A roast dinner. Sunday staple, hangover healer and source of regional wrangles. Whether yours is meaty, mashed or bedecked with a pillow of Yorkshire pud, roasts are pillars of strengths in what can be an uncertain world.
In search of such sustenance on a chilly January Sunday, we make our way to the Beck and Call – one of Stainbeck Road’s newest establishments – with rumbling tummies and a hankering for that cosy pub vibe.
Disappointed we are not. The pub is homely and sprawling – carrying the legacy of the building’s former tenant, True Briton, in style. We sit down in a booth-come-table, taking note of the ample orangery space behind us, where there seems to be some kind of baby gathering taking place.
With a happy congregation of pint-clutching parents behind us, a fully stocked bar ahead and a flurry of golden roast dinners appearing from a hatch to our right, the atmosphere is bubbling with Sunday afternoon ease. We get the pints in (a great range of cask ales and local brews is on offer) and peruse the menu.
Roasts come in four forms – lamb shoulder, beef topside, pork belly or vegan haggis – and there are six of us, so our order covers all preferences. But first, starters. Yorkshire Rarebit arrives smothered in tangy melted cheese, and a plate of beetroot-cured salmon is brought to life with kohlrabi and spicy horseradish.
Ready for the main event, we sit back to allow roast-laden plates to find their places on the table. Each choice comes nestled beside crispy roast potatoes, piled with green veg and carrots, brimming with gravy and balancing a Yorkshire pudding the size of your head.
The lamb is tender and tasty, the beef flavourful if a little overdone, and the pork has the crispy skin that many eager roast enthusiasts live for. The veggie haggis boasts a strong, herby flavour and a crumbly texture that takes a little getting used to – it’s a well-crafted meat-free option, but I’m left wondering if a nut roast mightn’t be a better shout.
The accompaniments are great – no fuss, no flourish, just proper good roasties and veg. We order the full selection of sides too, so let me break it down. Meat-eaters, definitely go for the pigs in blankets – the spicy ketchup they come with is especially good. The cauli cheese is extra-saucy but not insanely cheesy, with a crispy topping to break through before you get to the good stuff. Creamy leeks are tender and sweet, and the seasonal greens do exactly what they say on the tin – more of the veg you get with the roast itself.
If you’re not full to bursting after mopping up your lake of gravy with that giant sponge of a Yorkie P, you can squeeze in a sweet treat from the bottom quarter of the menu, namely, desserts. There’s cheesecake and chocolate brownie, there’s apple crumble and sticky toffee pudding, and – if you’re feeling brave and retro – a towering monstrosity of Knickerbocker Glory to send your food coma over the edge.
We opt for raspberry cheesecake, and it’s never felt like such a refreshing end to a stonking roast dinner – creamy, smooth, and topped with fresh fruit and mint. The brownie is another clear highlight – gooey and wielding a rich scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Meal complete, we finish our drinks and stagger out into the fading winter light of Meanwood, in desperate need of a brisk walk to shake the impending urge to curl up and nap for eternity. And if that’s not the perfect state in which to end your Sunday, I don’t know what is.
All photographs by Kate Ryrie. (Feature photograph is roast beef.)