Roast dinners can be very hit-and-miss in London. But among those we’d rather forget (don’t even get me started on the ones that consider Yorkie puds optional), there’s a jewel in the crown when it comes to the cosy seasonal staple. Enter, The Culpeper on Commercial Street.
You probably know this fancy London boozer from the Instagrammable rooftop. Not just a pretty face, this sky-high space is home to an array of herbs and ingredients that end up on your table. It goes without saying then, that this spot (named after Spitalfields local Nicholas Culpeper) is all about sustainability; from the regenerative farms they partner up with to the small menu, keeping the offering fresh.
Nestled by Aldgate and Brick Lane, The Culpeper pub is a sure-fire stunner, boasting original features aplenty. Think exposed brickwork and distressed walls meet cascading green foliage. The iron staircase gave things an industrial feel, but altogether it was a perfect match of stylish yet homely. Even better, when we visited in late November, the area was decked out in gorgeous Christmas decorations and twinkling lights. We sat downstairs in the bar section, near the beautiful fireplace, and the buzz on an absolutely packed weekend afternoon was undeniable.
I’ll admit that I had a slight fuzzy head at the time of our visit, so for the perfect remedy? Go for a bloody mary (£9). Although I like mine slightly thicker in consistency, my peppery pick really hit the spot with an ideal amount of Tabasco and not-too-overpowering vodka. The alcohol-free My Ty (£6) could only be described as liquid sunshine on a chilly day, think orange and pineapple juice mixed with orgeat syrup, plus a hint of lime. But we’re here for a feast of epic proportions and it did not disappoint. To kick things off, the crab arancini (£8); three cute, crispy balls hiding a gooey inner layer. These perfectly salted spheres were unreal, trust us, especially the Nutella-looking black garlic aioli it was served on. An unusual starter before a roast but it definitely works.
On to the main event… The Culpeper Sunday roast. Being an awkward vegetarian who also doesn’t like goat’s cheese, I opted for the vegan Wellington (£19). Honestly, this was one of the nicest I have ever eaten, just imagine earthy beetroot, mushroom and sweet potato, wrapped in the flakiest pastry. It's even more impressive when you consider that this didn’t have egg wash for crunch. For all you crackling lovers? Make a beeline for the pork belly (£22), a lip-smacking combo paired with a classic, sweet hit of apple sauce and drenched in gravy.
My approach when it comes to roasts is eating in order, saving the best ‘til last. This backfired big time, as I quickly got full from the generously portioned plate. I could go on forever about the outrageously good potatoes, charred broccoli, towering Yorkshire pudding and slightly aniseed-y cabbage, but a special shout-out goes to the cauliflower cheese (£8 for two). Top tip: you can supersize this side for groups, and our host for the day said it’s a pretty spectacular sight. This was washed down with another fine tee-total tipple, the grapefruit mint highball (£6).
There’s always space for desserts, and my refined Eton Mess (£9) was the perfect finale. Dainty in presentation that made it almost a shame to eat, this wintry bowlful benefitted from velvety cream, chewy meringue paired with dots of cranberry and blueberry; brought together by the tangy blackberry coulis. Next up came the chocolate torte (£9) that gave us Black Forest gateau flavours from the boozy cherries and dark choc, partnered with a delightful orange liqueur cream.
Need a lie down after that? Don’t forget that there are rooms available upstairs for the ideal overnight pub stay.
The DesignMyNight Digest
The Culpeper rooftop, restaurant and pub could be my new favourite tavern. Elevating the humble Sunday roast with classical techniques and pure ingredients, it’s clear to see why people can’t get enough of them. There’s even a whole highlights section dedicated to them on Culpeper’s Insta. It was uber cool here but we were put at ease by the friendly service, festive decor and welcoming atmosphere. Our advice? Pop in for a visit, you won't regret it.
💰 The damage: £96 excluding service.
📍 The location: 40 Commercial Street, London, E1 6LP.
👌 Perfect for: The ultimate hangover cure? You're looking at it.
⭐ Need to know: We hear they're working on a private dining space on the Culpeper rooftop.