Tuesday, 10 July 2007

London’s Best…Beefy Sunday Lunch

If you’re going to be a carnivore, I reckon you best do it right. Don’t shy away from the offal, don’t feel guilty for eating something just because it was cute when it was still going about on its legs, and make sure it’s tasty meat that’s been well treated (both before and after the slaughter). I’m a real meat-lover and consider a piece of well-aged beef a glorious thing, the culinary equivalent of sunsets in the Tuscan hills or staring out across placid blue fjords. Which is why I find having the Sunday lunch at the Marquess Tavern such a treat. All their meat is UK-reared and free range, and though you won’t find this the cheapest gastro-meal you’ve had, you are paying for quality. The star in my eyes is the forerib of beef, served hanging off the bone and begging to be lifted up and eaten as if you were Henry VII.

You select your forerib based on the weight; as weights get ordered they go out of stock so you’re advised to a) book a table (essential) and b) book early. The staff is helpful in guiding what weight would be good for your group size and hunger volumes. The last time I went, 5 of us dined on the beef and we had the biggest rib available, costing about £85. Not cheap, but when you pile on the Yorkshire pudding, vegetable, potatoes and gravy – all included in the price – things start to level off again. The bigger your piece the longer your wait for it to be cooked, but there’s proper beer on hand to give you something with which to occupy yourself. At the end of your dining, there is a bone to take home or feed to the neighbourhood dog (I take it home wrapped in acres of foil in order to make soup, much to Mr. A&N’s embarrassment and the neighbourhood dog’s ire) and a sense of well-rounded beefiness like no other.

A caveat worth mentioning is that the kitchen can get a bit harried during Sunday lunch, resulting in beef that goes beyond rare and Yorkshire puddings that go beyond golden. The tenderness and rich taste of the long-hung beef balanced this out and rescued it from being a disaster, but our group was disappointed that every slice of meat wasn’t bleeding onto the plate. A look around showed that a couple of other tables suffered the same problem, but that another 20 minutes later the kitchen was back on even footing. If you value your meat rare, you might want to be insistent on this point. For me, this isn’t a factor that would make me abandon the place (I’m due to eat there again in 2 weeks time) since even when the food’s imperfect it’s really very good. Plus, the experience of tucking into a proper Sunday lunch with a table full of friends, all indulging their carnivorous desires, is an ideal way to spend an afternoon.


Mark said...

Is that photo of the £85 rib?

Annemarie said...

Yes, it is the £85 rib in its glory. Off the the side are the Yorkshire puddings, veg, potatoes and gravy, but they're removed from the shot to not distract from the beef.

Mae said...

I am such a carnivore - i love a good piece of carvery rib and to have yorkshire pudding and lots of gravy too? Well, just perfect! :)