The Best Sunday Roasts In London
Where to find yorkshire puddings you could wear to Ascot, glistening gravy, and more.
Londoners, despite appearances, don’t take many things too seriously. But, the things we do take seriously—queuing, drinking, avoiding eye contact with colleagues on the tube—we very much commit to. Roasts are one of these things. If you’re actually going to move and get your arse into gear on a Sunday, then it better be worth it. This isn’t something you want an interpretation of, something you want a take on. No. You want a yorkshire bigger than your face and a jug of gravy that you can, if needs be, paddle in. Plus a seat to rest (or nod off) in for at least an hour afterwards.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
The Selkirk is a rustic Tooting pub which serves a truly epic roast that’s entirely worth leaving your sofa for on a Sunday. The roast British beef is the go-to move, thanks to its tender chewiness and smokiness that is the perfect match to the honey-roasted carrots and liberal serving of gravy. Every Sunday, the two-parts cosy, one-part classy dining room is filled with toddlers merrily tearing up yorkshire puddings, locals catching up over bloody marys, and at least three adorable dogs you’ll try to tempt over with the remnants of your stuffing.
The Princess of Shoreditch
Shoreditch on Sundays can closely resemble the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. You’ll find deserted streets with the odd human stumbling around dazed and confused, in tattered clothing and a fedora, trying their best not to be sick. If it were a true zombie apocalypse, The Princess of Shoreditch is where survivors would scramble for safety. And a beer. And of course a Sunday roast. This place does great pub food any day of the week, but on a Sunday their rare beef roast, topped with a massive fluffy yorkshire, will remind you that the world is not a bad place. It’s just that Shoreditch sometimes is.
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photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
There aren’t many halal Sunday roasts in London, but of the ones we’ve tried, the jerked beef number at Guanabana, a Caribbean restaurant on Kentish Town Road, is the best. It’s a hefty plate of food, with the right ratio of rich jerk gravy to everything else. The perfect bite includes a little bit of everything: spicy, tender jerked beef, the edge of a crispy roast potato, a caramelised baby carrot, a piece of sweet plantain, and an unevenly cut corner of a beautifully deformed yorkshire pudding that’s soaked in gravy. Get a side of mac and cheese to make a near-perfect plate of food even better. It’s a laid-back spot that’s good for small groups, where the chef is chaotically putting out roast after roast on a Sunday.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
££££55 Baring St, London
Come Sunday, The Baring, a slick Islington pub and restaurant which leans more the latter, has a selection of its midweek favourites like pillowy ricotta gnudi and quail shish. But you’d be making a mistake if you don’t get a roast. The plates of juicy chicken or strips of pink beef sirloin aren’t of the piled-high variety but are excellent. Plus the generously-sized yorkshires are crispy, side bowls of golden roasties and greens ample, and jugs of gravy rich.
St John's Tavern
St John's Tavern, a roomy Archway pub, is one of north London’s most quietly excellent pubs for all things drinking and eating, but on Sundays it really comes into its own. Enormous shoulders of lamb sitting in a shallow pool of glistening deep brown gravy. Yorkshire puds that you could comfortably wear on your head, alongside slices of beef rump that belong in your mouth. There are the less traditional things your table needs for good measure: a frisbee-sized chicken schnitzel topped with lemon and caper butter, or rabbit ragu tagliatelle. Combined with its mean ability to pull a pint and make a fine martini, this isn’t just a decent Sunday spot, it’s a sensational one.
photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli
The Camberwell Arms
The Camberwell Arms is the Al Murray of pubs—a bit lairy from the outside, but incredibly well-mannered within. The well-mannered comes in the form of a casual dining room at the back, run by a couple of ex-St John guys. The Sunday lunches are exceptional—there are joints to share, but also fresh salads, pastas, and desserts beyond the standard puddings and cakes. If you think pasta for Sunday lunch sounds like sacrilege, you obviously haven’t tried it.
photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
Some London roasts arrive on your table as manufactured as a chino-clad X Factor boyband. Or, they’re eerily neat with eight identical sliced carrots on each plate and yorkshire puddings measured to the exact size of a corgi paw. Your nan didn’t have time for that shit. And, neither does Maggie Jones’s. The roasts at this Kensington spot are the kind of slap-bang, mis-matched plate situation where you get a pile of great meat (chicken, pork belly, roast lamb, or sirloin). It all feels very homely. Come here on a rainy Sunday afternoon and get seriously cosy among all of their home county knickknacks and old-school style.
