Best Sunday roasts in London, from the Camberwell Arms to Temper Soho

·15-min read
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(Press handout)

Like fish and chips and a full English, the Sunday roast is one of Britain’s great gifts to global gastronomy. Less a meal and more of a state of mind, in fact, and so essential to our sense of collective identity that the French call us ‘les rosbifs’. (Can you imagine any other country wearing a food stuff as a badge of honour? Rule —or should we say roast? — Britannia!)

Another UK icon, the local pub, is the natural home of the Sunday roast, though anyone who has sat through a roast gone wrong will be familiar with a blow to national pride as crushing as England losing on penalties.

So read on for London’s roasts with the most — places that offer crispy-outside-fluffy-inside potatoes, puffy great Yorkshires, cracking crackling and the finest veg. Naturally, that’s on top of top quality and richly flavoured meat, and even worthy alternatives for vegetarians and fish eaters.

Of course, one is just as likely to find Sunday roast done well in a proper restaurant as a pub, albeit washed down with wine (sometimes English) rather than beer. Endure soggy tatties and limp greens no more. This list below, written in no particular order, covers all four corners of the capital and caters for every budget — tuck in.

Corinthia London

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(Press handout)

Sunday lunchers are spoilt for choice at this celeb-friendly hotel down by Embankment. The roasts in Kerridge’s Bar & Grill come with the comfort-food twists one would expect from Tom Kerridge — the Yorkshire puds with the Himalayan salt-aged rib-eye are stuffed with brisket, there’s malt-vinegar ketchup with the roasted rack of Wiltshire lamb and clotted cream mash with the pig’s cheek pie — served up for steep prices that befit one of the country’s most famous chefs in bed with a luxury London hotel. The smart money, though, heads across the lobby to the Northall restaurant, which not only has huge windows looking towards the river but £69 buys three courses of roast chicken or beef with all the trimmings, starters of duck liver terrine and leek strozzaperetti and, dare we say it, the best crêpes Suzette in the country (it’s the chunky candied citrus that is the clincher). Either way, possibly the most civilised way to spend Sunday in the West End.

Whitehall Place, SW1A 2BD, corinthia.com/london

The Pig and Butcher

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(Handout)

Despite the rather grim name, The Pig and Butcher is a light-filled Angel gastropub with a cheery farmhouse kitchen-style interior and a commitment to sourcing not only rare-breed pig but beef and lamb too, and butchering the carcasses on site. Cumbrian Herdwick hogget leg, Tamworth pork loin and salt-aged Yorkshire sirloin come with beef-dripping roasties, Yorkshires, greens and cauliflower cheese. The dishes to share, though, are even better: Label Anglais chicken crown with wild garlic and brioche stuffing, and Daphne’s Welsh lamb shoulder with puffed spelt and balsamic glaze. The rest of the menu displays the same attention to top-notch British ingredients: cured Cornish mackerel with peas to start, a buttermilk pudding with Kentish strawberries and a cracking British cheeseboard. To drink, there are wines from small-scale, family-owned producers and a terrific list of food-friendly European beer by the bottle.

80 Liverpool Road, N1 0QD, thepigandbutcher.co.uk

Marksman

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(Handout)

The key to a knockout Sunday roast is in all the details and everything at this east London landmark is bang on target. The bread is black treacle and caraway sourdough (with cultured butter to slather on), the beef is Hereford rump and the pork is Tamworth belly and loin. The whole chicken to share, meanwhile, comes with a roast tomato salad and the menu is stuffed with no end of delicious-sounding things: starters of duck liver parfait and crab and brown shrimp cocktail to start, afters of brown butter and honey tart or hot chocolate pudding and toffee sauce and, best of all, a curried lamb bun with salt-lime yoghurt to snack on while deciding what else to eat. Three courses clock in at £40; you can bring your dog to eat in the handsome ground-floor pub; the smart dining room upstairs, however, is a pooch-free zone.

