The Great RopeWalks Roast Dinner - Part 3: The Shipping Forecast
Roast Dinners. Possibly the one thing that as a nation Britain still does together, on a Sunday afternoon with friends and loved ones. Times have changed somewhat now though, with lots of us working on Sundays, or simply not having the time to prepare this classic dish. It is not to be forsaken however, for we will still have it if it kills us!
This is why many of us have taken to RopeWalks' many fine eating establishments to take the time to savour that most homely of foods, and share conversation with friends without the hassle of spending most of the day in the kitchen. We can pay someone to do that, and as it's their job, they will do it thoroughly well. Afterwards they will clean up too. Fantastic!
This series however, will find out which of our eateries serve the best roast. Today it is the turn of The Shipping Forecast.
The Shipping Forecast has many different faces. It is a cool, measured party den, it is a great intimate lo-fi gig venue, it is somewhere you can hang out for a catch up with your friends. Great! What else could you possibly ask for? Food? Well the Shipping Forecast has that covered too – and I might add, this week it has taken the crown for it’s Sunday Roast!
The venue is warm and inviting when I stroll in at 3pm. The sun has started to make an appearance outside these days, and although it looks warm, there is a slight chill still in the air. This sunlight fills the front area on Shipping Forecast’s Slater Street side and intermingles with the glow of the ambient golden lights provided throughout. Around the tables there sit friends and family. The larger tables are providing space for 6-7 people, whilst ones bigger still allow 13 people to sit comfortably. There are still lots of spaces for smaller parties of 2-4 dotted around, and there are no bad areas where you might feel cold or in the way. The tables are all clean, and the staff are very friendly. There is even a Nintendo 64 out on a long low down table surrounded by soft leather sofas for those who wish to play.
There is a great choice here today – The Shipping Forecast offers 4 choices of Sunday roast: 21 day aged topside Beef with Horseradish sauce (£8.95), English loin of Pork with Kentish Apple & Sage sauce (£7.95), Half Shropshire roasted Chicken (£8.95), Sweet Potato, Cashew & Cheddar roast w/Beetroot & Horseradish chutney (£7.95).
These form part of a wider Sunday-only menu which offer sides to share including Classic Cauliflower Cheese or Sunday Roast Vegetables (Both £3 each), plus a range of Breakfasts, Boutique Burgers & also a ‘Share with friends’ menu.
I am opting for the Loin of Pork today as I intend to try different meats each week. I order at the bar and take a seat at a table directly opposite the open sided kitchen. Inside I can see the Chefs preparing the range of meals on offer with methodical speed. The hot overhead lights above the service area only come on when a dish is ready, and within 30 seconds it is whisked away to a waiting customer. Around me is the chatter of the week’s trials and successes. The patrons seem jovial and relaxed here and I don’t mind the wait for my dish to arrive. The free wifi is a nice distraction, and a full compliment of condiments arrive with a knife & fork as I browse the months upcoming events at the bar. I sip my cold Coke.
After 15 minuets my food arrives and I am impressed by the size of it. The plate is 12-13” wide. In it’s centre is perhaps the best roast presentation yet, with the different vegetables, meat and Yorkshire pudding all laid out with individual attention. Everything is covered by a light gravy which is just enough to cover the ingredients whilst not enough to be eaten with a fork. There is a nice helping of smooth, creamy mash which has just the right consistency, probably having being stiffened by an egg or 2. Instead of straight Roast Potatoes, there are little miniature jacket potatoes. Their centres are soft and light whilst their jackets add nice taste and texture having been slow cooked. The vegetable selection has also been slow roasted in a tray and lightly brushed with oil and maybe a dash of Honey too. There is Courgette, Carrot & Sweet Potato. All are individually exceptional, but together are like the holy trinity! There is a 4” home made Yorkshire pudding which is reassuringly not perfectly rounded. It is crispy and absolutely delicious. This is the best Yorkshire pudding I’ve had to date during these reviews. There are garden peas too, although these are your common all-garden variety. On my plate there are 3 fanned slices of succulent Pork Loin. They are tender and Juicy, whilst the rind which has been left on by the Chefs crack beautifully when I cut it with my knife - the rind tastes amazing too. Over all the attention to detail is exceptional here, with the exception of an absent helping of Apple & sage sauce which I forgot was supposed to be included when I clamped eyes on the dish and got stuck in.
So then, how did The Shipping Forecast do?
Here are the results:
Size of roast dinner: 9 (there was a nice amount of Pork, nice amount of gravy and right thickness, Yorkshire pudding 4" - the biggest yet).
Ingredient cooking: 10 (slow cooked to perfection, the meat was juicy and succulent whilst the rind cracked under knife, mash was perfect - smooth yet stiff, potatoes were beautifully done and were a welcome change to the normal roast potato).
Time for meal to arrive: 15 minuets (not bad).
Hospitality: 9 (Staff were attentive, a large range of condiments were provided swiftly, was asked twice if everything was ok).
Atmosphere of venue: 10 (was warm and inviting, the daylight was nice through the windows whilst the other lights were ambient and warm, no tables needed clearing/cleaning as all previous tables were free of detritus and none of the people at other tables left whilst I was there, music was perfect level allowing for conversation - genre: folksy).
Price: 8 (£7.95 - £8.95). Best ingredients encountered so far so worth the extra.
Facilities: 10 (Free Wi-Fi, clean toilets, free Nintendo 64 to play).