Sophie McLean visits Roast restaurant in Borough Market.
Take the elegance and grandeur of London’s majestic Opera House in Covent Garden, shrink it to perhaps an 8th of its size and transport it a few miles down the road to Borough Market. Here, atop silver painted porticos and bright and airy architecture sits Roast restaurant, a stalwart star on London’s ever fluid restaurant scene.
Opened in 2006 by Iqbal Wahhab OBE FRSA, of previous Cinnamon Club fame, Roast restaurant maintains an excellent and tasty handle on some of Britain’s finest ingredients. And with views down over Borough Market’s cobbled streets and sunset-streaked views of St Paul’s, you know exactly which capital’s table you are seated at.
Food served in the old Floral Hall is a heady mix of serious well-sourced cuisine. Starters include things like Hertfordshire snails, hand dived Isle of Mull scallops and samphire; Pittenweem scotch egg, and salt beef croquettes with whipped peas.
Main courses offer roasted Ripley Castle Redleg partridge, Swinton estate grouse with rowanberry jelly, or baked Plymouth razor clams with a Bath Pig chorizo crust.
Roast restaurant also has a daily specials menu. For me, that meant Beef Wellington, a reliable and deliciously tender British classic that is synonymous with the restaurant’s personality. Seasonally led puddings provide things like Pimms jelly and mint choc-chip ice-cream or Green and Black’s chocolate and sea buckthorn berry mousse.
From the wine list you will find an interesting international selection that nods to biodynamic and organic wines as well as more classic and unusual offerings.
Highlights for me were Roast’s own English wine from Kent’s renowned Chapel Down vineyards and their ‘Union Red’ – a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Precoce and German born Rondo: brambly goodness in a glass. Wine also comes by the carafe giving ample opportunity to taste more than one.
To the gentle sound of piano that resonates from the restaurant’s sultry lit entrance, the interior is sophisticated and contemporary. Walls of what could have easily once been a dance studio, aptly display evocative black and white photos of ballerinas, as part of a current exhibition by photographer Michael Potter – ‘The everyday athlete’ – on show here until the end of September.
But for a space that is so intrinsically bright, the ambience is nothing but cosy: around us there are couples, tables of friends, and a small birthday party finishing with a celebratory cake. Every diner sits at ease in an environment that is both impeccably British and impeccably proud.
The Concierge’s Tip: Sit at the back on the far right hand side for the best evening views.
Address: Roast Restaurant, The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, London SE1 1TL
Reservations: 0845 034 7300