Saturday, 21 November 2015

Sunday Lunch at The Deer Park - Roundhay, Leeds

One of my favourite things in life is Sunday dinner.  I'm pretty sure I can be quoted on saying, on more than one occasion, that my last supper of choice would be a Sunday dinner. I was pretty much brought up on a roast dinners as a child, and as a child, roast dinners weren't just for Sundays. I remember friends coming round for tea after school and being in awe that they were being fed a roast dinner mid week. I wasn't aware at that point that people save this special meal just for Sundays.

At the tender age of 18 when I was forced to live on my own (went to uni) the only meal I could cook (well) was a roast dinner, albeit my Yorkshire Puddings needed some work and I all but gave up during my uni years resorting to (warning some may find the next few words may be offensive) Aunt Bessie's frozen Yorkshire pudding batter in tiny tins. Although I'm still working on my Yorkshire Puddings the frozen batter is but a long and distant memory.

Each Sunday my dad makes a roast dinner, with varying members of the family popping round to visit and devour what he has lovingly made. He's been making roast dinners for well over 40 years now, so I think I'm assured in saying he makes the best in Leeds, if not Yorkshire, or for me... the world.

With the above history in mind when it comes to dining out and eating Sunday Dinner I am highly critical. I have never found somewhere that comes close to a homemade dinner, whether that be my own or my dad's.

The Deer Park is technically our local, although we've only ever been for a pint there once, we've always gone for food as that seems to be its point of focus these days. The Deer Park is owned by the same company that owns The White Hart in Pool-in-Wharfedale. Although we have eaten at the Deer Park before we've never had Sunday lunch; after an autumnal walk around Harewood we had set our hearts and bellies on a roast dinner and on this day the Deer Park was the pub of choice. We've had a few good meals at the Deer Park and friends have also had a good roast here; I felt certain that they wouldn't disappoint.

As we walked in the place was pretty busy, probably the busiest I've seen it since last Christmas. A group of six were in front of us, they hadn't booked and were told it would be a 30-45 minute wait. We approached anxiously and I asked if they could squeeze a 'two' in, it was absolutely no problem. Hurrah!

Options for Sunday lunch were leg of lamb, rib of beef, pork loin, chicken, nut roast or a mix of beef, pork and chicken with a pig in blanket. The only other roast option that came with a pig in blanket was the chicken roast, I guess to make up for the poor choice of meat. Who orders roast chicken?!

Fearing that the trio of meats might defeat me and that the chicken may in fact be a chicken leg such as I spied at the Square and Compass I opted for the lamb. I felt reassured that the lamb would be a good choice as  I have enjoyed their slow cooked minted lamb shank previously on non-Sunday visits (this is no longer on the menu [sad face]).

D was less phased by the trio of meats, he was informed when ordering that there was no more chicken (seriously who orders chicken?) and he could have more of both the beef and pork instead? D was more than happy to have more pork and beef substituted for the redundant chicken. I later overheard the waitress explaining to another table the pork had also run out, we had ordered just in time it seemed!

As only D's meal came with a pig in blanket (singular - tight wads) we ordered some more as a side, because who can't get enough of those little bundles of porky joy?

Trio of meats, actually duo of meats 

We were starving after our walk and it felt like an age until our meals arrived, in actual fact it was probably more likely only 20 minutes. Our roasts arrived stacked in a tower with the Yorkshire Pudding on the top, when I posted the picture on Instagram I was reassured that I am not the only one who is irked by this.

After I had disassembled my tower I dug in. The seasonal veg was a cabbage and leak melody and a couple of tiny carrots. Once I had pushed the Yorkshire pudding off it looked slightly less grand.

Lamb option

Now for the judging...

Yorkshire Pudding: stale. I will accept a small amount of staleness from a restaurant when it comes to Yorkshire puddings as it is near impossible to get them straight out of the oven on to plate without making the customer wait 45 minutes for them to cook. This was beyond my staleness acceptability levels. Points for size.

Roast potatoes: No crispness to them, slightly saturated with grease. Left to sit in the gravy too long before being served.

Veg: the cabbage and leak melody was nice and had a hint of creaminess to it. There should have been more carrots or another veg addition.

Lamb: the waitress asked how I would like it and I replied pink. Some of it was so pink it was almost purple and walking off my plate. There was a lot of chewiness to it and quite a bit of fat which I left. It was luke warm and cold by the end of dinner.

Pigs in blankets: they were pretty good, they're no pigs in pancetta (my speciality) but they fulfilled our cravings.

Pork: (D's plate) he was content with his pork but the crackling was less than to be desired.

Beef: D wasn't asked how he liked his beef it was just plated up as served, no pink insight - plus or minus depending on your preferences.

Gravy: already present on the plate (minus points), not enough on the plate, had to ask for a additional gravy (no charge).

As far as roasts outside of the home goes it was one of the better ones, but it still doesn't beat homemade. It's not cheap either with my lamb roast coming in at £16.95, D's pork roast at £11.95, plus drinks and pigs in blankets the price was pushed just over £40 ( around £6 more expensive than The Square and Compass, and Whitelocks (but we also had dessert here))

If you fancy checking the Deer Park out for yourself, be sure to book if there is going to be more than two and arrive early to avoid disappointment with your meat choices.

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