Friends, Brightonians, countryfolk, lend me your ears:
Let’s be honest, for many of us it wouldn’t be Sunday without a roast. But as the chilly days draw closer, there is something quite inviting about venturing off to a cosy pub for this weekend favourite.
I was excited to be heading out into the crisp morning for a Sunday feast at the Shakespeare’s Head. Having heard friends rave about it, I was eager to try it myself. When we were advised to have a small breakfast, I knew I would not be disappointed.
Situated on the outskirts of Seven Dials, we worked up an appetite as we scaled the hill from London Road. The striking chalkboard-esque exterior of the pub was an unmissable but welcome sight. The Shakespearian accents continued inside, along with other eclectic artworks. My eyes were immediately drawn to the large goldfish bowl, containing the pub’s beloved fish, one of them exceptionally named ‘Shafloopa’.
We were warmly greeted by the lovely staff, spear- headed by owner Caroline, who was swift to offer us a drink from their amazing selection. You might already know that the drinks list is not the only amazing selection to be found here. Monday to Saturday, the Shakespeare’s head offers the best array of sausage and mash I’ve ever seen; a choice of 11 sausages, seven varieties of mash, and six delicious gravies to top it off.
Perfect for lazy Saturdays and mid-week catch ups. In fact, it is exactly the cosy, laid-back sort of pub in which you could spend a whole Saturday afternoon with your friends. In one corner is an impressive stack of board games for such events.
If board games aren’t your thing, why not pop down for one of the live music nights? You can check out their Instagram for more info and insights.
But, soft! methinks, I do digress too much. There will be no games today, we are here for the main event; the roast. An event which had sold out. In fact, we enjoyed two of 150 roasts being rolled out that day, an impressive feat for this lovely establishment.
To save disappointment, you will need to book a few days ahead. You can do this through the online booking, service is available until 7:30pm, but you will need to make your food selection when you book.
Seated next to a roaring fire, armed with a refreshing Tom Collins and a very impressive Bloody Mary, we eagerly awaited our food. Once again there is a generous assortment on offer, and very reasonably priced. If you like meat, you will no doubt spend a while making your decision. Sussex pork and chicken, lamb shank or top rump beef; it was a hard call.
Although Brighton affords the luxury of a wide range of vegan and vegetarian options, I was not expecting to be spoiled for choice in the roast department. Out of the three, I chose the mushroom wellington.
We didn’t have to wait long for our beautifully presented meals, they weren’t joking when they told us to skip breakfast. More often than not, a roast can be awash with beige characters, but this was something else; topped with apple shavings, delicate garnishes, and a generous portion of kale. Whether you are a leafy green fan or not, this kale was dressed in something which left you wanting more.
As we tucked in, envied by the doublet clad gentry hanging on the wall, we discovered more veg underneath the impressive centrepieces. The lamb shank was a sight to behold and fell off the bone with ease, the mushroom wellington was rich and skilfully seasoned. This meal was the gift that kept on giving, all of the trimmings were there, cooked to perfection and coated in the best gravy I have ever tasted.
I happen to be a Yorkshire pud fiend, but I’ve never had one like this before. It was not tough, or burnt as you are sometimes presented with, but was light and crisp, and melted in your mouth. It complemented the dish nicely without going overboard on the carbs.
Completely satisfied and filled to the brim, this was definitely an experience that I would love to repeat. To quote Mark Anthony, ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them’. It is fair to say that the Shakespeare’s Head has achieved roast dinner greatness, and if you have not tried it yet, you are missing out.
As Christmas is not far away, you might want to treat yourself to their Christmas menu. Bigger parties of 5 or more are best and you will need to book over a week in advance. More details for this can be found on their website, shakespeareshead.pub
Gold star to the English enthusiasts who spotted my Shakespeare references!