Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Sunday Roast Review ~ The Great Northern

Coinciding with the first Sunday in December, this week's Sunday roast review had us venturing out on a crisp, cold and decidedly wintry day hoping for a hearty and warming roast lunch. We had booked a table at The Great Northern Kitchen & Public House on Station Road earlier in the week and, thanks to Twitter, we already knew that some tempting sounding slow-roasted meats awaited us at the relatively recently refurbished dining pub. Sunday roasts were only added to the pub's repertoire a few weeks ago and, hearing good things, we finally made the trip across town to check them out for ourselves.

Over the years the railway station's closest pub, on the busy junction of Station and Hills Road, has gone through many guises, all of which have in some way been associated with after work drinks or a handy stop off for commuters heading to or from the station. Since the pub reopened as The Great Northern, good food has begun to feature on the pub's menus and event calendars, too. Seemingly getting into the swing of things, the pub now serves a well-priced Sunday lunch menu every week from 12pm, featuring a choice of two meats and seasonal trimmings. We chose from slow-roast shoulder of lamb and roast pork belly on our visit, both served with roast potatoes, root veg and cauliflower cheese. We opted for one of each and were immediately impressed. The plates arrived laden with very generous portions of both meats swimming in gravy, with some amazing aromas coming from the slices of lamb and gorgeous, golden crackling topping the pork belly.       

Both meats were really rather good. The lamb was a touch pink at the centre and full of flavour, and the pork was very tender but crowned by perfectly crisped crackling. Chatting to the chef after lunch we discovered a lot of time and passion had gone into slow-roasting the meats to perfection, his culinary style inspired by homely, slow-cooked meals of his childhood days. Accompanying the meat was a very tasty, deep and rich meaty gravy, with the promise of more waiting to be brought to us from the kitchen if we needed it. In fact, the kind offer was in keeping with the overall atmosphere in the pub; staff were friendly, happy to help and attentive without infringing on the chilled out Sunday afternoon feeling. 

Back to the plates, and to the roast potatoes that we couldn't stop talking about. The golden, crispy outer layer tasted like it was slathered in dripping, oozing the rich decadence of meaty, fatty juices that went further than the usual duck or goose fat potatoes, with some subtle herby seasoning in the mix too. We learned from the chef that there's a secret to achieving such tasty roast spuds... and we're keeping it that way! The other highlight was the choice of vegetables, the cauliflower cheese and butternut squash puree proving to be the ultimate comfort food on a winter's day. This was only the second time we've found cauliflower cheese appearing on a Sunday roast menu and it was very welcome indeed. Suitably rich and creamy cheese sauce, bubbled under the grill and crisped up in places, was full of flavour and well-seasoned. A deftly buttered, smooth butternut squash (and possibly swede) mash mingled in with the meat juices and worked incredibly well with the lamb. The plate as a whole was a delicious and very satisfying Sunday lunch.   

The verdict: A delicious Sunday roast offering something a little different from the other Sunday roasts we've had in Cambridge. At £12 each it isn't the cheapest on offer in the city, but every element of the Great Northern's Sunday lunch was very good and couldn't be faulted. Some greens may have been a nice addition but, saying that, we'd choose their fantastic cauliflower cheese over other vegetables any day!
The score: 4 out of 5 (1 on the scale being absolutely terrible and 5 equalling roast lunch perfection). 

Price: £40 for two people including drinks and a shared dessert (clearly homemade and very tasty).

Next Sunday is our final roast review of 2013! Help us in our search for the best Sunday lunch in Cambridge by telling us your favourite Sunday lunch spots in the city. Tweet your comments and recommendations using #SundayRoastReview to @TheMovingFoodie

Read last week's review: The Alexandra Arms

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