Sunday lunch at the Rosendale: a warning from history

I don’t write about restaurants very often, because most of the places I go out to eat are perfectly nice without being amazing, and thus not really worth mentioning, since I am not a food blogger. But I am making an exception for The Rosendale, because if I can save one person from enduring a Sunday lunch like the one I had yesterday, it will have been worthwhile.

Years ago, The Rosendale was a pub which did pizza. Good pizza – the type you’d travel for, although I only lived around the corner then, so I didn’t have to. Then I moved away, and by the time I came back it was a gastropub and getting good reviews all over the place. So we ate there, once, and it was good. But somehow it took us two years to go back, even though it’s a fifteen-minute walk from home, and this time, it was bad.

The service, to be fair, was only mediocre. After a long period during which nobody came to take our order (even though there were only two or three other groups there), we were presented with a basket of stale bread. Well, maybe it wasn’t all stale, but the piece I got was definitely past its best. As I spread it with butter so soft and tasteless it might have been margarine, I thought “they wouldn’t serve stale bread; this must be the texture it’s supposed to have”. But then I ate it, and no, it was just stale.

Next came beef carpaccio sliced so thickly as to look more like a couple of steaks, and a gazpacho soup so tart it set my teeth on edge, and such a disconcerting shade of ketchup-red that I could only assume it had come out of a tin. It was accompanied by greasy garlic croutons, which, in a charming touch of consistency, were also stale. What it didn’t come with was a spoon: I had to grab a waitress and ask for one.

The beloved’s main course of rabbit was, to give it its due, very good. My roast beef with all the trimmings, in contrast, was possibly the most inedible plate of food I have ever been presented with, not including the time a Spanish woman cooked me a pig’s trotter to welcome me to her home. The beef was tough and tasteless, the roast potatoes (which were the reason I’d ordered it) were dry and almost certainly reheated (or if not, then just very badly cooked) and, inexplicably, the Yorkshire pudding had the actual consistency of a mushroom. I’d noticed a plate going back into the kitchen with a barely-touched Yorkshire pud languishing on it, and at the time I’d thought “what kind of a maniac would leave a Yorkshire pudding uneaten?”, but in the end I had to do the same. The mixed veg had all been steamed together, which meant that the carrots were underdone but the broccoli and beans were fine, which was fortunate because they were the only part of it I enjoyed.

The puddings looked good, but we were too disspirited by the whole experience to stay and find out. At £40 a head for two courses with wine, they need to get better at cooking quite quickly. As for our Sunday lunch, the next time I want to leave the washing up to someone else I think I’ll head into Herne Hill for a perfectly adequate roast for half the price at The Commercial, or even a proper old-fashioned pub pizza at The Half Moon.

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