FOOD REVIEW: Sunday roast in a traditional pub with a roaring fire really hit the spot now winter is here
Temperatures have dropped. Winter isn’t coming, its here, and hats, gloves and scarves are now essential items when us Brits venture out.
This also means the pull of the pub becomes entwined with the human need to find somewhere warm when sheltering from the elements.
The Wheatsheaf, Market Street, has been welcoming Wulfrians since the 1850s and as my weather-beaten girlfriend and I dipped into the pub the first thing we noticed was the roaring fire.
And, so the landlady says, the same wrought iron and tile decorated fire place has warmed generations of drinkers.
We were there for a Sunday roast, after hearing landlady Lisa who's had the pub for nearly ten years has recently retaken the helm of the kitchen.
The menu is simple, there is not an overwritten description of scran to be seen.
No 189 day hung upside down meat, or an overwrought made up name of the soil the carrots were grown in.
In fact, I could not see a menu. I was told every week there is beef, accompanied with a rotation of lamb, pork, turkey and gammon. Turkey was the guest star this week. We were shepherded away from the fire in the bar into the back room where the tables were set with paper dinner tables with the food served in front of the kitchen.
But what about a starter, well, there were none on the menu but instead an offer of a cocktail, the deputy manager sees herself as a mixologist as posh places call them, but in the Wheatsheaf, she is a cocktail maker.
The lady had a Long Island Iced Tea, which “sold out on the day we introduced them” and I went for a Godfather. These I must say, were after the first pints we had when we entered the establishment.
Thatchers Haze for me, a king among ciders, a usurper which has come on the scene and destroyed the Strongbows, normal Thatchers and even our Scandinavian Kopperberg fruit abomination. The lady went for the Italian Birra Moretti on tap.
Cocktails are not everyone’s ideal of a starter but I was fine with it as I could see the food would not take an age to arrive. It was all there in front of us, like an old fashioned canteen, or school dining room. There are more luxurious Sunday roasts, and there for more expensive, but at the Wheatsheaf nothing on the menu is more than a tenner. We are in a cost of living crisis, so this is the kind of food which will not break the bank. In fact you could smash the kid’s piggy bank and still have change left.
The choice was a “Midi” – this was the roast meat in a doorstep sandwich, with roast potatoes, a Yorkshire pudding and a gravy dipping pot.
A couple opposite us were devouring two Midis, and if I had not been longing for a roast since I’d woken up and had just stumbled in the pub on my own, I’d have gone for that and have been pleased with my choice.
The lady had the beef roast, I went for the combo, which was beef and turkey. For £7.95, if we had gone large, which I didn’t actually realise was an option until too late, that would have been £9.95.
The plate was piled high, like mom and nan used to make roasts, however, they were strict, no way we would have Yorkshire Pudding if was not beef.
But I noticed just turkey roasts with a Yorkshire on. This has been a culinary sea change in the last 10 years, now Yorkshire puddings are not just preserve of the beef dinners but they seem to be on every plate, served everywhere on a Sunday.
The veg was cauliflower, cabbage and carrots.
What would have made a difference to the way it looked would have been peas, full-on green colour peas, or maybe broccoli, to give the plate some vibrant colour instead of the pale looking veg.
However, the proof is in the pudding, or the Yorkshire pudding in this case, and the roast potatoes, veg and meat all went down the hatch without complaint.
Landlady chef Lisa, happily admitted she doesn’t always get Yorkshire puddings right, but she did when we were there, and I doubt she would serve anything she would not eat herself.
And, shhhhhh, neither did my mom or nan - whose “secret ingredient” was throwing half a tub of bicarbonate and soda in her veg.
But the whole afternoon felt like stepping into a family Sunday shindig, the place erupted when the couple who’d nailed the Midis revealed they could not come the next week because they were getting married. Children happily munched away and there were a few pensioners supping a pint on their own with a faraway look in their eye.
There might not have been starters, but there was a great selection of puddings.
Chocolate fudge cake, sticky toffee pudding, Baileys and ice cream and a cheese board (£5).
They all cost £4.50 and what jumped out what the “apple crumble or pie made by the gaffa herself”.
However, the lady went straight for the crumble and custard so I chose the sticky toffee pudding, however, that day’s customers beat me to it as it was sold out. So I went for the cheese board.
The exaggerated expressions on the lady’s face told me her pudding was hot, very hot, she finished the lot.
But as her daughter is a baker herself complained there was a bit too much lemon in the dish, however, the three spoonfuls tasted great.
However, she helped me finish off my cheese board, which was no-frills, and all the best for it, each cheese was a classic, and not an artisan gin infused Stilton in sight.
There are people who would turn their nose up at a Sunday roast at the Wheatsheaf, but I am not one of them, neither is my lady, that’s why I’m with her.
Neither should anyone wanting a port in a storm. Or a family of four who want change out of £50 for Sunday lunch.