Sundays. The home of many things. The home of the lie in. The home of breakfast in bed. The home of all laziness. However the most important item that Sunday houses is undoubtedly the great Sunday roast. During a recent holiday in Cornwall with my in-laws, Sunday rolled around and my father-in-law was unstoppable in his mission to locate this British tradition for us to partake in. Hands up to him, he found a real winner when we stumbled across The Old Quay House, which actually specialises in its Sunday roast hot buffet, served at both lunch and dinner time.
Situated off a main road and surrounded by rolling greenery and nearby animals also chowing down on the lush grass, The Old Quay House is your typical old school Cornish building; white-washed with an interior loaded with dark wooden beams, stark and cumbersome against the pale walls and ceilings. Upon entering, my husband and father-in-law had to mind their heads, however we were instantly greeted by the welcome sight of a well-stocked bar on the left and an array of mismatched seating on the right. An official dining room sat in a conservatory style addition at the back of the building, but us latecomers had to be seated in the front bar area instead, which to be honest I preferred.
To go alongside the characteristic beams and the simplistic dining set up was a quirky collection of sporting goods. Framed and colourful football t-shirts sat next to mounted cricket bats and club mascot posters, black and white sporting images huddled alongside coloured team pics. Adding an assortment of colours and textures to the décor, it really juxtaposed with the tradition building to add interest.
The popular Sunday roast is served as a hot buffet, where waiting staff help you to pile your plate high. You start by going up to the paying desk next to the bar, ordering your roast dinners and collecting a token for each meal you order. Then, you queue for your dinner, giving your token to the first waiter to serve you to show you have paid. You order your drinks independently at the bar. This method of ordering may appear cumbersome, but it’s great for groups who want to split payments, or for those who are driving and don’t want to contribute to a friend’s alcohol consumption if a bottle of wine is also shared (come on, we all have a friend like that!).
Reaching the front of the buffet queue, the heat coming from the platters from absolutely stifling, however the smells were equally making my mouth water passionately. Bringing a fresh gammon joint, I ordered the first few slices for my meal, as well as some tender strips of beef to accompany it. A squadgy Yorkshire pudding was piled on too, nice and soft, just how I like them, as well as these weird cubes that were attempting to pass as stuffing. These stuffing cubes were the only aspect of the meal I wasn’t 100% sure about – they tasted and looked a bit artificial for my liking.
They really loaded you up on veg too; I went for roast potatoes, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, broccoli and cauliflower cheese, my plate straining under the weight of my meal. Needless to say I didn’t let peas tarnish the hearty meal I had so far complied. At the end of the homespun buffet was a selection of gravy and sauces for you to slop on, so I splashed some over my meal with gusto.
It was a corking roast dinner. A brilliant size, you can’t help but feel stuffed when you are done. The meat is a real speciality and you can taste the TLC that has gone into the cooking of those succulently large and juicy joints. The gammon had that lovely fresh twang of pork while the beef was pure melt in the mouth. The veg was all pretty standard and nicely done – not mush and not al dente – and two Yorkshires was a plus point too. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this hearty and homely meal, and I could completely understand how they had sold out at lunchtime.
The dessert menu was very simple. Once we had made our order at the bar again and received our food, it was actually a lot simpler than even I had anticipated. In my opinion, so much effort and care had gone into the cooking and preparation of the main courses, that dessert was most definitely an afterthought. Although the presentation was neat and well, just nice, it looked shop bought and plonked on a plate. I’m not being funny but I can do that at home if I want, I don’t really want that when I’m out and about.
I ordered the roulade of the day, which I was informed was chocolate orange, one of my very favourite flavour combinations. However, when it arrived, I was underwhelmed. It was a chocolate sponge that had been rolled with whipped cream to form the trademark roulade spiral, the edges of the plate dotted with tiny segments of tinned satsuma. It was nice and it was sweet, but I can’t help but have this niggle of ‘is that it’? My father-in-law’s pavlova was nicely stacked but again looked shop bought while my husband’s sundae was merely scoops of standard ice cream in a tower. Nice but distinctly underwhelming compared to the magnificence of the classic roast dinner that came before. Clearly, people don’t usually have space for dessert!
Accompanied by a glass (or two) of sauvignon blanc, I did enjoy my meal – the roast dinner is a real winner and is honest, homemade cooking at its best. There is nothing fancy about a roast, but done well, it can excel itself, as it did here. The meat in particular was delicious and very flavoursome. Price wise, The Old Quay House was reasonable and the other main course dishes we saw whizzing from the kitchen also looked incredibly palatable. A cosy home away from home, it’s worth a pit stop if you are a fan of the roast. Just make sure you book if you want any hope of getting a table!