As winners of the 2018 National Burger Award, there can be little question that Cut + Grind’s buns really are quite tasty.
But as part of their first pop-up residency, at the Three Compasses pub in Dalston, the patty connoisseurs have entered into that most contentious of culinary territories: the roast dinner.
Age-old debates preoccupy dinner tables across the country every Sunday – chicken or beef? Roasted or mashed? Doused in gravy or on the side? It’s not easy to cook a roast which pleases everyone.
Cut + Grind makes a pretty good go of it though.
Before the main event however, Sam, the head chef, presents us with some spiced chargrilled broccoli.
Now here we need a bit of context – broccoli is the one food on this earth that I hate with all of my being and maintain I will never eat. The scene is therefore one of dismay.
Still, after five minutes of my friend making ridiculously contented noises with his mouth full, I cave in and try it. Of course, it’s delicious.
The broccoli is charred and crispy but the sauce is the real standout – perfectly balanced chilli with a secret ingredient which Sam makes us promise not to share (sorry!).
This revelation, combined with hearing that the roasts had all sold out by 4.30pm, means my expectations for the main are high.
Styled as a ‘Sunday Roast Stack’, any grumblings about false advertising are cleverly avoided – because the plates of beef and pork belly, piled high over roast potatoes and encased in a Yorkshire pudding, are definitely not burgers.
But it immediately becomes clear that Cut + Grind’s reputation for producing the freshest and tastiest burger patties, ‘cut and ground’ in house every day, has been upheld – and some – in the quality of the meat in its roasts.
The first thing to be said is there is a lot of it. This is the kind of portion size that makes eyes widen in fear as much as anticipation when you see it approach.
There are vegetables, buttery and well-cooked, yet these are quite literally a sideshow and no apology is made for this fact.
The plate is a no-nonsense, unpretentious celebration of all things meat and stodge. And to be equally straightforward, it’s brilliant.
The beef is lean and succulent, but the pork, fatty, juicy and tender, is especially good.
As someone with a staunch Yorkshireman for a father, whose life’s work basically consists of criticising overpriced and poorly executed Yorkshire puddings, I could not fault them.
Important to note, too, that there is a Sunday vegan option – meat-free bangers with garlic and rosemary roasties, crispy onions, all smothered in gravy.
The overall impression of the meal is one of honest, no-frills, great food – an increasingly rare thing in so much of Hackney, where now you might expect to find each component of a dish in separate, engraved ramekins, alongside cocktails served in miniature bathtubs.
But on a sunny afternoon at a pub which describes itself as a “proper East End boozer”, Cut + Grind truly nailed the brief.
The Three Compasses
99 Dalston Lane