The Traditional Sunday Roast
To the French we are the ‘Rosbifs’ (Roast Beef) because of our love of a good roast dinner – goodness knows why they take offence when we nick-name them ‘frogs’! And, for centuries it has been the UK’s national dish, since the days when folk would drop their joint of meat off at the local bakers en route to church. Even the poor folk, without large open fires at home, could have a roast on a Sunday because the bakers ovens were still hot from Saturday’s bread batch. So from days of old, us Brits have been sharing a good Sunday roast dinner with our nearest and dearest.
And, maybe that’s why we are so fond of our roast beef and Yorkshire puddings here in the UK : it’s not the greatest culinary invention but when you associate it with a day off and enjoying it with family and friends, then of course it becomes the best meal of the week!
These days, however, unless you’re visiting the mother ship, a lot of us have a penchant for a good pub version – there’s no need to stress about a flat Yorkshire and somebody else does the washing up! But not all pub or restaurant versions live up to mums and I just can’t abide a runny gravy or sub-standard roasties. Add to that the perfect cauliflower cheese and proper seasonal veg and it just becomes too many boxes to tick for some places. So, here I am again with my Top Five recommendations for a great Sunday dinner in Nottingham….
Larwood And Voce
Fox Road, West Bridgford
This place has a reputation. A good one though, for a few years Larwood and Voce has been receiving accolades and awards for its Sunday Dinner. And as you know, reputations aren’t built upon nothing – the meat, whatever your preference, is always reliably good and there’s plenty of it. We tend to go for the ‘The famous proper roast’, which is beef, lamb and pork with all the trimmings, and we share it. It’s £17 and it’s plenty for us. If you want your own then prices start at £13.50. Or if you fancy a little more, their cauliflower cheese is pretty good.
The gravy is a little weak but I can overlook this due to the rest being so flamin’ tasty! Gravy is usually the final component which pulls it all together for me but Larwood have perfected everything else that it almost goes unnoticed. Perfectly cooked veg, huge Yorkshires and a generous portion of meat.
Book a table in the gastro-pub style restaurant (and you will need to book because their reputation proceeds them) or turn up and take your chances for a seat in the bar area. Personally we like to skip Sunday breakfast and roll up around 11.30am to guarantee a table but enjoy a quiet read of the Sunday papers before the crowds arrive at 12. Naturally there’s a sporting atmosphere, being attached to the world famous Trent Bridge cricket ground but the buzz from the TV viewers all adds to the friendly atmosphere. Our Larwood Sunday morning tradition is a one I’ll be sticking with for a long time. Sunday lunch perfection.
Ego at The Dorset Arms
8 Compton Acres, West Bridgford
Not what you’d expect to find on a little shopping precinct at all! But once you’re inside this newly refurbished pub/restaurant you’d swear you were on holiday in the Med somewhere. It hasn’t got a ‘pubby feel’, it’s more of a relaxed dining style, but not so pretentious you can’t unwind. In fact, the USP of Ego is their in-house entertainment team for the kids, see – I told you it’s like being in the Med! So while the adults chill out with a glass of red, the kids are having their faces painted or making crafts, close enough so you can see them, far enough so you can have some peace!
And as for the prices, this is definitely the best value Sunday Dinner you will find in Nottingham. It’s only £9.95 for one course, £12.95 for two, and kids get dessert with their £7.95 smaller version.
The actual roast itself is more than appetising. Rather than a rich plate of heavily seasoned food, Ego bring you a meal that feels clean and healthy. Nothing is too salty or steamed in butter, it’s all just fresh and hearty, probably the closest to what I’d cook at home. And the Yorkshire is as big as your head! Now surely that’s a winner in anyones books. My son says it’s the best gravy he has ever had and I personally love that you get 5 or 6 different kinds of veg – and they still retain a bit of crunch, I hate soggy veg.
Ego is the perfect choice for families as kids are so welcome and it’s no problem if they’re up and down from the table. The staff are really friendly and you just know nothing’s a problem for them. That said, it’s not teaming with noisy kids and the whole vibe of a relaxing Sunday lunch isn’t lost in the concept.
