Blacklock review: this visit took place pre-covid.
Blacklock has been banded about as the “holy grail” of Sunday roasts in London so of course, it’s been on my list to visit and review. Did it live up to the hype and my expectations? Keep reading to find out.
I had to book the table two months in advance to be able to get in on a Sunday and I could only get a 4.30pm booking – I actually booked it when we were visiting The Culpeper (a great pub for a Sunday roast in Spitalfields) but it meant that expectations were set very high as it was clearly very popular. Blacklock is actually founded by three veterans of Hawksmoor so I’d expect a high standard of food (although I was bitterly disappointed with the Hawksmoor roast). Eventually, the day arrived and it was a grey, miserable, wet and rainy Sunday; exactly the sort of day where a comforting roast dinner is what you need.
The restaurant in Soho is quite unassuming, its very tucked away and looks plain on the outside. The entrance is very small and cramped and we walked past a couple of walk ins who were sat in the entrance area waiting for a table whilst were shown downstairs, through the bustling, windowless restaurant.
I particularly liked the sign that read:
A Magnum of wine is perfect for two, if only one person is diningBlacklock Soho, WELCOME
The restaurant itself isn’t large but every space was filled. Our table for two was at the back, set inside a little cave with white brickwork next to another table of two diners. The table itself was a little cosy (read: small) but not cramped and although it had been wiped, it hadn’t been cleaned very well. As I read this post-covid (this visit took place and was written up pre-coronavirus) I now realise that this is unacceptable. I would expect restaurant cleanliness to be at a better standard than this. Without the benefit of hindsight, I didn’t complain. We removed our sodden coats and umbrellas whilst we began to look at the menu. I arrived with very high expectations which came crashing down throughout the meal. It’s a shame that the visit started to go downhill from here.
Blacklock – What We Ordered
The first thing I noticed on the menu was Pig’s Head on Toast (£6) offered as a starter which is apparently one of Blacklock “favourites” but admittedly, I’m not adventurous enough to choose this dish. I did debate about ordering the Burrata on Toast (£6) but decided to save myself for the main event.
I think on Sundays, it’s only the Sunday menu available; there was a choice of 55 Day Aged Beef Rump (£18), Middlewhite Pork Loin (£18) and Cornish Lamb Leg (£18) or the All In (£20pp) which is designed to be shared between two people or more and you guessed it, it includes a bit of everything. Why choose one when you can have all three? All In includes all your traditional trimmings, vegetables and gravy. I was a little bit surprised that there wasn’t a chicken option as I am partial to a roast chicken but the All In was the way to go. At £20 per person its about in line with what I’d expect to pay for a mixed meat roast dinner.
I was impressed with the drinks menu; there were cocktails for a fiver which is almost unheard of in central London and wine on tap (albeit the selection was small) but it meant that you could order a variety of different sizes. We chose a 500ml carafe of the Yellowbelly Stellanbosch (£22) red wine to go with our dinner which is a large glass of wine each.
The waiter came over to take our order and the downside of the restaurant being packed meant that it was difficult to hear the waiter over the din. The service itself felt really rushed – the waiter spilt water over our table twice and although the food arrived really quickly, it meant that there was no chance to enjoy our wine and soak up the atmosphere. It did feel like we were a number rather than a name, and that Blacklock were trying to get customers through their meals as quickly as possible so this took the shine off of the visit a little bit. We didn’t order any extra sides although the Cauliflower Cheese (£4) coming out of the kitchen looked fantastic and I bet the Bread and Gravy (£3) is pretty awesome too.
The only way to describe what arrived is a mountain of food which looked very impressive; a giant platter of meat with beautifully pink beef, succulent roast pork and giant Yorkshire puddings. You could see carrots and greens peeking out from underneath and there were also roast potatoes tucked away waiting to be found. The platter was put in the middle of the table inbetween us and we were given a plate each to load up. This also came with a large gravy boat. I couldn’t wait to dig in.
I can’t lie – the food was absolutely fantastic, there was nothing I didn’t like. The meat, slow roasted over open coals was well cooked but the beef was standout. The pork was a fraction dry for my liking but the crackling was absolutely spectacular – super crispy with great flavour. The vegetables, carrot and broccoli were soft and simple but delicious. Every bit of food was great on its own but the gravy made it ‘next level’ with such an incredible meaty depth of flavour.
We didn’t bother with pudding; at this point we felt like the waiters wanted our table although we were there less than an hour so we hadn’t been excessive with our meal. When we asked for the bill we were brought the wrong receipt and had been charged for a 700ml carafe of wine when we ordered a 500ml carafe so this had to be corrected before we paid.
Was it worth waiting two months for this? No. I’ve had better Sunday roasts at The Princess of Shoreditch, The Grapes and The Gun without the lengthy wait, brilliant food and better service. Unfortunately the hype of Blacklock just didn’t deliver on the day.
Blacklock – 6/10
The food was fantastic, but the service is what really let it down for me. It’s always disappointing when the service staff let down the chefs in the kitchen and maybe I visited on an “off day”, but I’m not going back to give them a second chance.
Food – 9/10
Service – 3/10
Decor / Ambience – 5/10
The total cost for two people was £77.63 including service and drinks.
Have you visited Blacklock before? Feeling Inspired? Check out my London Restaurant Hit List!
24 Great Windmill St