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Best roast dinners: UK restaurants that serve a great Sunday lunch

A good roast is hard to beat. We’ve tracked down 10 of the best places to enjoy this very British tradition and asked each one for a Sunday best recipe to try at home

THE CHASER INN, KENT

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Adjacent to a village church in rural Kent, The Chaser Inn in Shipbourne is every bit the definitive English country pub. General manager Craig White attributes the 500 diners he welcomes every week to the Sunday roast menu, which has remained unchanged in 11 years, and includes all the classics. He and his team pride themselves on having won a significant number of awards endorsing this claim. ‘People know what to expect when they book, and they know standards remain high,’ he says confidently.

A consistent menu means everything can be perfected: head chef Dan Curtis’ key to

winning roast potatoes, for example, is cooking them in duck fat with chopped garlic and rosemary, while his thick gravy is made using veal stock – which is cooked earlier in the week – combined with all the roasting pan juices, which he adds fresh on each day of service. The Chaser is the focal point of the village: its various spaces, including the Church Room, with its high vaulted wooden ceiling, play host to festive celebrations, as well as the family Sunday lunch. Roasts, £12.95–£14.95; 12 noon–9pm. thechaser.co.uk

Sunday best recipe: Apple sauce with cider. Peel and core 4 Bramley apples. Put a large knob butter in a pan, add the apples and cook gently on a low heat. Add 100g of soft dark brown sugar and stir until dissolved before adding 100ml good-quality cider. Cook until the apples start to break down – this should take about 10 minutes – then stir gently, leaving a few chunks of apple for texture.

ST KEW INN, CORNWALL

The St Kew Inn in Bodmin was built in the 15th century to house workers who were constructing the church next door. You can still see many original features, including rustic stone walls, low wooden beams and the spikes in the ceiling that were once used to hang meat when the inn doubled up as

a smokehouse. There’s also an inglenook fireplace, where logs burn fragrantly in the winter months, filling the air with a quintessentially British glow.

Chef Martin Perkins offers a menu that reflects his taste for excellent quality produce, and a modern Sunday lunch menu with a choice of four starters, four mains and four desserts. ‘I keep the menu short, so we can concentrate on making what we do the best,’ he says. Typically, he’ll serve either pork, lamb or chicken alongside an omnipresent topside of beef. Each meat comes with a different gravy, which he starts cooking midweek. Everything is gluten-free – even the cauliflower cheese, which is made with a flourless faux béchamel. It’s one of eight different sides that come with Sunday lunch, in addition to roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding. The inn is dog-friendly, and there’s a popular beer garden, too. Roast, £10.50; two courses, £15; three courses, £19.50; 12 noon-2pm. stkewinn.co.uk

Sunday best recipe: Cauliflower cheese. Break the florets from a cauliflower, then roughly chop the stem and inner leaves. Slowly cook the stem and leaves in 1 tbsp butter and 50ml water until soft, then add 2 tbsp of double cream and boil for 2 minutes. Blend this mixture, season and mix in 100g Davidstow cheddar to make the ‘béchamel’. Blanch the cauliflower florets in salted water for 2 minutes, then drain, cover in sauce and top with more grated cheese. Bake at 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 until golden brown.

WHITE POST, DORSET/SOMERSET BORDER

Brett Sutton is both a traditionalist and an innovator when it comes to Sunday lunch. He uses beef dripping for his roast potatoes, but for his shoulder of lamb, he uses a modern technique: the sous vide, where meat is vacuum-packed and cooked slowly in a water bath. On Saturday mornings, the joints go in for 24 hours at 55C, then, on Sundays, they’re sealed in a hot pan before service. Sutton isn’t coy about what brings Sunday lunch together: ‘We make a bloody good gravy,’ he says.

The White Post is in Rimpton on the Dorset/Somerset border, and used to boast a bar in each county. Sutton says, ‘At one time, last orders were half an hour earlier in Somerset, so everyone would move into the Dorset bar!’ Two courses, £19; three courses, £25; 12 noon-2pm. thewhitepost.com

Sunday best recipe: Gravy. Toss diced carrots, celery and onions with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes at 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Add these to a pan with some beef or chicken bones, top up with water and simmer for 2 hours. Strain and reduce with a glass of red wine or beer for another hour. Finally, season and add the meat cooking juices.

ALMEIDA RESTAURANT, LONDON N1

Being just off the beaten track of Islington’s Upper Street and its innumerable restaurants lends a certain charm to the Almeida. The combination of sleek minimalism and Georgian architecture in the adjoining theatre are typical of this pocket of London. The menu draws on excellent meats from around the UK: roasted loin of English pork, rib of Scottish beef or leg of Welsh lamb, placed in the middle of the large tables for family gatherings in the dining room. Chef Tommy Boland’s sirloin of Angus beef, served with traditional sides, comes from Surrey, and the supplier is regularly tasked to visit seven or eight farms around the area to select ‘the best of the best’.

