By Misun Farley
It’s quite the shocker. Somehow, I survived nearly two years of living in England without trying a Sunday Roast. To be fair, I think I heard about Sunday roasts in the first week of coming to Manchester, so how I’m just now am getting the chance to feast on some roasted potatoes and meats I can’t really tell you. What I do know is that the English are nostalgic and loving of their roasts, not to mention very particular about what goes in them.
Knowing that I had the opportunity to finally try my first Sunday Roast at The Woodstock Arms, I came prepared. I asked a local chef and friend of mine, who was very passionate about the subject, what to look out for. She told me the three things that make the perfect roast:
Grateful for the advice, I was ready for The Woodstock Arms.
Firstly, this place is gorgeous. The gastro-pub welcomed us with countryside-meets-wealthy-grandmother decor and a beautiful bar greets you upon entering. My friend and I were ushered to a small corner of the pub, hungry and ready.
To start, we each tried an Elderflower Spritz (St Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Prosecco, soda, lime juice, and cucumber). This cocktail was absolutely delicious, being both refreshing and not too sweet. I highly recommend this one, especially with the warming days ahead.
We then decided to share a bottle of the Cave de Fleurie, Beaujolais, a wine they described as “fruity, easy, and soft.”
It was a very drinkable red that paired well with the food; heavy enough for the meat but not too heavy that it contributed to the weight of food in my stomach by the end of the night.
As it was my first Sunday Roast, I wanted to try it all. Luckily, The Woodstock Arms provided in full. We ordered the shared 21-day-aged beef surloin with roast chicken and pork belly. It arrives with an entree of pigs in blankets, stuffing and red wine jus.
Next, to compare the meat with the vegetarian option, we ordered the nut roast, a root vegetable roast made with almonds and walnuts and a side of vegetarian gravy. Each roast comes with a Yorkshire pudding, ruffled thyme-roasted potatoes, buttered savoy cabbage, leeks, peas and roasted root vegetables.
First and foremost, the presentation on the shared roast was jaw-dropping. It was truly a spectacle to behold. The people around us looked in awe, and maybe slight horror, as they saw us dive into the copious amounts of food before us. The pork belly was my favourite of the three types of meat. It was seasoned and cooked to perfection.
My friend’s favourite was the chicken; moist and delicious. The beef was good as well, although perhaps lacked the abundant fat of the pork belly or retention of moisture from the chicken. Nonetheless, if you prefer beef for your roasts, you will not be disappointed.
So, The Woodstock Arms does meat very, very well. I commend them for attempting a veggie option given how stellar the other roasts are. This nut roast didn’t outshine what I mentioned prior. In fact, I don’t think I can really compare the two, just because they’re so different.
The nut roast is slightly sweet and the texture is really nice. The gravy was amazing and had a perfect (thick-but-not-too-thick) consistency. If you are vegetarian and forced to go to a roast with your carnivorous friends, the nut roast is a good alternative. However, The Woodstock Arms is by no means a vegetarian destination, which I believe is pretty obvious.
All in all, it was tasty but the other meat roasts are way too good to say that this was a favourite, although the gravy is, again, excellent.
The Woodstock Arms check all the boxes. The potatoes were roasted and crispy while being soft on the inside, the Yorkshire puddings were giant and non-uniform, the vegetarian gravy was the perfect consistency and the red wine jus was a well executed step-up from the classic gravy.
I had the privilege of listening to my companion’s stories that revolve around the Sunday Roast. She associates the food with comfort and Sundays with her grandparents. Growing up in America, we too had similar comforting food where the family would gather every so often over various meats and sides (although across the pond it was with cheesy spinach and sweet corn which my friend didn’t seem too enthusiastic about). I love the feeling of family, comfort and nostalgia that food can encourage. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to try my first roast at a place that does it right.
I highly recommend The Woodstock Arms. Although slightly expensive, I feel it reflects the obvious time and effort that goes into the food. As Mother’s Day falls perfectly on a Sunday, The Woodstock Arms would be a perfect destination to celebrate Mum and appreciate family.
The Woodstock Arms is located in Didsbury, 139 Barlow Moor Rd. Open daily with varying hours.
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0161 275 2930 University of Manchester’s Students’ Union, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PR