dear businesses – people do actually use the internet. And then when I arrived, they didn’t have a record of my booking. Not to worry, as there were plenty of free tables.
Now let’s be Frank Spencer about this. A pub serving a roast dinner within 100 metres of The Crown, is going to end up being compared to The Crown.
I’ve been told both that they do really good roasts, and also really disappointing roasts.
I was initially very encouraged as the menu had slightly unusual choices – gammon, turkey and mutton are not often offered, and I really like trying different foods – on a slight tangent I went to a Moroccan restaurant in Windsor on Saturday night, and their spicy sausages would have gone down a treat on a roast dinner.
Anyway I chose the beef.
Only joking. I plumped for the gammon, and after a 10-15 minute wait in the gorgeous sunshine, the food arrived, looking on the home-cooked side – with the vegetables on a side dish, and extra gravy upon request arriving in a gravy boat.
I’m never really sure about vegetables being in a side-dish. I feel that it is just for presentational purposes, however it really worked here as the cream from the creamed leeks somewhat infused the carrots, and to a very minor extent, the broccoli. Damn, I spelt it wrong again.
Carrots were flat and fairly thin. They tasted like carrots. Did you know that carrots in Spanish, are zanahorias? I really am scraping the barrel on how to describe carrots.
Likewise the broccoli was broccoli. Both the zanahorias and the brócoli (it’s not spelt wrong – it’s Spanish) seem to have been steamed, and had the added complexion of the cream from the creamed leeks, which was a nice touch.
I don’t ever recall having creamed leeks on my adventures, so again marks for doing something different. As I have demonstrated above, there are only so many ways I can make carrots interesting now I am on review number 27. Although they were creamy, there was something missing, as creamed leeks really should be a taste sensation. But they were good.
Now onto the not-so-good parts.
The roast potatoes did taste like they were out of a bag and put in a deep fat fryer. There were 4 potatoes, all small. Two slightly crispy, one of which was fairly uncooked inside. The other two not at all crispy and not cooked enough inside. Oh Betty.
The Yorkshire pudding was one of those small sponge-like ventures, and over-cooked. Not good at all. Ohhh Betty.
But we got stuffing. Yes there was stuffing, and it was home-made with both sage and orange evident on my tastebuds. I was quite impressed. All roast dinners should come with stuffing. Perhaps not beef and lamb, but all others should.
Onto the gammon – the reason why I was rather excited. It was a tiny bit overcooked for my preferences, giving it a slightly dry complexion. Average at best – the last time I had gammon was at The World Turned Upside Down, and it wasn’t as good as that. Albeit that was the only thing I enjoyed at The World Turned Upside Down.
There was plenty of gravy, and it was real gravy. Well, except in consistency where it more resembled a jus, especially with the many oil spots.
One day I will go on a photography course.
Overall it definitely gets extra marks for trying to do something different, the pub is nice, the garden was really nice in the sunshine, the service was good and the price of the roast was a pleasing £11.50. And I can go into celebratory mode – they forgot to charge me for my second cider.
But there is much room for improvement, especially for the more crucial components.
And the question will always be asked – why are you going to The Shoulder Of Mutton when The Crown is just 100 metres away? Unless The Crown is fully booked, then you should always go to The Crown.
I’m going to give it a 6.1 out of 10.
Next Sunday I’m going to another chain. My expectations are higher than they were for the Wetherspoons, and hopefully it beats the Toby Carvery. But it certainly has the potential to be dreadful. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Betty.
So how was the football?