A home-cooked roast with lashings of gravy might be appealing, but London's top restaurants and pubs are set to steal your mum's crown.
We've eaten our way around the capital, taken stock and then eaten some more to provide a new, bigger and better round-up of the capital's finest Sunday lunches.
These are London's roasts with the most — places that offer crispy-outside-fluffy-inside potatoes, puffy great Yorkshires, cracking crackling and the finest veg. That's on top of top quality and richly-flavoured meat, of course.
Endure soggy potatoes tatties and limp greens no more. This list below, written up no particular order, is constantly being updated. Our choice covers all four corners of our city and caters for every budget – tuck in.
The Harwood Arms
No surprise London's only Michelin-starred pub is a dab hand with a Sunday Roast. The Harwood's great strength is that its never let the star go to its head: it's definitely a gastropub – you'd feel odd just popping in for a pint, even if they wouldn't say a word – but it's also just comfortable, unpretentious, and easy to be in. The roast borders on absurd, such are the portions: be starving to get through the three courses. Their beef, 45 day aged, is always on at a £7.50 supplement, is their star; as tender and flavoursome as a piece of particularly good steak. It comes with bone marrow gravy, so good it should be mandatory across the capital, and potatoes that are the best on this list (the meat and other veg are a matter of debate, but the potatoes are not). They've some wonderful wines, too. If it's on, have the game tea, too – technically a drink, but still comfort food. Not cheap at £49.50, but worth it.
Walham Grove, SW6 1QP, harwoodarms.com
The Pig and Butcher
Located a stone’s throw from Angel station, this handsome pub boasts a hearty roast offering, from leg of lamb to suckling pig. Tender meats are topped with a enormous Yorkie pud and lashing of gravy. Not for the faint-hearted, this one is a serious belt-loosening lunch that will leave you feeling wholly satisfied.
80 Liverpool Rd, N1 0QD, thepigandbutcher.co.uk
This place is something of a gem in an unassuming part of town – Clerkenwell is quiet on the weekends – and serves a good, proper roast. It was a no nonsense old boozer once upon a time but has since been refurbished; now, though it keeps all the charm of being the neighbourhood's best pub, it also has a sheen of Scandi cool. They've a decent choice of beers, one that's clearly been thought about, some stonking wine – the house red is a gorgeous little splash of fruit – and staff are knowledgeable but unassuming; if you ask, they've plenty to say, but they're not boring anyone with unedifying lectures on barley and hops.
The roast doesn't have bells and whistles and nothing is plated up to look pretty for Instagram, but what's there is gorgeously comforting. There's minimal choice – two meats on offer, plus one vegetarian or vegan option – but no need for more. Plates come piled high, a huge Yorkshire pudding as steady a tightrope walker on top of pink slices of meat, a bed of greens and potatoes crispy and browned and smelling of rosemary. Better yet, it's the sort of pub you'll want to spend all afternoon in after finishing up.
34 Sekforde St, EC1R 0HA, thesekforde.com
The Game Bird
The Game Bird, like the hotel it sits in, is somewhere to be fond of. Places like this one inspire those sentimental, protective feelings. It is the restaurant incarnate of a champagne cocktail: it is elegant and crisp, it charms and comforts, it takes the edges off. It leaves you nicely light headed. The restaurant manages to serve perfectly classic dishes, all straightforward British cooking, without feeling old fashioned – which is an underappreciated art. The Sunday lunch comes in at £35 for two courses or £40 for three, which seems pricey but actually seems rather reasonable once you're in and among all the loveliness. Roast beef is carved at the table, the roast potatoes are among the best of any on this list and the veg comes properly crunchy, just as it should be. Sure, there could be more choice, but what's here is just splendid.
The Stafford London, 16-18 St James's Place, SW1A 1NJ, thestaffordlondon.com
Adam Handling Chelsea
Adam Handling (not pictured – that's his man Steven Kerr, the group's head chef) has laid on what is very possibly London's most decadent lunch. Not a traditional roast, exactly, it's more a feast of Roman proportions; on the walk through from the bar to the elegant dining room, the open kitchen's counter is a market stall of fine dining; oysters and lobsters sit beside four types of salmon, next to a pink palette of charcuterie, the glistening black of caviar, before the choice of beef Wellington – better, even, than it looks here – or pork belly, haddock, or roasted cauliflower. Puddings follow, suitably indulgent, almost too beautiful to be touched. All of it, down to the last, is gorgeous. At £75 per head, it should be, but frankly, it's worth paying for, a true special occasion lunch. Better yet, there are bottomless drinks should you want them; a respectable 'classic' package of fizz, white and red is £25, while an upgraded 'premium' take is £55. Stick to the classic drinks and, for £100 all in, it's among the best ways to spend a few hours on a Sunday. Somewhat overwhelming, utterly brilliant.