254 Hackney Road, E2 7SJ, marksmanpublichouse.com

The Camberwell Arms

The Camberwell Arms is owned by the same people behind rooftop hipster heaven Frank’s in Peckham but don’t let that put you off: this is a neighbourhood pub where the cool factor comes with a warm welcome. Many restaurants talk about serving food family-style, but Sunday lunch at the Camberwell is the real deal, with all the roasts designed for the table to share. That might mean half a spit-roast chicken with braised spinach and garlic yoghurt, or roast pork belly with shaved white cabbage, pickled rhubarb and buttermilk, both designed for two; add a third guest and there’s a mammoth overnight braised lamb with braised escarole, raisins, almond and mint, though the best way to approach the food here is to go as a gang and divvy up various bits of meat and poultry around the table, and why not throw in a beef and bone-marrow pie for good measure? After all that richness, puds come with a welcome sharp edge: blood orange and almond galette with crème fraîche, say, or spiced rhubarb cake and fool.

65 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR, thecamberwellarms.co.uk

The Harwood Arms

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(@lateef.photography)

London’s only Michelin-starred gastropub (and sibling to the fine-dining Ledbury) first came to fame in the noughties for its now-legendary venison Scotch eggs, which gives as good indication as any that, at heart, The Harwood Arms is still a backstreet Fulham boozer, even if the three-course Sunday lunch (£65) now requires booking a couple of months in advance. Still, the best things in life are worth waiting for, and this is arguably London’s best Sunday lunch, offering up big portions of big flavours. Kick off with a round of Scotch eggs while deciding what else to eat: a Spenwood cheese tart to start, then sirloin of belted Galloway with horseradish cream and a wobbly custard flan to finish would be a good introduction. Those lucky enough to become regulars might broaden the repertoire with sea bream tartare, slow-cooked lamb shoulder and blood orange trifle. Game specials in autumn are a must, while venison and pork come from owner Brett Graham’s farm.

Walham Grove, SW6 1QP, harwoodarms.com

Fallow

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Fallow is owned by Jack Croft and Will Murray, two chefs who met on the veg station at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal where they bonded over a shared passion for sustainability, which extends to using paper menus made from harvested algae. For Sunday lunch, the roast beef is rump from retired dairy cow, served with a vast Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, glazed carrots, red cabbage, greens and gravy; elsewhere there’s Middle White pork, and smoked leeks with Bermondsey Hard Pressed cheese for vegetarians, though whatever you eat, don’t leave out an unmissable side order of pommes boulangère, like a potato millefeuille with pools of beef stock seeping out of the wafer-thin layers of spud. Eating with a clear conscience doesn’t come cheap, but no one came to St James’s in search of bargain, and the dining room is a bobby dazzler, all glossy surfaces and green marble illuminated by Tom Dixon lighting.

2 St James’s Market, SW1Y 4RP, fallowrestaurant.com

Bull & Last

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Highgate’s best boozer (actually down the road by Parliament Hill Fields) is the perfect advert for a London Sunday, where a walk over the Heath from Hampstead can be followed by a mammoth lunch as long as you’ve had the foresight to book ahead. Beef comes as roast Shorthorn rib, there’s lamb rump with mint relish, roast ricotta-stuffed courgette for the veggies and beer-battered haddock with triple-cooked chips for the pescatarians. Naturally, the roasts come with all the trimmings of Yorkshires, roasties and greens; go easy on the side orders (cauliflower cheese) to have any hope of fitting in starters (buttermilk fried chicken) and desserts (sticky banana pudding). To drink, there are cask ales, classic cocktails and a snappy European wine list; if Sunday lunch somehow turns into last orders, it’s worth knowing that there are six bedrooms upstairs to snooze it all off in, with the prospect of washing away the Monday blues with a bracing dip in Highgate Ponds.

168 Highgate Road, NW5 1QS, thebullandlast.co.uk

The Quality Chop House

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(Handout)

Roasts not chops are the name of the game on Sundays at this historic Clerkenwell dining room, where the Grade II-listed wooden booths force diners to sit up and take notice of the food in front of them – which more than merits attention. The spin-off butchers next door is a guarantor of the quality of the meat: Aberdeen Angus rump and Mangalitza pork collar, plus Swaledale lamb shoulder and Aberdeen Angus bone-in sirloin to share. The trimmings show no less thought: roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, of course, but also savoy cabbage with smoked butter, courgettes with green sauce and leafy carrots with sunflower seeds. Starters and desserts are less British in inspiration – lamb with capers, ajo blanco and anchovy; Capezzana olive-oil ice cream – while the globetrotting wine list ranges from house Côtes de Gascogne for £31 to a big-money ‘Cellar List’ of hard-to-find bottles from prestigious producers.