Seasonal vegetables, including baby turnips and haricot beans, are brought to the table and served family-style, fostering one of the great themes of the Sunday lunch: sharing. Sharpen up with an aperitif on the outdoor terrace – preferably the punchy Bloody Mary. Two courses, £20; three courses, £25; Sunday feast, £33.50; 12 noon–3pm. almeida-restaurant.co.uk

Sunday best recipe: Bloody Mary. For the mary mix: muddle a 2cm piece cucumber then mix in 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce, 3 dashes Tabasco, 2 tsp lemon juice, pinch of salt and pepper, 2 tsp port, 2 tsp dry sherry, 1 tsp horseradish cream and 1 tsp olive brine. Leave for 24 hours, then strain. Mix 50ml vodka, 20ml mary mix*, 100ml fresh tomato juice, and garnish with sliced cucumbers and lemon.

THE CORNWALL PROJECT AT THE ADAM & EVE, LONDON E9

Matt Chatfield is well regarded among London’s top chefs as the man who supplies them with some of the UK’s best meat and veg, all from small producers in Cornwall. Now Matt has taken the helm at the Adam & Eve in Hackney, having teamed up with young chef Michael Harrison to ‘produce the best Sunday roast possible’.

Almost everything comes from the Royal Duchy – including native-bred beef from Philip Warren butchers in Launceston. Even the eggs for the Yorkshire pudding have been carefully sourced from the same farmer who supplies the mutton, and the menu is governed strictly by seasonality. Alongside shoulder and belly of pork, fillet and topside of beef, and breasts of bone-in chicken, it is the mutton that has become Adam & Eve’s signature roast. Slow-roasting whole shoulders and legs means the meat is never tough and, as the sheep are fattened on lush Cornish grass, yielding an external layer of fat, it crisps up into a kind of crackling that Matt describes as ‘out of this world’. Matt and Michael also offer a weekly vegan roast with vegan gravy. Roast, £14.95, 12 noon-6pm. @adamandevee9

Sunday best recipe: Crunchy rapeseed oil roasties. Extra-virgin rapeseed oil is thick and deep yellow, with a high smoking point, which means you can take the surface temperature of the potatoes up higher than you can with dripping or olive oil to produce a deeper, crisper crust. Peel 1.2kg King Edward potatoes, cut into chunks, and parboil for 8 minutes in salted water, then drain. Spoon 3 tbsp extra-virgin rapeseed oil into a roasting tray and heat in a 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 oven for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, turning them to coat thoroughly in the oil. Roast for 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden and crunchy.

ROAST, BOROUGH MARKET

Roast’s head chef Marcus Verberne sources his bread and cheese from Borough Market, where the restaurant is situated, and his meats from suppliers around the UK: Galloway beef from Thirsk in Yorkshire for the Rolls-Royce of roasting joints, the fore-rib; chicken from Goosnargh in Lancashire; and pork belly from Wicks Manor in Essex. Roasts here are proffered to share. The menu might include a leg of lamb with ‘Mum’s mint relish’, with roast potatoes, to which olive oil, garlic cloves, rosemary and lemon wedges are added 10 minutes before the end of cooking. Desserts include buttermilk pudding with spiced Kentish cherries, and sticky date pudding with toffee sauce and Neal’s Yard crème fraîche. Three courses, £35, or £38 with beef; 11.30am–6.30pm. roast-restaurant.com

Sunday best recipe: Mum’s mint relish. Mix a handful chopped mint, 1/2 grated apple, 1 tbsp raisins, 1 chopped tomato and 1 finely diced shallot with a dollop of grain mustard. Add a splash of cider vinegar, a pinch of salt and a spoonful of honey and leave for 1 hour.

THE CUMBERLAND BAR, EDINBURGH

‘I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but I do want to bring back all those great family memories of lazy Sunday lunches,’ says head chef Craig McKend. At the Cumberland – a classic Victorian bar in the New Town – you can expect newspapers, real ales and a laid-back atmosphere. In winter, there’s a roaring open fire, while in summer there’s a dog-friendly beer garden.

