6-days a week, Borough Market is a hot-bed of activity, with hollering market stall vendors plying their trades and photo-taking tourists wandering around in a sensory-overloaded stupor, trying to decide between the paella and salt beef sandwiches or whether it’s best to just gorge themselves on free cheese samples. However, on Sundays, the stands are empty and a bizarre calm descends upon the historic hall. Whilst the market itself is closed, Borough is still full of gastronomic delights. Chief amongst these being the unabashedly British restaurant, Roast. We walked the deserted paths through the old flower hall to come to Roast at its heart, where we were treated to the restaurant’s namesake – a good old-fashioned English Sunday Roast.
We’ve walked passed Roast near a hundred times whilst Borough Market has been busy and bustling, off-handedly acknowledging its presence and the recollection that some knowledgably so-and-so once told us that it was “great for meat”. However, today is different. The hall is seemingly uninhabited as we come to the unassuming entrance, dominated by a lift and a large hanging sign announcing the venue. We opt for the short flight of stairs – we’re planning to indulge a bit so why not make a token gesture towards balancing the scales. Arriving in the bright and airy eaves of the Old Flower Hall with its wall-to-wall windows, split-level floor servicing over 120 covers and simple but pleasant décor, we are directed to our seat overlooking the empty market and the green façade of The Market Porter Pub.
After a quick look at the cocktail menu, we alight on Appleritif (Waqar pisco, 30 & 40 aperitif, green apple sorbet and sparkling wine; £12) and The Brit (Half Hitch gin, Kamm and Sons British aperitif, Antica Formula Carpano vermouth; £12). Sadly, it takes a good 20 minutes before we are able to order as our waiter is busy serving people who arrived after us but once asked for, they arrive promptly and are delicious. The Appleritif is an ice cold adult slushie with fresh apple sweetness pairing beautifully with the pisco. The Brit is a slow drinker and an instant favourite thanks to its bittersweet flavour and hefty ABV.
As we sip on our cocktails, we peruse the menu of British fare. Everything sounds appetising but, as it is Sunday lunch, we already know that our main is going to be the Roasted East Anglian Chateaubriand, Rosemary Roasties, Yorkshire Pudding, Horseradish Cream and Red Wine Gravy (Serves 2; £75.00). Th difficulty comes when selecting our starters. After much deliberation, we opt for the Oxsprings Air-Dried Ham Salad, Roasted Peaches and Feta (part of the Market Menu, which offers diners 3-courses for £37.50) and the Charcoal Cheddar Soufflé, Ox Heart Tomatoes, Grelot Onions (£9.50), accompanied by a bottle of Château Sainte-Marie Bordeaux Supérieur 2015, recommended to us by our waiter.
Both first courses are stunners in their different ways. The salad is balanced, with soft, cheeky sweetness of the roast peach darting amongst the saltiness of the ham and crumbled feta, whilst the black soufflé is impossibly fluffy, proudly positioned in a middle of a moat of molten English cheddar.
Our mains arrive with some spectacle as a sharing dish strewn with perfectly rare cuts of beef, with a small jug of gravy and a pot of freshly prepared horseradish cream balancing on the side. A bowl of roast potatoes and two large Yorkshire puddings follow. We eagerly tuck in. The beef is of the highest quality and the horseradish is a revelation of flavours. Potatoes are sizeable and crispy, as are the Yorkies, and we are grateful that the gravy jug is seemingly limitlessly refillable.
Feeling somewhat stuffed, we leave a few potatoes uneaten in order to save room for dessert – and luckily so! Both the Bramley Apple and Strawberry Crumble, Almonds and English Vanilla Custard (£9.00) and the Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce, Almond Brittle and Clotted Cream (£14.00) are delicious. The crumble is rightfully crumbly, with sweet, cooked fruit mixing with the custard to create a nostalgic, jammy mess, whilst the sticky toffee staves off oversweetness and is a lovely end to a very British meal.
We leave Roast merry, with our belts loosened a notch and every intention of returning when the market is open so that we can people-watch to our hearts’ content. The dishes were effortlessly crafted to perfection and the light and spacious venue was a delight to indulge in. Make sure you book this spot in for your next Sunday roast.
Roast, The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, London SE1 1TL