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5 writers on their favourite Sunday roasts in London

A retro tradition that’s still going strong: we bring you a snapshot of the London Sunday roast in 2019

Photograph: Rebecca Zepher Thomas
By Time Out London contributors |
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It’s officially roast season, which (hopefully) means gravy by the bucketload, massive yorkshire puddings and a vast pile of roast potatoes. We asked five writers to wax lyrical about their favourite roast dinners across the city, from veggie options to classic roast beef. Let’s tuck in. 

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Photograph: Rebecca Zepher Thomas
Bars and pubs

The Sun Inn

Barnes

When I was at university, I lived in Mortlake, just up the road from Barnes. It was then that I first popped into The Sun Inn and fell head-over-heels in love. For years after that visit, even once I’d moved away, I waxed lyrical about the south-west London pub. I remembered it as a cosy warren of low lighting, roaring fires and purple walls. In my head were sweet pictures of strawberry beer, chips the size of Duplo bricks and coots pirouetting on the icy lake outside. Normally, rose-tinted memories like those turn out to be the result of one too many rounds at the bar, but when I moved back to London I booked back into The Sun for Sunday lunch. And – dramatic pause – it really was as lovely as I remembered. The roasts are old-school classics (rosemary-and-garlic lamb, half a roast chicken, 12-day-aged beef) but with a dash of quality (no death by heat lamp here). As a veggie, I get the nut roast, drench it in velvety gravy and chomp through crinkly cabbage and cumulus clouds of cauliflower cheese, which I fold inside the balloon of yorkshire pudding. Truthfully, though, all that is just the warm-up. I really come here for the pudding. A trough of sweet-and-sharp apple pie, the blob of ice cream melting as I gargle ale like I’m Henry VIII and inhale the scent of wet dog. Ah, Barnes, you’re like the posh countryside (only with way better transport links). Rosemary Waugh

Photograph: Rebecca Zepher Thomas
Restaurants, British

Quality Chop House

Clerkenwell

A Quality Chop House roast is an event roast, the kind of roast that will overshadow every other meal until the following Sunday, when I can return to the eerily quiet weekend streets of Clerkenwell for another gouty treat. Never do I feel more like a Dickensian baddie than when snuggled into a wood-panelled booth at this elegant Victorian parlour of carbs while loading up on majestic meats and sharing sides, delivered on the daintiest crockery this side of my nan’s house. Unlike a more sloppy Sunday roast – one that comes hot on the heels of a shameful, smudged hand stamp from The Dolphin and a 3am bedtime – to be hungover eating this would be an aberration. Senses need to be sharp to fully embrace silky honeyed carrots, nutty mouthfuls of jerusalem artichoke and two kinds of potatoes: roasted and confit. The more hazy the mind, the more likely I am to forget to order the nourishing game tea, essentially posh Bisto, to kick off proceedings. For the finale, I always go for cheese, crackers and some kind of quince-based ooze. A sweet sullies a roast. A proper roast is a meal for adults, not children, and the lack of buggies cluttering The Chop House’s stately chequerboard tiles proudly tells everyone as much. Leonie Cooper

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Photograph: Rebecca Zepher Thomas
Restaurants, British

12:51

Angel

I didn’t go to pubs for a roast when I was growing up – that was something I’d eat at home. Now I’m well beyond the age where it’s acceptable to ask my mum to whip up a storm in the kitchen, and trying to find somewhere for Sunday lunch that’s free from the aroma of stale ale is a challenge. Thankfully, I’ve discovered the two-person feast at 12:51, which is an absolute treat, especially on grey, rainy winter days. From the two-month-aged sirloin to the chargrilled hispi cabbage and truffle-dusted cauliflower cheese, all the classics get a magic touch, making them tricky to recreate at home. (A fair excuse to be lazy and let a pro cook do it.) It’s brilliant as it comes but even better if you kick things off with the tomato-tea-based Bloody Mary Martini, which makes a refreshing change from the classic recovery cocktail. One more tip: the roast comes with a rainbow of condiments, but a dollop of the in-house sweet-but-tangy scotch bonnet chilli jam is essential. It’s like a taste of Caribbean Christmas, somehow pairing as well with the beef as with the roast potatoes and carrots. Take my advice: buy a jar to take home and throw any thoughts of cranberry sauce at Christmas in the bin. Riaz Phillips

Photograph: Rebecca Zepher Thomas
Restaurants, Contemporary Global

Coal Rooms

Peckham

It’s all fun and games when you’re dancing, shrieking and clinging on to your youth on a Saturday night into the wee hours of Sunday – until you wake up. Sometimes, all I can manage on a Sunday morning is the short walk to my front door to receive my Uber Eats delivery. But when I want to feel really grown up and be brought back to life by a mountain of food, I brave the outdoors, breathe in that lovely fresh air and stroll to a local haunt for a roast. Tucked beside Peckham Rye station, Coal Rooms has become a favourite of mine. The yorkshire pudding sits majestically on top of the perfectly cooked beef and fluffy potatoes (with a crispy exterior that begs to be Instagrammed). The portion size is enough to leave you feeling like you’ve got your value for money. (It’s £20 for beef and £17 for lamb shoulder, but so worth it.) And, as someone who likes their roasts to be swimming, I’m always excited by the generous glug of hearty gravy. Vibe-wise, it’s hangover-friendly too, which I appreciate. What used to be a station ticket office is small, minimalist and not too loud – excellent for those Sundays when you want the ground to swallow you whole. Kemi Alemoru

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Photograph: Rebecca Zepher Thomas
Bars and pubs, Gastropubs

The Princess of Shoreditch

Shoreditch

Growing up in a Chinese household, a roast wasn’t the Sunday family gathering food of choice. We’d have towering stacks of dim sum instead. But I think that being a late bloomer means I’m hungrier to make up for valuable lost roast-eating time. I first went to The Princess of Shoreditch after a friend recommended it and, boy, it didn’t disappoint. The place is buzzy with background music and cosy ambience. I’m a carnivore but try my best to eat less meat and opt for the vegetarian option when I can. Now, before you roast me (sorry) and tell me that it’s a crime not to have meat in your Sunday lunch, let me tell you what’s on the menu: a whole roasted celeriac with sage, pumpkin seed mix and pickled shallot  – a beautiful balance of nutty and smoky, rich flavours that’s even tastier than it sounds. It’s served with all the trimmings: glazed carrots, parsnips, roast potatoes, gravy and brussels sprout tops. Sure, the sprouts might be heading into Christmas dinner territory and upsetting all you roast purists out there, but they’re covered in butter so I say: who cares? The whole lot is topped with a gigantic homemade yorkshire pud that precariously rocks on top of the mountainous roast like a crispy golden crown. The Princess of Shoreditch, I hereby dub thee creator of one of the finest roasts in this city. All hail your gloriously golden veg! Angela Hui

Tuck into more Sunday roasts

Andy Parsons
Andy Parsons
Restaurants

London’s best Sunday lunches

Sunday lunch: it’s the greatest meal of the week, bar none. We’ve rounded up London’s best Sunday roasts from a host of homely pubs and restaurants all around town.

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