75 Sloane St, Chelsea, SW1X 9SG, adamhandlingchelsea.co.uk
The roast at subterranean Soho chop house Blacklock is extraordinary. Opt for the All-In, which offers a whopping sharing plate of beef, lamb, pork and all the trimmings. Succulent, juicy medium-rare meat is served along with crunchy pork crackling; enormous, chewy Yorkshires; exemplary, ultra-crispy duck fat roasties; a helping of assorted seasonal veg; and a large boat of deep-flavoured bone marrow gravy. Come hungry to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer generosity of it all — this roast is up there with London’s very, very best.
24 Great Windmill St, W1D 7LG, theblacklock.com
Mayfair institution the Guinea is a favourite of the Standard. Firstly, it serves one of the best pints of Guinness in London – unquestionably important – and secondly, behind the charming, boozer-ish front, is a wonderful steak restaurant. It’s the beef which you must come for. The chateaubriand, for a minimum of two, comes with duck fat roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, honey-glazed baby carrots, baby parsnips and kale along with optional bacon. It is moist, tender, intensely flavoured and a seductive deep pink colour. There have been no waterbaths or fancy techniques involved, either — this is roast beef cooked as it always has been, only far better than it usually is.
30 Bruton Pl, W1J 6NL, theguinea.co.uk
The Dining Room at The Goring
It seemed a shame for the Goring, the grandest of London's grand hotels, that chef Shay Cooper left (drawn into the promised glamour of revived celebrity haunt, Julie's). Cooper has an obvious talent and clear feeling for his food, so heading back to the Dining Room came with a touch of trepidation. No need to worry: Richard Galli, stepping up from head chef to executive chef, has blossomed. The food is perhaps finer than it's ever been; classically British, precise but loved. The rack of lamb, served with sweetbread, aubergine and black tea – pictured – was a favourite, not merely enjoyed but adored. Before that, Eggs Drumkilbo, which sees lobster, quail's egg, salad and sherry jelly layered together, made for a fresh, bright start, and some will get a kick from knowing it was the Queen Mother's favourite dish, and served at the wedding breakfast of Princess Margaret. The Dining Room does other roasts, too, beef and chicken and, on our visit, a beautifully flavoured piece of grouse. Seafood is there as well, including a lobster omelette. Three courses come in at £58.
Follow their recommendations on the wine; we drank plenty of it and found their cellar, well, stellar. Oh, and service is faultless; everyone is a sweetheart here. Owner Jeremy Goring knows what he's doing; in four years of coming here, we've never eaten better.
15 Beeston Pl, SW1W 0JW, thegoring.com
Simpson's In The Strand
God bless Simpsons. Granted, at one point it had almost lost its way – the carving trolley was "tarnished and dull like old medals in a drawer" – but it has since been rescued. Even if the 2017 refurbishment was initially a little overenthusiastic, now Simpsons has settled into its groove and, under the watchful eye of the Savoy's director of restaurants, Anne Lomas, and with the talent of Master Cook Matthaios Tsistrakis in the kitchen, it's serving the food it's always been supposed to. This roast is exceptional: not merely very lovely or charming or any of that – it's downright, eye-rolling, hands-clutching-the-table-cloth exceptional. The kind where you tell your guest to zip it for a moment because the food deserves full attention.
The aged beef is a thing of beauty, all sorts of colours; at some points its Lady Penelope's Rolls Royce, elsewhere its red like Dorothy's homebound slippers. It is gorgeously flavoured; tender, yes, but fortunately not in that wobbly, jelly-like way which is such a turn-off. The roasts that come with it, cooked in dripping, are absolutely the one. The other choice comes from a Welsh lady called Daphne who calls up the restaurant to see what's needed every week. This saddle of lamb is a beautiful thing, especially served three ways as it is, and the sharp mint sauce it comes with has all the reviving power of smelling salts, or cocaine. Have it with a glass of the surprisingly gorgeous Hush Heath Manoir pinot noir – it's beautifully good for a still English red. All of this come very highly recommended; it is, however, damned expensive. For something a little more relaxed, try their £15 roast beef sandwich, pictured, which is plenty of fun and served upstairs in the Knights Bar.
100 Strand, WC2R 0EW, simpsonsinthestrand.co.uk
The Swan at Shakespeare's Globe
Nothing quite beats the old English classics at this old-English pub, which sits looking out over the Thames. There’s two to choose from, pork loin with a baked apple sauce or a sirloin of aged Ayrshire beef, both served with drool-inducing trimmings. The Swan, which is lucky to count the talented Allan Pickett as its head chef, also has a stellar selection of quintessentially British puds for the perfect closing act, including a baked blackberry tart.