88-94 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3EA, thequalitychophouse.com

Canton Arms

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On an unlovely stretch of A road between Vauxhall and Stockwell, the Canton Arms is part of a crack team of gastropubs that also includes The Clarence Tavern in Stoke Newington, Waterloo’s Anchor and Hope and the Magdalen Arms in Oxford. Each is famous for its Sunday lunch, but the Canton wins by a whisker for being the pub which still feels closest to a local boozer, albeit one serving a menu that is modern British in the best sense, exposing native ingredients to overseas influences to delicious effect. Roast Dexter beef comes with green beans, roasties and watercress but this is somewhere that proves that sharing is caring, whether half a pot-roast Yorkshire chicken with white beans, radish, baby gem and aioli or the showstopper of salt-marsh lamb shoulder with potato and olive-oil gratin, cooked for seven hours to fall-off-the-bone softness for four to fight over.

177 South Lambeth Road, SW8 1XP, cantonarms.com

Rabbit

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From the trio of Gladwin brothers, whose family own not only a Sussex farm but Nutbourne Vineyards, Rabbit’s rus in urbe fantasy extends further than furniture fashioned out of fallen oak trees sawn up after a storm by the siblings. Beef sirloin comes from the family farm or there’s confit Saddleback pork belly, neither exorbitantly priced for Chelsea, with jus made using stocks from the in-house butchery. A celeriac steak with lovage pesto, redolent of the herb garden and vegetable patch, is one of several intriguing meat-free options and, while the kitchen marches to the beat of the sustainable and zero-waste drum, the witty likes of mushroom marmite éclairs with egg confit suggest the chefs don’t bang on about it. British ingredients extend to making a Bloody Mary with vodka from the Adnams brewery on the Suffolk coast and, of course, Nutbourne wines: try a glass of sparking Nutty Brut as an intro to English fizz.

172 Kings Road, SW3 4UP, rabbit-restaurant.com

Beaufort House

A Sunday roast, but make it Chelsea. Ask for a table in the window at King’s Road institution Beaufort House and settle in for a healthy dose of people-watching with your roast and rioja. Choose from two meat options – a roasted prime strip loin with horseradish cream and a red wine jus, or corn fed chicken ballotine with thyme and onion stuffing and burnt lemon gravy. Both are served with crispy roast potatoes, honey roasted chantenay carrots, cauliflower cheese and a gigantic puffy Yorkshire pud. The kitchen serves Sunday roasts until it sells out, so don’t hang around.

354 Kings Road, SW3 5UZ, beauforthousechelsea.co.uk

The Windmill, Clapham

Perfect for a post-Sunday stroll on Clapham Common. The Windmill’s new-look dining room features cosy blue velvet sofa-style booths and the chance of a visit from the pub’s resident dog, Max, if you’re really lucky. Choose from a rump of beef with slow-braised ox cheek; pork belly with pigs in blankets and pork and cranberry stuffing; crown of English turkey also with pigs in blankets; or a vegan salt-baked celeriac with wild mushrooms, spinach and chestnuts. Opt for the sharing roast with a choice of Ginger Pig prime cuts if you fancy a V-day upgrade.

Clapham Common South Side, SW4, windmillclapham.co.uk

Temper Soho

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(Handout)

Heading down into a Soho basement might not seem like the most appealing prospect on a Sunday daytime but the cooking at Temper is well worth forgoing daylight for. An open kitchen sends out flame-licked hunks of barbecued meat, with roast aged beef, pulled lamb shoulder, pork belly and baby chicken arriving at the table smokier than a 20-a-day-habit; be prepared to leave Temper smelling like you’ve been involved in a house fire in which the family pets didn’t survive. Can’t decide what to eat? The three-beast feast to share brings aged roast beef, roast pork and smoked lamb shoulder. Fish eaters and veggies get wood-roasted sea bass and butternut squash mole respectively, there are deep-dish cookies and peanut chocolate tarts to finish, while a strong Mexican accent comes out in tacos and nachos to snack on and a trio of margaritas. And if natural light is required, ask for a table under the skylights up to the pavement.

