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Sunday Lunch – hold the red cabbage and don’t pretend your Aunt Bessie didn’t make those Yorkshires.

As you may know, I get properly fed up with poor Sunday Lunches in pubs and, God forbid, “carveries”. So poor had many of these offerings become that I pretty much stopped eating Sunday lunch out, especially since my own version made at home was, even if I do say so myself, pretty damn good.

Anyway, in the interests of research I have begun to venture out again on a Sunday, not least because I had a fairly good one in a local pub and, so surprised was I, I decided the time had come to bite that bullet (which pretty much was my former experience of most pub roasts).

I always go for beef. I do this because I think it is the hardest to cook well and the hardest to keep well during service. I know, mean eh? Anyway, I am going to give a shout out to two of my local pubs, the Chestnut and the Royal Oak Pub and Kitchen (part of the Moleface Pub group) in Radcliffe on Trent.

All other things being equal (ie. the beef is slightly pink and not tough, and the food is hot and the potatoes are not like pebbles, you know the sort of thing) my pet hates are:-

  • Red cabbage. Red cabbage has no place on a Sunday Lunch plate in my view. When did this become a thing? Red Cabbage can just about justify an appearance on the Christmas turkey plate, but beyond that, it just doesn’t belong. Worse still, it appears on every plate, regardless of the meat – lamb, beef, pork, whatever, bung on the red cabbage. No.
  • Gravy. Good gravy is a skill, Bisto and water is not gravy. Neither is stuff flooded with red wine  (a drop yes, perhaps). Moreover, gravy should not be ladled on to the plate regardless of the food on it. I like my gravy on certain parts of my meal, the meat for example, but swamping everything on the plate in a sea of liquid that often renders your Yorkshire Pudding a soggy mush before it reaches your table is just unpleasant. I know that serving gravy on the side requires a bit a more work and washing up. But can I make a plea please? Serve the gravy on the side in a warm jug, so I can put it on the bits of my lunch I want it on. Ta
  • Vegetables steamed with no seasoning and served in a separate usually “rustic style” dish is an abomination. No one ever eats them. They are tasteless and characterless and usually hard. They are generally served this way in places that think they are too “high end” to serve all your food on the one plate at the one time, and they are usually not.I tend to send this side of nonesense back untouched.
  • With beef, having to ask for horseradish sauce, just bring me a pot please.
  • Roast and boiled potatoes. Can we go with one or the other? Because you can have both, doesn’t mean you should.
  • Yorkshire puddings that claim to be home-made but that are perfectly round and probably made by Aunt Bessie.
  • Stuffing does not go with everything and it shouldn’t stick to the roof of your mouth.

Actually, the more I think about it the more things come to mind, so at the risk of becoming even more of a Sunday lunch bore, I will stop there.

Anyway, the Chestnut first, owned by a lovely couple with a dog. Good beef with a brilliant Yorkshire, super gravy, great cauliflower cheese. The red cabbage makes an appearance and the gravy comes on the meal – until requested otherwise  – the whole experience, already good, was greatly improved by a gravy boat and a hold on the ubiquitous cabbage. I hear this place is up for sale, I sincerely hope not.

Part of the Moleface Pub group, The Royal Oak had a bit of an existential crisis last year and stopped serving food, but it is back on track and the Sunday menu is really good, excellent beef and no red cabbage. Also, lovely starters and desserts, resulting in a first….I had three courses. Yep, ate the lot. 😂 I hope that if the Chestnut is up for sale this doesn’t remove the competition for the Royal Oak. You need a bit of excitement to add to the frisson of finding a good Sunday lunch on your doorstep (that you didn’t prepare yourself, natch).

So, if you’re passing this way on a Sunday walk along the Trent, pop in for lunch!

For balance, here are two to avoid. Both shall remain nameless (I realise that means you can’t, in fact, avoid them, but life is full of such annoyances). One is right next to the river and the location properly deserves a better offer than this abomination (pork on this occasion in case you were wondering, yep, pork and Yorkshire Pudding and what is the matter with proper stuffing? The other served me beef I couldn’t cut, a soggy Yorkshire and raw crumble. (see my other post “Does this crumble looked cooked to you?”)


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I am on a bit of a mission now to find the next good Sunday Lunch. Happy days.


1 Comment

  1. I agree with most of what you say, but my criticism goes further: MOST food served in restaurants other than those with a Michelin star suffers from many of the criticisms you level against the Sunday Lunch. Restaurants seem more interested in maximum throughput (hence profit) than on quality of food or service!

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