Look for a restaurant for lunch on Sunday and pretty much all you will find are serving Sunday roast. While I was actually looking for something alternative to the obvious, I soon realised that instead of trying to go anti-mainstream, I should set out to look for a Sunday roast of outstanding quality as most Sunday roasts nowadays are not that different from one another. Through several recommendations, I decided to make my first visit to The Cowshed on Whiteladies Road. The menu is titled Family Farmhouse Sunday Lunch and has a good and appealing selection of starters and main courses to choose from. One of the more interesting dishes was the grilled skate wing which is less common to be found on menus today.
The focal point of lunch menu was the main courses with the choice of three including lamb, beef and pork but strangely enough, there was no chicken option anywhere on the menu. We opted for the R&W Roast Sirloin with roast potatoes, carrot & swede mash, cauliflower cheese and savoy cabbage (£15.50). One of the reasons why we choose this over the others was that this seems to be a signature item supplied by the Ruby & White butcher shop next door. Only after our meal we found out that the restaurant and the butcher shop was under the same ownership and that the butcher shop was opened specifically to provide for the restaurant. For a cut of roast beef, it was also unusual to find a Sunday roast serving the sirloin cut but for it was well considered that this was served pink in order to give this prime cut of beef some justice. Any cut of sirloin served well done would deduct some of the qualities in taste and texture from the meat.
When the roast beef arrived at our table, it was served sliced on a small carving board with Yorkshire puddings and the sides were served in several pie dishes, which was a nice touch to provide you with the similar pleasure of serving a Sunday roast as you would do at home for the table of guests. When it was served, each individual portion is generously sized and overall visually very presentable. The roast sirloin did indeed arrive pink and the taste was quite brilliant. The beef flavour was so much more prominent and the meat texture was much more delicate compared with the traditional top side cut. As the meat was served pink and thinly sliced, it did become noticeably colder towards finishing. It was an outstanding piece of beef but my preference feel that this sirloin cut would have tasted better as a grilled steak as oppose to being a carvery serving which probably was one of the likely reasons why I had hardly seen roast sirloin served in restaurant and pubs.
The side dishes were plentiful but in quality and detail, it was not on par with the meat. Both the roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings were overdone which made them much harder on the outside and no amount of gravy could soften their brittle shell. The carrot and swede mash was smooth and well balanced but a touch too peppery and fortunately, the cauliflower cheese was genuinely tasty.
For desserts, I had the Chocolate tort with chocolate sauce and honeycomb ice cream (£6.25)
On its own, the chocolate tort itself was rich in taste with a robust chocolate flavour, while accompanying chocolate sauce push the chocolate taste just a little over my sugar tolerance level. I believe the honeycomb ice cream was meant to balance the rich taste of the chocolate but the ice cream itself was a little disappointing as it was just vanilla ice cream with a hard honeycomb centre. If this had been an actual honeycomb flavoured ice cream, it might have made everything work better in this dessert.
We also had Cowshed cheese board with homemade chutney (£8.50). This was a generous selection of four cheeses which unfortunately was not explained to me what was what by our service staff and my guesses were something similar to brie, goat cheese, cheddar and a blue cheese. From all my years visiting different restaurants, this was the first time where I had ordered a cheese board and no service staff bothered to explain the types of cheeses and place of origin. There was one type of cracker served which was a multi-seed variety which was tasty but not necessarily work in matching tastes with the different cheese types. An extra option for cracker or even bread would have been better.
Overall, the lunch experience was positive with some memorable highlights to remember but looking at this particular Sunday lunch menu, it did not quite live up to its potential. The service was friendly but it could have been can be more attentive and with a bit more enthusiasm in explaining the locally sourced food products used. It is definitely recommendable to visit this restaurant but perhaps a weekday lunch or dinner might prove more for what this place can offer.
44 – 46 Whiteladies Road
Tel. 0117 973 3550