21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT, swanlondon.co.uk
This neighbourhood spot has a charming old-English feel to it. The menu boasts three roast offerings (beef, pork and nut) as well as two different kinds for sharing; a 12 hour braised lamb shoulder and a whole roasted chicken, both very reasonably priced. Every dish is served with rich spring greens and a indulgent cauliflower cheese.
101 Fortess Rd, NW5 1AG, junctiontavern.co.uk
Kerridge's Bar & Grill
Londoners, rejoice – you no longer need to take a trip down the Thames to try Tom Kerridge’s masterful British fare. The two Michelin-starred Marlow pub owner has set up shop in the capital, with Kerridge’s Bar & Grill doing drool-worthy things to Sundays at the swanky Corinthia Hotel. Meats are fired up on an open rotisserie, twisting tantalisingly across the room – but be sure to save room for the exceptional extras. The roasted veggies are cooked in the rotisserie too, collecting meaty juices and coming up sublime. Beef is served with a Yorkshire stuffed with gravy-soaked pork mince, and pork comes with a thick slice of terrine-like Boudin Blanc sausage. Order the garlic-laced hispi cabbage on the side, finish up with the superlative brown butter tart, and enjoy it all with some sommelier selected wines.
10 Northumberland Ave, WC2N 5AE, kerridgesbarandgrill.co.uk
Meat and fire are the specialities of this gastropub, which makes the Sunday roasts a safe bet. The traditional options are given twists that really make them stand out – like an option of pork ribeye served alongside pulled smoked pork shoulder, or a slow-smoked lamb shoulder. The supreme beef dripping roast potatoes are also noteworthy.
63-69 Canonbury Rd, N1 2DG, smokehouseislington.co.uk
Mark Hix’s Hixter restaurants major in meat, and the Sunday serves are among their best. As with the usual menu, the choice is between chicken or beef. The former comes as a half (leg and foot still attached) complete with stuffing and the latter as a large slab of pink-centred sirloin; both are expertly cooked. Add fluffy roast potatoes, sizeable Yorkshires and your own mini-jug of rich gravy and you’re on to a winner, especially if you opt for the free flowing red wine (an additional £25). And, as a bonus, kids under 10 eat for free.
16 Great Guildford St, SE1 0HS, hixrestaurants.co.uk
Tucked in between Hackney Central station and buzzy Mare Street, this Nordic-inspired bar and restaurant is just as good on a Sunday afternoon as the night before. Expect hearty portions, especially when it comes to the half chicken, but you’ll also get your money’s worth with the bavette roast beef. Both come with roasties cooked in duck fat, a Yorkshire pudding, parsnips, carrots and crunchy, buttery greens, all slathered in gravy. As an added bonus, you can get two Bloody Marys for £9 on Sundays – as spicy as you can handle.
1A Amhurst Road, Hackney, E8 1LL, oslohackney.com
You might think that Hawksmoor is all about the steak, but the clever team can whip up a mightily impressive roast dinner, too. As you might have guessed, it’s all about the beef. While it’s the top notch meat that really makes it a winner, a gutsy onion and bone marrow gravy, tip-top tatties roasted in duck fat and pleasantly chewy Yorkshires all have a role to play.
Across London, thehawksmoor.com
Somewhere that is named after the Great British tradition of a roast dinner really ought to do one well, and thankfully Roast does. Though you’ll find an exemplary roast whatever your meat of choice, the rare, thinly sliced (but not meanly portioned) sirloin of beef is worthy of particular praise. Just bear in mind that it’s a restaurant not a pub – with both atmosphere and prices to match.
Stoney Street, SE1 1TL, roast-restaurant.com
Hack & Hop
This City pub pairs craft beers galore with a very good Sunday Roast. If you’re in a group, the best way to sample it is by opting for the Feast Special, for three to four people. It features pork belly (impressively crunchy crackling), beef (served medium-rare and richly-flavoured), chicken (moist-fleshed and rubbed with lemon and thyme), a scotch egg, four fluffy Yorkshires, sweet potato mash, buttery greens, an abundance of excellent fluffy and crisp roasties, and plenty of rich red wine gravy.
35 Whitefriars St, EC4Y 8BH, thehackandhop.com
This smart Hackney Road spot might look like a boozer from the outside, but hasn't been one for quite some while. Thankfully it still retains a fair whack of character. Its roasts, which have long been a highlight, haven’t changed too much either – in fact, they may have got even better. Gutsy gravy and crispy roasties are high points, along with some well-aged beef that’s best enjoyed Barbie pink.
