Roast still does British cuisine (pretty) well

RESTAURANT ROAST
The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, SE1 1TL Tel: 0845 034 7300

FOOD ***
SERVICE ****
ATMOSPHERE ***

Cost per person without wine: £45

Roast has been around for six years. There was a time when it was one of the foodiest restaurants in London, by which I mean the sort of place those on the cutting edge would go to with their mates. Back then – in 2006 – the cutting edge was British food, locally sourced and (seemingly) simply made. I recall once going there and receiving terrible service but mindblowing food. A friend once boasted of the time he ate heart at Roast – and loved it.

But with Marcus Verberne (formerly of Caprice Holdings), newly at the helm, I thought it was high time I went back.

So how does Roast fare in the gastronomical London of 2012, when dayboat fish and local asparagus no longer elicit oohs and aahhs?

Not badly. The food is still fresh and it still has one of the best views in the area – of Borough Market and the streets surrounding. But on entering – after a hiatus of several years – I couldn’t help but notice the decor felt out of date. The bar furniture was slightly corporate, and there is something slightly lacking in style about the main dining room, too.

And the food was a little pricey, we thought. Starters, which include the likes of Loch Duart salmon with soused cucumbers and Atlantic prawn cocktail, are in the £10-£15 region and – while tasty – probably won’t blow your mind. You can rest assured, though, that whatever’s in season will be on the plate: heritage tomatoes feature prominently now; when we visited, it was all about asparagus.

Mains start to get a bit more interesting: at least, they sound interesting. Goat curry; chargrilled lamb neck with spelt and yoghurt salad. We had gorgeous-sounding duck and fish. The fish – a white dayboat catch – was cottony and well-made, but there was some disappointment with the duck, which was too chewy.

The puddings are impressive. In particular, the sticky date pudding with neighbouring Neal’s Yard creme fraiche. And who wouldn’t want Green & Black's chocolate and sea buckthorn berry mousse? Exactly.

There’s also a good English wine selection – we amused ourselves with Chapel Down fizz and some lovely white to go with. Roast is a good restaurant, but it’s no longer outstanding.

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