25 Broadwick Street, W1F 0DF, temperrestaurant.com

The Drapers Arms

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A classic Islington gastropub from the New Labour noughties, The Drapers Arms is testament to the timeless qualities of artful simplicity (plain wooden tables, church-hall chairs) married to high-end detailing such as twinkly chandeliers and smart checkerboard floors. Log-burning stoves keep things cosy in winter and there’s a small courtyard garden for summer which takes the pub’s atmosphere of low-key chic outside. Roast pork belly, roast lamb loin chops and rare roast 48-day aged sirloin come with the classic accompaniments, while sharing roasts (whole chicken, forerib of beef, seven-hour shoulder of lamb) are perfect for lazy singletons to treat those friends who always have them round for dinner without having to cook in return. Veggies get Med-accented artichokes barigoule or baked aubergine, there are decent fish and seafood options too, while a wine list assembled with a connoisseur’s eye has almost 20 bottles by the carafe to stop the start of the week being a write-off.

44 Barnsbury Street, N1 1ER, thedrapersarms.com

The Princess of Shoreditch

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A sibling of Islington’s Pig and Butcher, The Princess of Shoreditch is a less blood-and-guts, more la-di-da affair, with Great British Menu finalist Ruth Hansom sending out refined plates in both the ground-floor pub and first-floor dining room (reached via a cast-iron spiral staircase that should not be attempted after serious investigation of the well-priced, off-the-beaten track wine list). Stuffed Norfolk Black chicken is served with sourdough bread sauce, Yorkshire Dales sirloin of beef with horseradish sauce and salt-aged pork belly with apple sauce and everything, naturally, comes with roasties, seasonal veg and a fluffy Yorkshire. Bookend your roast with goat’s curd and Isle of Wight tomato salad, and caramelised banana soufflé. Three courses for £39 is great value for cooking of this quality in smart surrounds that will make you forget you’re in Shoreditch.

76-78 Paul Street, EC2A 4NE, theprincessofshoreditch.com

The Pig’s Head, Clapham

Planet-friendly potatoes and Yorkshire puddings as big as your head, in a farmhouse-style dining room right in the heart of Clapham Old Town. 50 per cent of the menu at The Pig’s Head is plant-based and every aspect has been designed with the environment in mind, from sustainably-spirited cocktails to meat from its on-site butchery (there’s even eco-friendly loo-roll in the bathrooms). Expect cosy Soho House-style interiors and order the mushroom wellington if you fancy a (generously-sized) meat-free option. Staff will offer you the option of taking your leftovers home if you can’t finish it to minimise waste.

87 Rectory Grove, SW4, thepigshead.com

The Bailiwick

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(STUDIO 1208)

Catching the tube to Richmond then the train a couple of stops further to Egham is worth an hour of anyone’s time to reach this picture-perfect pub (complete with suntrap terrace) squirreled down a lane by Windsor Great Park. Steven Ellis worked under Clare Smyth at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and the three-Michelin-starred chef is such a fan of Ellis’s cooking that she brought her Core team here for a staff jolly (they loved it). Smyth really ought to have come on a Sunday, though, when there’s a knockout rib of beef, thick-cut in velvety pink slabs and served with pillowy Yorkshire puds, crisp roasties and a perfect cauliflower cheese; elsewhere are more cheffy things like pig’s trotter terrine and fancy desserts made by Ellis’ pastry-chef wife Ami: try the superb lemon parfait, glazed with lemon jelly made from the lemon skins and juice. To drink, there is Windsor Great Park sparkling wine and Bailiwick Great Park Ale brewed with hops growing over the park wall.

Wick Road, Englefield Green, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0HN, thebailiwick.co.uk

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