254 Hackney Rd, E2 7SJ, marksmanpublichouse.com
Sitting in a rather off-the-beaten-track location in the shadow of Canary Wharf, The Gun is a real find. Alongside its impressive waterside views and atmospheric terraces, this Fuller's Kitchen serves some splendid Sunday roasts. A whole free-range chicken for two to share is a highlight, and comes with pigs in blankets, Yorkshire puddings and cauliflower gratin. Besides, it's got a cracking view out over the Thames.
27 Coldharbour, E14 9NS, thegundocklands.com
Old Red Cow
The meaty main components at this Smithfield venue come from right across the road, and the kitchen clearly knows how to bring out the best in it – as they do the seasonal veg and accompaniments. Of all London’s top roast spots, this is the one where you’ll find the best selection of beer. You find fewer than 15 on tap at any time and there are plenty more bottles knocking around, too.
71 Long Ln, EC1A 9EJ, theoldredcow.com
Chef Jesse Dunford Wood has the helm at this Kensal Green gastropub, and that’s a very good thing indeed. Choose from sirloin of beef with fresh horseradish, chicken breast with bread sauce, or pork with apple sauce. Or opt for Dick Whittington's Knap Sack Chicken (which is salt-crusted) to share. The Yorkshires are plump and the gravy plentiful. This is fun, inventive cooking but it stays true to tradition.
5 Regent St, NW10 5LG, parlourkensal.com
The Duke of Cambridge
Run by veg-box stars Riverford, this is the UK’s first certified organic pub. You can really taste how top-notch the produce is here, from the succulent meat to the delicately-cooked veg. Rest assured it’s all as seasonal as can be.
30 St Peter's St, N1 8JT, dukeorganic.co.uk
The Dean Swift
Set just back from the river near Tower Bridge, this is a proper pub with a very accomplished kitchen rather than an out-and-out gastropub.Slow-cooked beef that makes the most of (rather than steering away from) the full-flavoured fatty parts is a particular triumph. An impressive array of both beers and board games complete the Sunday afternoon package.
10 Gainsford St, SE1 2NE, thedeanswift.com
The Three Stags
The kitchen operates to a strong eco ethos at this local pub near Lambeth North station. This means that not only can you can be sure of the meat’s provenance, but that much of the veg is locally sourced too – including some grown on a plot next door. If you’re dining in a group, try and reserve the semi-private Chaplin’s Corner at the far end of the pub, so-called because this is where Charlie Chaplin’s father used to sit drinking. Round off your roast with a pudding featuring honey made from the pub’s own rooftop hive.
67-69 Kennington Rd, SE1 7PZ, thethreestags.london
The Canton Arms
It may have been the foie gras toasties that made this south Lambeth pub famous, but the roasts deserve a spot in the limelight too. The changing selection will often feature hunks of game, while a tendency towards slow cooking means those who like their meat tender are in luck.
177 S Lambeth Rd, SW8 1XP, cantonarms.com
The Spaniard’s Inn
One of London’s oldest pubs, immortalised by Dickens in The Pickwick Papers, and quite possibly haunted – there’s a lot going on at this heathside boozer. But none of these things should distract from the roasts, which are well worth braving any ghouls for. A roast rib eye beef and a loin pork with supremely crisp crackling take equal top billing, while a whole chicken with bacon and sage stuffing is a great option for sharers. Sides such as cauliflower cheese and seasonal vegetable to share at the table are also well received.
Spaniards Rd, NW3 7JJ, thespaniardshampstead.co.uk
The Jugged Hare
Sunday roasts are cooked on the rotisserie at this meat and game-focused City pub, they even have a countdown on their website, showing when game season ends. Choose from whole or half chickens, roast legs of mutton or aged rump of beef. Duck fat roasties are wonderfully crisp-coated, while the rotisserie gravy (made as the varying meats drip their juices while cooking) has to be among the best in London.
49 Chiswell St, EC1Y 4SA, thejuggedhare.com
Jones & Sons
Contrary to its minimalist layout, this Dalston bar and restaurant serves an impressively homely roast. Big portions of big-flavour meat, chewy Yorkshires, crisp potatoes, homemade horseradish sauce and forthcoming gravy top-ups all add to the appeal.
3 Gillett St, N16 8JH, jonesandsonsdalston.com
The Anchor & Hope
This Waterloo longtimer was an early adopter of gastropub culture and remains one of the best food pubs in the capital despite growing competition. Sunday lunch options include plenty other than traditional roasts – from pig’s cheeks and chips to a three cheese soufflé – but it’s hard to beat the classics. A particular signature of the menu is the range of sharing plates and joints to carve at the table, such as a recently served seven-hour lamb shoulder with gratin dauphinois for three.
36 The Cut, SE1 8LP, anchorandhopepub.co.uk