There’s only one roast on the Sunday menu, which changes weekly. As well as working with a local forager and having ‘an awesome neighbour who lets us attack her allotment’, Craig says the rotating menu allows him to reflect the seasons. Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes supply ‘the best spud for the job all-year round’ and, when the dark months hit, ‘it’s time to get out those pickles and preserves from the summer glut’. Roast, £11.95; two courses, £14.95; three courses, £16.95; 1pm-6pm. cumberlandbar.co.uk

Sunday best recipe: Perfect pork crackling. The day before, score the skin with a sharp knife and put the joint in a roasting tin. Scald the skin with boiling water. When it’s cool, pat dry with kitchen paper and put the meat on a tray in the fridge, uncovered, overnight. The following day, massage in sea salt and a few thyme leaves. Roast on top of some root veg at 220C/fan 200C/gas 7 for 15-20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and roast for 20 minutes per 450g meat.

BUNCH OF GRAPES, PONTYPRIDD

‘The Bunch’, as it is popularly known, has been central to the once-industrial community of Pontypridd for more than 160 years. This is an inn that prides itself on excellent ales (many of which come from its own microbrewery, the Otley Brewing Co), ciders, and food that makes the most of seasonal produce from the local area. Two cuts of beef – silverside (well-done only) and rump (medium-rare) – come from Breconshire, as do the loin of pork and shoulder of lamb, and the chicken is from Newtown in Powys.

Carrots, swede mash, kale and roast parsnips are served with roasted and boiled potatoes, evoking a feeling of traditionality. Many of the herbs and vegetables are grown in the pub’s garden, and each roast comes with traditional gravy or head chef Sebastien Vanoni’s bespoke jus. Desserts range from the traditional sticky toffee to the more unusual caramelised pear and green tea cheesecake. One course, £9.50; two courses, £12.90; three courses, £15.90; 12 noon-3.30pm. bunchofgrapes.org.uk

Sunday best recipe: Sticky toffee sauce. Bring 300ml double cream, 250g butter and 250g light brown sugar to a boil, then simmer until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has thickened and darkened to a toffee colour.

PARKERS ARMS, LANCASHIRE

At the Parkers Arms in Newton-in-Bowland, chef and owner Stosie Madi describes her French mother’s ‘unforgettable’ pot-roast chicken with new season garlic as the best roast she has ever had. She always allows the season and what is plentiful locally to influence what she puts on the menu. Hogget is served in spring, lamb in summer and game in autumn, with traditional pork and beef served throughout the year. She says it is important that her busiest weekly service should uphold her motto of showcasing ‘bounty from the county’, including Hesketh Bank cavolo nero and hispi cabbage, estate-shot venison, rabbit and roe deer, and horseradish from neighbour, Mrs Farrand.

The pub presides over a quiet, pretty village in the Trough of Bowland. Its four en-suite rooms enjoy views of the Ribble Valley and the fells that roll into this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which provides plenty of scope for cycling, walking, fishing and grouse shooting. Provenance matters to

Madi, as does detail, right down to utilising the abundant wild moorland heather, which frequently finds its way into butters and stuffings for local game birds. Three courses, £28; 12 noon-6.30pm. parkersarms.co.uk

Sunday best recipe: Butter stuffing for a game roast. Put 250g butter, 250g finely chopped dry-cured smoked bacon, 150g fresh moorland heather and 100g thyme into a food processor and blitz together. Season with black pepper, then roll the mixture into sausage shapes and chill for at least an hour. This mixture is delicious rubbed over hot venison joints as they come out of the oven, or stuffed into smaller game birds before cooking.

THE PUNCH BOWL, CUMBRIA

Crosthwaite in the Lyth Valley is the bucolic Cumbrian setting for the much-praised Punch Bowl. This 300-year-old pub sits beside quaint St Mary’s Church, not far from Lake Windermere. The scene is picture-postcard charming, and the valley setting a draw for trippers venturing in search of a Sunday roast. In the kitchen, provenance is king, with head chef Scott Fairweather sourcing most of his meat from farms within 20-30 miles. The topside of beef comes with cauliflower cheese, carrots braised in orange and cardamom, buttered courgettes, roasties cooked in dripping, and Fairweather’s signature Yorkshire puds.

An abundance of seasonal fruit is always in evidence, including Lyth Valley damsons, used in the posset with lemon jelly and pink peppercorn meringue. Book in for a weekend treat – there are nine boutique rooms, each with a freestanding bath. Roast £14.95; 12 noon-4pm. the-punchbowl.co.uk

Sunday best recipe: Yorkshire puddings. Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7 and put a 12-hole muffin tin in to heat with some oil. Crack 1 egg per person into a measuring jug and take note of the volume. Measure out the same amount of milk and plain flour, then whisk with some seasoning. Pour the batter into the tin and cook for 15-20 minute, or until risen. 

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Written October 2014 (main image of pork roast provided by Chaser Inn, Kent)