The Park Tavern is large late Victorian pile of a pub situated on the Wandsworth approaches of the Merton road. It’s just around the ... Read Feature
‘April is the cruellest month’ T.S Elliot famously opined. Me, I’ve always thought that April’s fab. Spring weather, longer days and Easter. My view is in terms of months to be endured rather than enjoyed January has always taken the crown.
I remember some years back opening my front door on the first working day of the year to be greeted by howling wind, driving rain and the sort of pitch darkness usually associated with horror films. That experience crystallized my feelings about January, the month of giving up things, being skint and having to wait at least 3 months until the next bank holiday.
This year however I am determined not to let the January blues defeat me, and though of course I am committed to becoming a fitter, slimmer, more confident, better looking and taller person, I’ve resolved also to keep doing the things I enjoy. And it was with this in mind that the Ultimate Rugby Fan (URF) and I made our way to partake of a Sunday roast at local pub, The Earlsfield.
The Earlsfield is still a fairly recent addition to the local pub scene. Opened up just a few years ago by the people behind steak mini chain ‘Cattle Grid’ this was not a place I warmed to at first, feeling it was a bit Shoreditch in the suburbs if you know what I mean. It seemed to me to be like it was trying a bit too hard, and the prices matched that pretension.
Now I’ve come to like it rather more, the prices seem to have levelled off a bit, it has a good range of beers and it has live music on Sunday nights so you don’t even have to talk to your companions. True some of it still seems a bit hipster by numbers, but the URF and me had enjoyed a good meal here before and we were keen to try their January £10 Sunday roast special.
The layout of the Earlsfield reflects its short history, formerly a shop that looked like it had last thrived when Victoria was new to the throne and an empty lot next to the station, it has three main areas. The main bar, a sort of upstairs gallery, the restaurant and a back room with a corridor with seating leading to it.
The Sunday we went it was heaving, perhaps due to the weather, or perhaps due to people anticipating an unexpected lie in due to the following day’s tube, who can say. I do know that the only seating we could find was in the corridor area with my seat directly adjacent to the gents’ loo, bliss.
To keep it simple we both ordered from £10 roast menu. I went for pork belly, whilst the URF in accordance with her well established preferences went for beef. Despite being exceptionally busy the food arrived within about 20 minutes.
The plates upon arrival were nice and warm, but something on them wasn’t. This was the gravy, and I’m afraid for me it ruined the whole experience. For the URF being from Yorkshire, the gravy and the pudding make the heart and soul of a roast dinner. Cold gravy definitely took the soul out of it.
I don’t know about you, but one of my frustrations of dining out is finding good quality roast potatoes, and here sadly the experience did nothing to assuage this frustration. Like really hot toast, a good roast potato is something that seems to reside really only in your own home. These were pretty bad examples though I’d feel by anyone’s reckoning.
They had the crumbly inner texture of a potato that has been perhaps been allowed to go cold and then be reheated. This overcooking and reheating meant that the vegetable selection (also carrots and parsnips) was underpowered on the flavour front meaning that every tasted a bit like everything else.
I had ordered a side of bacon Brussel’s sprouts, which turned out to be Brussel’s sprouts with bits of bacon on them. What did I expect stated the URF matter of factly, well I don’t know, but actually these were pretty good, not overdone and with plenty of Brussel’s taste.
Also on the credit side was the pork belly slice itself which was tender and flavourful. Pretty much crumbling away at the first touch of a fork, this must have been slow roasting since the previous November to have such a great consistency. The Yorkshire pudding, both the URF and I decided was amongst the best we’ve tasted outside the home (The URF incidentally) does brilliant yorkies, and her seven hour gravy deserves its own TV special,) and for some reason she got two of them.
The beef though was a disappointment compared to the pork, too thinly sliced, stringy and overdone. To me it resembled nothing so much as the dreaded beef from school dinners, and to the URF it seemed like something that was perhaps a bit too much mass produced.
We both agreed a rating of 6/10 for the food, not bad, but here it can be so much better. £10 might be a bargain price for them, but to me it still seems too much for what in effect is a disappointing single course meal. Come on The Earlsfield, I know you can do it, your Yorkshire puddings are a testament to that, let’s get see if you can produce the roast with the most.
511 Garratt Lane