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