There are few things Londoners take more seriously than our Sunday roasts. But with the general hardship of getting your arse in gear on a Sunday, and the amount of decent-but-not-great gastropubs around, actually finding a good Sunday roast can be hard. So let us make this at least a little bit easier for you, with this guide to London’s best Sunday roasts.
Chicken gets a bad rap. Like, we know people love chicken, but too often you’ve got a non-believer next you. The kind who says “chicken’s chicken, isn’t it”. Actually no, mate, it isn’t. Because there are few things better than roasting one juicy chicken at 10am on a Sunday and gnawing on it throughout the day like a cadaverous rat. Equally, there are few Sunday roasts better than the whole roasted bird from Four Legs at the Compton Arms. Perfectly juicy and covered in salsa verde, it comes with a side plate of almost perfect hand-cut fries, and a big tub of aioli. But if chicken really isn’t your thing, then there’s a very serious wagyu beef roast with all the trimmings as well.
The Camberwell Arms is the Al Murray of pubs - a bit lairy from the outside, but incredibly well-mannered within. The well-mannered comes in the form of a casual dining room at the back, run by a couple of ex-St John guys. The Sunday lunches are exceptional here - there are joints to share, but also fresh salads, pastas, and desserts beyond the standard puddings and cakes. If you think pasta for Sunday lunch sounds like sacrilege, you obviously haven’t tried it.
Shoreditch on Sundays can closely resemble the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse - you’ll find deserted streets with the odd human stumbling around dazed and confused, in tattered clothing and a fedora, trying their best not to be sick. If it were a true zombie apocalypse, The Princess of Shoreditch is where survivors would scramble for safety. And a beer. And of course a Sunday roast. This place does great pub food any day of the week, but on a Sunday their rare beef roast, topped with a massive fluffy Yorkshire, will remind you that the world is not a bad place. It’s just that Shoreditch sometimes is.
Some London roasts arrive on your table as manufactured as the latest chino-clad X Factor boyband. Or, they’re eerily neat with eight identical sliced carrots on each plate and Yorkshire puddings measured to the exact size of a corgi paw. Your nan didn’t have time for that shit. And, neither does Maggie Jones’s. Their roasts are the kind of slap-bang, mis-matched plate situation where you get a pile of great meat (chicken, pork belly, roast lamb or sirloin). It all feels very homely. Come here on a rainy Sunday afternoon and get seriously cosy amongst all of their home county knick-knacks and old school style.
If the decor and menu at The Hero of Maida seems similar to The Coach, that’s because it’s run by the same people. This fantastic Little Venice pub renovation serves an equally fantastic roast. In fact, it’s absolute class. It’s unfussy, it tastes great, and everything about this spot is perfect for those Sundays when you want to lounge about all afternoon. Alternatively, you can work off all those potatoes with a stroll through London’s prettiest neighbourhood.
The Marksman is one of the best gastropubs in the East End of London, so it shouldn’t come as a massive surprise that its Sunday lunch is up there, too. The roast comes as a choice between a two or three-course meal, where your main course is the standard fare of meats, and sometimes even pie. Our move is to come with a few people, order the whole chicken for two, and definitely opt for a dessert. When you’re done, roll yourself up to the terrace for a bit of fresh air and a couple of pints.
Can a steakhouse also do a good Sunday roast? The answer is yes. And the best thing about Hawksmoor is that there are enough of them dotted around that you can probably find one to suit the vast geographical requirements of your friends that want to join you. They also like to keep things simple here - they only roast beef. But this is a great steakhouse, so you can bet they do it well.
For all the tired moaning about East Londonification of things, now and then it really comes good. The Gun was an old boozer on Well Street that was spruced up a few years ago, and they’ve been doing excellent things ever since. The food is, as an old timer would say, a bit tarted up - but the roasts are all the better for it. Bone marrow gravy or cheesy leeks add that little bit extra, and the Yorkshires are suitably gargantuan. If the weather’s good you can sit out on their terrace, drink beside you and tuck in. Because let’s face it, it’s always the right temperature for a roast.
The Drapers Arms looks like one of the most upmarket pubs you’ve ever stepped into, and as an extra plus, it has some of the best pub food in North London. In particular, the Sunday roasts are so good they could turn an otherwise sane person into the kind of obsessed fan who’d start a conversation with a total stranger, just to tell them all about the roast potatoes they ate the other week. The roasties are tasty, yes, but the joints are the main draw here. Go with a big group and get the beef to share, along with several rounds - when it’s in full swing, this place is hard to beat on a Sunday.
The Sunday roasts at the Bull and Last are legendary. The roasts of lamb rump or beef come served with all their accompaniments in one big glorious pile, covered in gravy and topped with a crispy Yorkshire. There’s a great selection of cask ales, and the atmosphere is as pure traditional boozer as they come. It gets busy, so book well ahead, and don’t forget to trudge up Parliament Hill like an asthmatic hippo for the view afterwards.
If you’ve ever visited Columbia Road on a Sunday, chances are you’ve ducked into this pub to escape the crowds. While the downstairs is great for a pint, the upstairs does a cracking Sunday lunch. Expect no-nonsense plates of your standard beef, chicken, and pork, and a surprisingly tasty vegetarian option. Get one of their real ales or craft beers, and enjoy your probably-too-big Sunday lunch over the sounds of the market outside.
The Elderfield is one of those pubs that feels like it pops out of nowhere as you walk down the road. It’s five minutes from Lower Clapton or Chatsworth Road and it’s a spot to spend your entire Sunday afternoon in. The roasts are tasty and extremely good value - the roast chicken in particular is lovely - and the interior has got that wood-y and fire-y feel. A combination which is very homely when kept under control. Slump on a sofa after you’ve finished your last potato and get comfortable. It’s not hard to.
This pub in Clerkenwell serves outstanding food, and its upstairs dining room is so pretty that you’re likely to witness or one day be invited to a ‘laid-back, casual, and fun’ (but actually meticulously planned) wedding party there. On a Sunday you can avoid any wedding shenanigans by grabbing a table downstairs, where you should get The Peasant’s epic Sunday roast, which comes with the gravy already poured on. This information may send you into a state of mild panic, but relax, as they nail the gravy to roast ratio every time.
After a ton of research, we know that chicken roasts are mostly dry pieces of sadness masked by a bucket of gravy. If you’re that person who’s been looking for the perfect chicken roast, Coal Rooms in Peckham is the spot. The other roasts on the menu, and getting to eat in a stylish dining room rather than a pub are also points not to be ignored. But, for us, the only thing that really matter is that chicken.
The Stag is essentially the perfect pub: it’s old, it has a friendly atmosphere, it serves a massive selection of beers, and there’s a large beer garden as well as a rooftop for those five annual days of London sunshine. It also does a great Sunday roast, and it’s the perfect spot to hit when you’re with a big group. You’ll want to share a few of the whole roast chickens.
Easily one of the nicest pubs in the Bow and Mile End area, the Morgan Arms is an old boozer on a quiet residential street that’s been given a hipster makeover with loads of modern art and the odd leather sofa. They’ve done a nice job with it - the atmosphere’s lovely. They have plenty of cask ales and bottled beer from the US and across the UK, and the roasts are reliably good. In addition to the traditional Sunday roast, they serve a posh burger for that one mate of yours who ‘doesn’t get roasts’. And we mean ‘mate’ in the loosest sense of the word, of course.