Raise your hands, who likes roast dinners?! As 95% of the UK raise their hands and wave eagerly, crying out “Me, me, me!”, drool escaping down the side of their quivering jowls. The other 5% are stared at with utter bewilderment – who could not like a big ol’ Sunday roast with all the trimmings? Well, a few of us.
I’m not a hater of roast dinners, by any means. I’m in the rare 1.5% of Brits who aren’t too bothered, but just every so often, a really, really decent roast with tons of veg and good quality meat would actually do rather nicely, thank you very much. So before you oust me, wrongly branded as one of the 3.5% who are true Roast Haters, I do partake in the Sunday tradition from time to time and enjoy it. Maybe once every three or four months. And undoubtedly at Christmas. But Christmas dinner is a whole other sub-genre of Big Dinners, so we’ll leave that one there for now.
The past weekend was one of said occasions, having promised during the week to treat us (me and the hubby) to a pub roast. It turns out to have been one of the best ideas I’d had all week. Presenting to you……
The Poet’s Smoke and Ale House’s Roast Dinners!
They honestly were The Business. Our plates were literally piled high with heaps of delicious vegetables, succulent meat, roast potatoes and a very proud-looking Yorkshire pudding. Honestly, this roast gets points for being the tallest Sunday lunch I’ve ever been presented with. I wonder if there are any pubs that go as far as to present roast dinners taller than they are wide…
The Poet’s Smoke and Ale House is a pub that we’ve frequented a good handful of times, both for drinks and eats, so we already knew the standard would be pretty decent. During the week the pub specialises in American-style grub, with burgers aplenty, smoked ribs, smoked pulled pork, smoked half-chickens, meat platters, nachos, chilli dogs, the works. (They do some very good quality vegetarian fare too amongst the mighty meaty menu.)
So yeah, they smoke a lot of their food. I just LOVE smokey flavours, so there was a good chance I’d be having something smoked for my roast dinner. Eagerly eyeing up the Sunday specials, one thing caught my attention: smoked leg of lamb. Now, I’m actually not a big lamb fan, always deeming the flavour too farmy, the meat too greasy, and just generally not my thing – most of my lamb-tasting experiences have consisted of plain grilled cutlets which gives you the full whiffy fatty lamby farminess. But I’m keen to change my view and try different incarnations of the meat to see whether I can find a lamb dish that excites my palette. The smoked lamb got my palette, taste buds, and stomach so excited that they all did a joyful, greedy dance as I hoovered up those tender slices of meat. It wasn’t greasy, didn’t have that pungent strong farm-like taste that I’m so offended by, oh no – the lamb was smooth and succulent, the smokey flavour ran through the meat without being overpowering, it was deliciously savoury, not too rich, and without a doubt the best lamb I’ve ever eaten. Woohoo for taking a food risk!
My partner in delicious crime chose to have the 14hr smoked grain fed Australian brisket – this also did not disappoint. More subtle in its smokiness than my lamb, the beef was rich in flavour and again beautifully smooth and fall-apart tender. However, we both felt that the lamb won the battle of the tastebuds. Both dishes were awash with a rich not-too-thick-or-too-thin gravy, perfect for Yorkshire pud swirling and roast potato sponging. The roast potatoes had a thick crisp crust and fluffy centre to boot (I have a confession here, I’m not big on roast potatoes…. *Gasp!* Aaaaargh *Someone faints, someone else fetches the Emergency Extra Strong Tea to whiff under them and bring them back* …They’re just not my thing. Give me mash any day over roasties. Please don’t judge me!) – my husband appreciated the roasties at least. The Yorkshire pudding was gorgeously puffy with crisp edges, yet also had decent substance and a lovely pancake flavour to it.
And the veg. Oh the veg! I thought my greens, purples and oranges would never end, there were so many! A superior selection of vegetables is something that I really look for in a roast dinner, and The Poet’s did not fail to perform: a buried treasure of cooked red cabbage, blanched kale, roasted/sautéed carrots, mashed swede and chunks of roasted beetroot were hidden beneath the swathes of meat and tide of gravy, brightening up our plates and nourishing our bellies. They all tasted wonderfully fresh, each carrying with it its own earthy or sweet or strong individual flavour (I’ve experienced some awful roast dinners before where all the veg tastes like the same watery mush, I knew we’d be safe from such vegetable tragedy here). Having them all cooked differently too provided the dish with some nice variation – though perhaps the carrots could have been cooked a fraction less. I like a little bite to my orange roots. Still, it was a terrific selection and we hungrily devoured the lot.
By the end of our meal, we were two very satisfied diners. Two pints of a local ale (GoldBier by Harvey’s of Lewes) and a massive plate of food down and I was pretty much done. I know that the desserts are awesome at The Poet’s too, but I couldn’t face shovelling a whole load more calories down my throat. Somehow, my husband could! Mississippi Mud Pie was ordered after much dithering over the many superb sounding sweets (I would have plumped for the Pecan Pie – next time, I guess!). To quote the man himself, “It’s like a brownie on steroids!” came the review of said gooey, chocolatey dessert, which came served with a scoop of chocolate ice cream.
A successful Sunday roast it was indeed! I do enjoy The Poet’s, both its food and the pub itself. The décor is quite trendy, full of wooden furnishings – some tastefully painted in blues and creams – with some quirky hangings and mirrors adorning the walls and plenty of light to illuminate the heaving bar and brighten up the space. The staff are friendly too and the service always quite quick. I’m surprised and slightly saddened that it wasn’t busier. Sure, it’s summer, so not typically roast dinner season, but lately it’s been pretty grey and damp – surely the perfect excuse to hide yourself away in the cosy confines of your local public house to chow down on their delicious food. Worked for us anyway!
I’d say that this Reviewski is worthy of a few well-pulled pints of your favourite golden ale or lager, served by a charming barman or cheeky barmaid with the sunlight just glinting through the rain-flecked windows and some cool Sunday blues riding the soundwaves. ~ Poetic, right? For The Poet’s pub!
If I’ve enticed you to try a meal or just to pop along to The Poet’s Smoke and Ale House for a pint or two, you can find the pub tucked into the Poet’s Corner area of Hove just behind Portland Road. Check out their website or Facebook page to be tempted further – cheers!