The Clarence Tavern
Sitting in The Clarence’s cheerful dining room is a lovely thing. Combine that with a portion of their gratin dauphinois and, well, you’re in heaven. The Stoke Newington gastropub is a family favourite with the kind of menu that guarantees a pop of the button and an enormous contented sigh. Expect to see some kind of large portion of beautifully cooked animal on the menu—a beef short rib, a shoulder of lamb—alongside an onion and girolle tart or other vegetarian options.
The Hero Of Maida
If the decor and menu at The Hero of Maida seems similar to The Coach, that’s because it’s run by the same people. This fantastic Little Venice pub serves an equally fantastic roast. In fact, it’s absolute class. It’s unfussy, it tastes great, and everything about this spot is perfect for those Sundays when you want to lounge about all afternoon. Alternatively, you can perk up with a stroll through London’s prettiest neighbourhood.
The Marksman in Shoreditch is one of the best gastropubs in the East End of London, so it shouldn’t come as a massive surprise that its Sunday lunch is up there too. They offer a three-course menu, where your main course is the standard choice of meats, and sometimes even pie. Our move is to come with a few people, order the whole chicken for two, and definitely opt for a dessert. When you’re done, roll yourself up to the terrace for a bit of fresh air and a couple of pints.
Can a steakhouse also do a good Sunday roast? The answer is yes. And the best thing about Hawksmoor is that there are enough of them dotted around London that you can probably find one to suit the vast geographical requirements of your friends who want to join you. They also like to keep things simple here—they only do roast beef. But this is a great steakhouse, so you can bet they do it well.
For all the tired moaning about East Londonification of things, now and then it really comes good. The Gun was an old boozer on Well Street that was spruced up a few years ago, and they’ve been doing excellent things ever since. The food is, as an old timer would say, a bit tarted up—and the roasts are all the better for it. Bone marrow gravy or cheesy leeks add that little bit extra, and the yorkshires are suitably gargantuan. If the weather’s good you can sit out on their terrace, drink beside you, and tuck in. Because let’s face it, it’s always the right temperature for a roast.
The Drapers Arms
The Drapers Arms looks like one of the most upmarket pubs you’ve ever stepped into, and as an extra plus, it has some of the best pub food in Islington. The Sunday roasts are so good they could turn an otherwise sane person into the kind of obsessed fan who’d start a conversation with a total stranger, just to tell them all about the roast potatoes they ate the other week. The roasties are tasty, yes, but the joints are the main draw. Go with a big group and get the beef to share, along with several rounds. When it’s in full swing, this place is hard to beat on a Sunday.
The Bull & Last
The Sunday roasts at the Bull & Last are legendary. The roasts of lamb rump or beef come served with all their accompaniments in one big glorious pile, covered in gravy and topped with a crispy yorkshire. There’s a great selection of cask ales, and the atmosphere is as pure traditional boozer as they come. It gets busy, so book well ahead, and don’t forget to trudge up Parliament Hill like an asthmatic hippo for the view afterwards.
The Elderfield is one of those residential pubs that feels like it pops out of nowhere as you walk down the road. It’s five minutes from Lower Clapton or Chatsworth Road, and it’s an absolute spot to spend your entire Sunday afternoon in. The roasts are tasty and extremely good value—the roast chicken in particular is lovely—and the interior has got that wood-y and fire-y feel. A combination which is very homely when kept under control. Slump on a sofa after you’ve finished your last potato and get comfortable. It’s not hard to.