Served until 6pm Tel. 0115 9817963
Tom Browns Brasserie
No doubt at some point in your life you’ve bought a new blouse and been to Tom Browns for a celebratory meal of some sort? It’s a special place that usually gets saved for an occasion, after all – who can afford to eat there weekly? But have you tried their roast on a Sunday?? Don’t write it off because it’s not as expensive as you think. Sunday lunch starts at £10.95 and if you’re not wanting a starter or dessert you can keep the bill pretty reasonable.
Despite the modest charge though, I still consider Tom Browns Sunday lunch as a treat because it’s just way too naughty! Those potatoes are so smothered in goose fat your spanx groan with each mouthful, and did your chair just creak? That said, you’ve got to go for an indulgent meal once in a while and this should be the one you choose. The stuffing couldn’t stuff any more flavour in it, the cauliflower cheese would impress the French and the gravy : well, the gravy. Tom Browns always use the finest ingredients and this shows in the joints of meat they bring to the table – high quality produce and always so well cooked. If you were going to take the Queen out for a lunch that epitomises her very own nation then you should book here. I would say ‘well in advance’ too but it’s the Queen – I’m sure they’d pull up a table for Liz.
The starters and desserts are all around £8 and this is where your bill can expand unwittingly but honestly, the lunch is so rich and plentiful I actually think you don’t need a second course.
Open 12 – 5.45pm Tel. 0115 9663642
The Earl Of Chesterfield
Manor Lane, Shelford
Part of what makes Sunday’s so great is the laid back manner in which everything takes place. And what greater place to enjoy it than by taking a leisurely stroll somewhere in the English countryside? But obviously you’ll need that perfect country pub to greet you at the finish line, where the dogs (and horses!) are welcome, along with your wellies, and the ales lined up on the bar is the warmest of welcomes you could receive. Welcome to the Earl of Chesterfield in Shelford.
One of the finest rural pubs in Nottinghamshire, the natives make you feel like neighbours and the bar staff are locally grown teenagers bantering with their adopted village-parents across the bar. You can go posh and book a table in the restaurant or stick to a casual affair in the bar – your choice. And when the weather is agreeable there’s a lovely little beer garden (often with a bouncey castle for the kids) on the side too.
The Sunday roast is what you would expect from Julian Benton, the owner, after years in the industry and a handful of Gastro-style pubs under his belt. The Earl of Chesterfield isn’t a gastro pub though, the food is hearty and wholesome, home-cooked, massive and unpretentious. Just what you need after a good ramble.
If you’re early you’ll get a seat in the bar, otherwise it may be sensible to book.
2 courses : £15.50 Tel: 0115 9332227
Fat Cat, Nottingham
11 Chapel Bar, City Centre
Fat Cat is probably the surprise on the list. A lot of their menu is half price on a Sunday and their traditional roast can be had as a deal – £22.95 for 2 roasts and a bottle of house wine. It’s not a bar we frequent regularly, probably down to the early drinkers that congregate in the bar area, slightly raucous punters wanting an uninterrupted view of the sport on TV. But venture past the bar area and the restaurant is contemporary and modern with cosy booths that would easily seat 6.
But the reason it really made the Top Five – the Sunday Roast. It’s like someone in the kitchen had my tick-box list. I have to tell myself to slow down but it’s so good I might as well inhale it! And there’s no point beseeching Mr MLLH to proceed with ease – his knife and fork are already politely retired and he’s picking at my heavily garlicked chicken escalope. The initial presentation will surely wow you but the actual flavours of everything make you question where you actually are. There’s no way you would associate a noisy sports bar with great food (unless it’s Southbank City) but once you’re past that, you could be in Jamie Oliver’s kitchen eating with Poppy, Buddy and Daisy.
Tel: 0115 9475044
So, there you have my list – all great for their own different reasons and a guaranteed great Sunday lunch whatever your preference. And hey, no washing up!
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