Archive for January, 2013

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First of all… people of Britain, if you’re travelling to London from Scotland or vice versa, pay attention. Service station food can be edible! Not all service station food, and in fact not most, but if you are travelling on the M6 between junction 38 and 39 you’re in luck.

We were driving down to London for the weekend and I couldn’t face the thought of a six hour drive punctuated by fast food that tastes like cardboard so I went searching for foodie spots close to the motorway we could stop at instead. It turns out there is an independent service station in Britain! With a farm shop! And cake!

Westmoreland (aka Tebay Services) is accessible in both directions and it has a cafe which we were pleased to find serving proper breakfast and baked goodies with a stunning view of the countryside. I’ll be honest my scone wasn’t brilliant (think it had been baked a while earlier and got a bit tired and heavy by the time I got to it but I never understand how anyone gets scones to stay fresh for more than an hour out of the oven) but the cooked breakfast using fresh local ingredients was delicious. The only thing we didn’t like was the black pudding but it serves us right for trying to eat it outside of Scotland (sorry England its just better here).

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And despite the hour the farm shop next to the cafe was open, complete with butcher, shelves full of interesting jars and loads more baked goods to take with you (good if you happen to hit the cafe at an hour when your stomach isnt quite ready for the table full of cake – or in reality you’re greedy enough to need seconds later on). I’m so pleased the Dunning family decided to create this place and looking forward to my next trip south!

Right now second of all…. you need to stay on that M6 and get yourself to London even if only for one day. However, it must be a Sunday. This is non-negotiable. Now get to Waterloo and head for Blackfriars Street and The Laughing Gravy, for the best Sunday roast in… no just the best Sunday roast full stop.

This is not a gross exaggeration I promise. Friends took us here for the first time this weekend and I spent most of the journey back to Edinburgh trying to decide whether it was frivolous to spend the rest of my salary on weekly trips to London just to spend all my Sunday afternoons in front of their plate of Roast Aberdeen Angus beef onglet.

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This beef is prepared with love. Talk about slow food… its soaked in a locally brewed London porter beer, itself based on a 100 year old recipe that the brewers researched… for a week. I have checked this again with the pub since I got home to make sure I wasn’t so punch drunk on beef happiness that I was hearing things and its true I promise.

Besides the unusual cut of meat and the week long marinade in porter, the beef is served in a heavenly red wine gravy that starts off in a pot big enough to bath in and reduces down ever so slowly to just  a few litres. The exact recipe is a secret of course. To top it off there are beef dripping roast potatoes alongside fresh vegetables and a big spongy delicious Yorkshire pudding to dunk. I also recommend you start your Sunday brunch with a Laughing Gravy Bloody Mary or a Bloody Shame (the non-alcoholic version and not a shame at all) and you add a portion of their slow roast tomatoes which are equally delicious. This is a meal worth travelling for.

So hopefully I’ve convinced a few new customers to go and support these places so they’re still there when I next want to pop in and hopefully a few chefs in Edinburgh will read this and take on the challenge to better the LG Sunday roast so I don’t have to bankrupt myself with weekly trips to London (pleeeeeeaaase)!


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