Confession time: Cat has never cooked a roast dinner. Nigh-on twenty years as a vegetarian – followed by an astonishing volte-face in 2003 leading her to eat (things with) faces – plus many years as a food critic experiencing other peoples’ cooking, means that she’s never bothered to learn how. Matt’s own abilities are honed on his annual attempt at Christmas dinner. As a result, for the last few years we have eaten out on the Saviour’s Day – as God intended.
So while the world shakes out its pinny and domestic kitchens see more action than ever before thanks to the scourge of COVID-19, we just dream of baked meat and crispy halved potatoes… cooked by somebody else.
Our dreams became reality with a home delivery roast from the White Lion’s kitchen to our dining table. We could have enjoyed many of the Arreton inn’s traditional dishes. It’s probably been an age since any of us read a pub menu so let us whet your appetite with talk of the Lion’s gammon steak with chips and all the usual gubbins plus pineapple; steak-and-ale pie; cod, chips and peas; and the rather leftfield East End pie, mash and eel liquor. But, despite these tempting pub grub standards, we plumped for Sunday roast.
The ordering process was businesslike to the point of taciturnity, but the delivery was cheery and timely. Out of the paper bags, we withdrew eleven packets and parcels. With a good degree of foresight and consideration the Yorkshire puddings were not nestled in the foil trays with the rest of the main courses, but wrapped up separately to avoid going soggy on their twenty minute journey to Ryde.
Roast chicken £11.75
Roast beef £11.75
Toffee apple crumble £5.50
A quick ping in the microwave helped bring the dinners up to temperature after their encounter on the doorstep with the second Beast from the East. Cat’s half roast chicken could barely be contained by her plate, so perhaps if the advertised stuffing ball had been included there wouldn’t have been room for it anyway. No matter, there was more than plenty. Oodles of vegetables were present; brassicas, and a decent fistful of whole baby carrots, plus around half a dozen of the most delicious roast potatoes. Pouring reheated gravy over the succulent chicken, Cat was transported back to good times at her own childhood lunch table.
Roast beef was Matt’s choice, and a choice he was glad to have made. Alongside the same generous allowance of fresh veg, he had thick-sliced beef slathered in hot gravy, and even a pot of horseradish. He rapidly cleared his plate and looked longingly across the table.
The whole half bird was too much for Cat, so she plucked its uneaten meat; saving it to create a coronation chicken butty the next day. Trencherman Matt wasn’t going to let any of these particularly excellent spuds be recycled into bubble and squeak though, and he enjoyed them as seconds with the last of the gravy.
Salted caramel has become established a flavour on pub dessert menus as Black Forest gateau used to be. It’s Cat’s go-to, whether as ice cream, uncooked cookie dough (we are looking at you Pizza Hut) or – as at the White Lion – cheesecake. It turned out to be salted caramel AND chocolate – bonus! Drizzled with single cream (provided) and a dollop of creme fraiche from our fridge, the sweet pudding was as intense as you’d expect, with a welcome smooth texture and caramelly swirls. Plus there were two slices; yet another contribution towards that leftovers lunch the following day.
Matt kept strictly to the traditional Sunday roast canon and tucked into a solid apple crumble, easily reheated, bursting with real apple chunks and sweet crumble with a hint of toffee flavour. Of course, this was all smothered with a ration of hot and creamy custard. Comfort food as it’s meant to be served.
Much like the Hungry Bear‘s takeaway roast, the White Lion served us epic amounts of food at a competitive price which included delivery. The meal gave us an authentic pub Sunday lunch feeling – insofar as this can be recreated in the home. Stand-out elements were the roast potatoes, and the massive chicken portion.
We look forward to a time when we can go for a walk somewhere other than our neighbourhood and arrive red-cheeked and hungry at a pub, warming ourselves by the bar’s open fire and anticipating the arrival of a piping hot lunch, maybe with a pint of ale. But until then we can call on the services of the White Lion for a satisfying slap-up lockdown Sunday roast experience.
This is the full-length version of the review first published in the Isle of Wight County Press.