A narrow escape
Part 2 of a 2011 London travelogue
by Thor Iverson
The Narrow – Here on a Sunday, with a commanding window view of this fairly slick, newish-feeling (as much as a London neighborhood can be) stretch of the Thames, there’s only one thing to have. Sunday roast? Yes, please. The beef.
It’s Denham Vale cowflesh, and it’s really flavorful. As for the overall dish? Well, the thing is, I grew up eating beef (and pork) roasts approaching this quality pretty much every week in my chilly Norwegian-American home, so where for some culinary adventurers this sort of back-to-the-roots cuisine is somewhat of a novelty, for me it’s more akin to familial comfort that most of the locals are undoubtedly experiencing. It was for me, like it probably is for many here, the sort of meat-as-weekend-reward meal that was more special when it was unique, and is now less so in the deluge of carnivorism that makes up the modern Western diet. Though I can guarantee that my grandmother didn’t roast her potatoes in goose fat to an exquisite crunch, as they do here. The gravy’s problematic…a little too rich and reduced for the dish…the parsnips and Savoy cabbage nonentities, but between the potatoes and the mashed swede (that’s rutabaga for those who speak American English), there’s plenty of contrapuntal goodness on the plate, if one considers heavy, starchy things to be the proper counterbalance to sauced meat.
Lighthouse “Navigator” Doppelbock (British Columbia) – Dark, bitter, dark, spicy, dark, and dense. Very, very flavorful. And sorry, but I have to say it: this would be greatly improved with a little chill. The traditional ambient serving temperature does not suit this particular brew. (2/11)
Penderyn “Peated” Single Malt Whisky (Wales) – A mediocre whisky with a completely tacked-on layer of aromatic iodine. The oak is shockingly buttery, even beneath the peat. Not good. (2/11)
Crusting Pipe – An unexpected last-moment connection via social media (thank you, Mark Zuckerberg) leads us here to meet our French family, who have fallen in love with the city of London and on a whim have decided on a serendipitously simultaneous weekend getaway. There’s a somewhat worn but still interesting atmosphere inside despite the dubiously over-touristed Covent Garden location (though I don’t know about the forced entertainment in the courtyard), and a pretty dismal wine list, but I suppose one really isn’t here for the latter as much as the former. I enjoy myself despite what’s in my glass.
Mount Brown 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (Waipara) – Mineral-driven, which is to the good, with little tropicality and also no overt pyrazines. Unfortunately, lacking either and not having aught other than some rocks in their place, it’s wan. There could, and should, be more. I suppose I’d be kinder were this made from a less aggressive grape, but while I adore mineral qualities in my sauvignon blanc, it’s a grape that I think should bring some of its own expressiveness to the mix. Here, it doesn’t. (2/11)
Copyright © Thor Iverson