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Roast


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Helen and I are planning our annual trip back to London for an extended time frame and were curious on some feedback on "Roast" restaurant at the Borough Market. We are renting a flat in St. Catherine's Dock so we can walk over the bridge for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Any comments or feedback on this establishment. I aslo hear through the grapevine that our favourite manager "Brian Sullivan" at the Wine Wharf Wine Bar has moved to Norwich to run a boutique hotel...any gossip?

Cheers,

Stephen Bonner

Vancouver

Edited by SBonner (log)

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

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Such disparate views!  Whom do we believe???

Don't believe anything you read on the web :wink:

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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:unsure: Now you tell me, Tim. I believed and that's how I ended up in the UK! Perhaps I'll give Roast a go and decide for myself one day. And why do we read the critics so often... is it to spend wisely, waste less time? What happened to just being brave and/or foolhardy?
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Someone who's view I value had a really awful meal there this weekend.

Also, as I was walking around Borough Friday afternoon, a group of people came out [of Roast] saying - "Ok, where is the baguette place for some real food." :rolleyes:

I's sooner go to the BK at London Bridge.

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Every review of this restaurant has been truly dreadful

Not the case if you believe the press page on the restaurant's website.

Hmmmm, some selective editing there. E.g.

""A top spot for lunch" - Daily Telegraph"

comes from a REVIEW that also has the following included:

"My S is forever joyfully ordering suckling pig in restaurants, only to slump into sobs at the overcooked, pale weals of meat and soggy crackling that appear. ''It's usually more like a pork chop than anything else,'' he volunteers, as if anyone actually cared about his opinion. "
"Roasts sampled at Roast include a moist, flavoursome chicken served with a good bread sauce and a papery pheasant that was small, dry and quite possibly reheated in a very disappointing way. It was taken off the bill, which was appreciated, but if Roast can't get roasts right during its first week, when the restaurant is half full, I worry for its future."
"The service is all over the place but well-meaning and improving all the time. The kitchen is let down by dishes hanging around for too long and Mr Wahhab and his team have got to understand the British nation may fight them on the beaches, but won't be making repeat visits if the roast potatoes are served cold."

and in the interests of being fair:

"Meanwhile, the spit-roasted Roast version is exemplary; juicy meat with a clean and clear porky flavour presented in a very appetising way, and with a little black pudding on the side."

Meanwhile The Independent (Full artcle here: arcticle)) quote doesn't actually come from a review but a piece about Iqbal Wahhab that seems to have been written before the restaurant even opened.

The quote from the Times is "National Treasure" This is actually the title of an article written, once again, about the forthcoming opening of Roast (Here. The actual review (Here) from Giles Coren once it opened included the following:

"But, my word, what a howling dog of a restaurant. You want to take it out and shoot it just from compassion."
"So it hardly matters that the split-pea broth with salt beef had almost no meat in it, was barely seasoned and was served at the temperature of a Black Country puddle. Or that the rib of beef was slack and cool, like chewing an old man’s face. And that the pheasant was barely hung and absolutely without flavour. It matters a bit, though, that when I asked the waitress what kind of oysters they were serving, she replied: “They are just normal oysters” (while downstairs in the market there’s a guy selling 14 different types of “normal oyster” from wooden crates)."

I'm not sure how The restaurant got listed in Maschlers hottest meals of 2005 but her main review (Here) seemed disappointed :

"Seeing chicken and pork turning on a spit, and oysters and other shellfish displayed on ice, filled us with hope and anticipation, but too much of what the four of us chose to eat last week turned out to be a letdown.

Sillfield Farm white-puddingand-parsnip pancake with fried egg and bacon would have made a wonderful breakfast but was a ludicrous first course at dinner. Chickweed is a novel component in a crab cake and debatable as an asset. Less potato padding would have improved it.

Dublin Bay prawns with Cook's Salad Cream, an olive-oil-free dressing that Elizabeth David revived in her book Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen, were plentiful for £12.50 but rather ordinary specimens.

