This week a short and sweet review for anyone seeking a quality roast dinner in London with a difference that won’t cost the world!
I have to admit roast dinners don’t usually feature highly on my culinary agenda when it comes to eating out. Why? Well as a none meat eater my choice of what to order at most restaurants serving this quintessentially British dish is reduced to a dry, heavy and tasteless nut roast or, even worse, a cop out risotto or stuffed pepper option so that the restaurant doesn't have to go near the idea of being a little innovative when it comes making a veggie friendly roast. Not one to give up and with hearty food season well and truly here I began to conduct a little research on where to find a roast with a difference and stumbled across a true gem that also happens to be in my back yard.
Indeed I had been to 100 Hoxton, a cosy yet stylish dining spot serving Asian fusion small plates with a hint of Ottolenghi on Hoxton Street, many, many times before, mainly to make the most of their fantastic happy hour (which I have written about it on this blog before) but had actually never managed to eat there. Their menu looked amazing no doubt but their small plate dining approach slightly put me off, this type of menu often turning a dinner into an expensive affair, especially when like me you are greedy and want to try everything, which is why I was both excited and intrigued to find out that they offered an affordable and unique sounding Sunday roast menu, including a rather fantastic sounding vegetarian option.
Sunday plans were quickly hatched to try their offerings with my friend Henry and after we had downed a couple of Aperol Spritz’s at my flat we were on our way (not a hard task with the restaurant only a 5 minute walk away). We couldn’t help but time our dinner to be during their happy hour, which is on every day, including weekends, from 5 to 7 and offers 2 cocktails for £11 cocktails from their fantastic list. Again there is an Asian twist on classics but it is far from gimmicky, rather resulting in some absolutely stunning mixed beverages at a value for money that is hard to beat in London. My all time favourite is the aptly named 100 Hoxton- ginger, chilli, lychee liqueur, lemon and fizz, but we also tried and loved their take on the Mai Thai on this occasion, spiced with plum jam and with a hint of pineapple. The drinks here are undoubtedly better than what most restaurants and even some well regarded cocktail bar serve in this city and are not to be missed even without happy hour on.
Back to what we really came for on this occasion though, the food, and rather than going straight for the roast we couldn’t help but try at least one of the small plates that had eluded me so long, sharing it as a light starter between us. It was far from easy to choose just one but we eventually settled for the roasted cauliflower with preserved spiced lemon yogurt, walnut and pomegranate salsa and boy it was an utter flavour explosion, so good in fact that I am just going to have to bite the bullet and come here for a proper a la carte small plates experience soon, it of the same culinary standard as far more renown dining spots such as Ottolenghi.
This of course heightened our expectation of the roasts to come and I am happy to say that they did not disappoint. 100 Hoxton doesn’t completely abandon all the classic components of a roast; red cabbage, roast potatoes and mini Yorkshire puddings come, cooked to perfection, on the side, but instead add their unique culinary twist in a different way that doesn’t feel forced or pretentious but is subtle and shows a real understanding of flavour and cooking.
Henry chose the duck breast with confit garlic jus in the end (though he struggled to pick with slow cooked pork belly with apple sauce as well as 28 day aged rib eye beef also on the menu ) and was seriously impressed, not an easy thing as he is a proper foodie, while I of course went for the veggie option- stuffed eggplant with portobello mushroom, pine nuts, parmesan, herbs and, wait for it, tonkatsu gravy, which without exaggeration was one of the best things I have ever eaten. Served with cabbage and potatoes on the side this was fusion done to perfection, a roast dinner reinterpreted to elevate every single flavour on the plate and that all for 12(!) pounds. Indeed the most pricey roast, the beef option, comes in at only at just £15, making this extraordinarily good value for London, especially when you consider how damn tasty everything served here is.
It’s cheap, it’s bloody tasty, serves amazing cocktails and takes reservations. If there is a better place for a Sunday roast in London I’d like to see it to believe it. Highly recommended.