From the spit, roasted bantam chicken was a fine juicy bird and the accompanying bread sauce was good, too, but the roast suckling pig with apple and black pudding was tough meat and not meltingly tender as it should be. "

That press page should come with a warning! :rolleyes:

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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"I settled for pheasant (£16), which came with chestnuts and honey-glazed parsnips in a generous serving (half a bird) that was perfectly roasted. My friend was equally pleased with his grilled, spatchcocked partridge with rosemary and cobnut butter, although he felt obliged to have the unadvertised red cabbage (superb) removed and returned to me in a bowl." Matthew Norman, Guardian 17 December 2005.

We could go on like this for, oh, minutes. My point is that your claim that "every review of this restaurant has been truly dreadful" is simply not true.

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:unsure:  Now you tell me, Tim. I believed and that's how I ended up in the UK! Perhaps I'll give Roast a go and decide for myself one day. And why do we read the critics so often... is it to spend wisely, waste less time? What happened to just being brave and/or foolhardy?

It's an interesting question.

I used to have a simple answer.

a) There would be very little logical point in people lying about how bad a restaurant was. Particularly if there were many of them

b) There would be a commercial point in a small number of people lying about how good a restaurant was

c) Amateur reviewers tend to follow the herd if a restaurant has received good reviews.

Therefore, generally bad reviews are trustworthy and generally good reviews should be investigated. Small numbers of good reviews are often fraudulent and I wouldn't patronise a place that had to lie to PR itself.

Then I discovered online communities and I realised that I'd been naiive. People are brilliantly and undetectably good at sliding in a concealed PR puff and, in spite of what I wanted to believe about web people, were quite capable of nasty, paranoid little assassinations.

What I meant by my previous, flippant comment, was that I now take everything I read on the web as unattributable unless I know the poster personally.

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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I now take everything I read on the web as unattributable unless I know the poster personally.

I've never been to Roast. But my better half, whom I know personally, was there last week and was impressed enough to insist that we go back as soon as possible.

My own impression -- formed by word of mouth not experience, -- is that it's a Conran-sized operation that's being run by a restaurateur who doesn't have a Conran-like number of kitchens in which to vet staff. That's what caused its shambolic opening. And even now, the standard on both sides of house every evening is defined by the number of resignations and no-shows each morning.

As for punter reviews, the general public seem keen to complain about anywhere with a reputation or ambition, while giving an equal amount of praise to some real

stinkers. From this I can only conclude that the public are weird.

Edited by naebody (log)
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As for punter reviews, the general public seem keen to complain about anywhere with a reputation or ambition, while giving an equal amount of praise to some real

stinkers. From this I can only conclude that the public are weird.

Empowering civilians with access to their own mass media is truly a double edged sword :wink:

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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OK, I'm a glutton for punishment, I might try it for breakfast, I hope to be pleasantly surprised

It will be interesting to see how you find it.

My experience is that both service and food miss the mark. The food offering is both overpriced and misconceived. For example, what would have been a very pleasant mushroom pancake was served with stong crumbled stilton which completely destroyed the subtle flavour of the rest of the dish.

On the other hand, it is a great place for drinks; the cocktails are fun and wine list is well thought out. The views are lovely, and apart from some weak artworks the fit-out is a triumph. Maybe its future is primarily as a bar?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I met a sous chef from Roast socially, a very nice chap (although it's somewhat incongruous for a Senegalese whose last gig was @ Zuma to be essaying 'English' food). I told him I hadn't bothered with Roast because it seemed to suffer from London Restaurant Syndrome (aka, pretentiousness). He said, maybe, but the kitchen crew are deeply committed to the concept and particularly fastidious in sourcing ingredients and that they are still improving from a disastrous start. Apparently, Marina's review torpedoed them. However, it had a galvanising effect and, six months on, he reckons that the operation has hit its stride. He also pointed out that the bar - as mentioned elsewhere in this thread - offers better views, at least, than The Wheatsheaf...

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