London Food & Culture

So you’ve never been to… Sunday Beef Club at Rotunda

Waterside destination Rotunda has launched a set four-course weekend feast, says Stephen Emms

Age: 11. Yes, this restaurant was something of a King’s Cross pioneer.

Where exactly is it? Right by the Regent’s Canal, where it opens out into Ice Wharf, it’s part of King’s Place, the building that houses art galleries, a daytime cafe and sculpture space, Pangolin. Not to mention The Guardian, of course.

OK. So what goes on there? Top scran from the restaurant’s own Corneyside Farm in Northumberland. While meat-free options exist on the menu, the emphasis is – and has long been – quite firmly on all things butchery.

What should I eat? We’ve grazed its modern British gastropub-style fare several times, most memorably last autumn after the dining room relaunched with a theatre-style open kitchen. Their latest idea is the fun-sounding – at least for the carnivorous – Sunday Beef Club, a leisurely four-course meal paired with easygoing drinks.


The dining room and open kitchen. Photo: PR

Nice. So first up? A handful of amuse bouches – cute things like pâté and croquettes – washed down with a fiery bloody mary (the set menu also allows a glass of fizz, if you prefer). Then the meal proper kicks off with a sharing platter, for two, of simple seafood: pink folds of Bow-based H.Forman’s smoked salmon – arguably the best in the capital – matched with discs of lightly picked cucumber, and a crab shell stuffed with both brown and white meat. There are big, fleshy Atlantic prawns half-prepared so it’s easy to dunk them in the tangy marie rose sauce, despite being loosely in their carapace. To scoop all this up? Thick white slices of St John sourdough.

But what about the Sunday Lunch part? We’re coming to that. Served on another whopping dish, roast sirloin is utterly sensational: slabs of ruddy meat – more like individual steaks, really – are armed with a whole heap of duck fat potatoes, some of the tastiest in living memory, plus a tray of carrots and mange tout charred al dente. Outsize, pillowy Yorkshire puds complete the plate, with a jug of umami-packed dark gravy to bring the whole damn thing together. In fact, there’s no need at all for the Dijon that I request out of habit.

The interior: discuss. Wraparound windows offer enviable views over the bobbing narrow boats and towpath to Islington (and, the other way) Camden. Al fresco is, of course, better still, on the attractive garden-style corner waterfront terrace: the only caveat is that the wind is so powerful at times that it even knocks a glass of red wine clean off the table. Yikes.

Lovely but windy: the terrace. Photo: PR

On that note what can I drink? The lunch deal includes one pre- and one post-prandial cocktail, plus a half-bottle of wine per person. See, we told you it was leisurely (ie boozy). We order the house red, a light rioja, and move on to espresso martinis to accompany desserts of (thankfully light) tiramisu cheesecake with blueberries, and a denser strawberry elderflower and lemon trifle.

What’s the service like? Formal but not unfriendly. It still feels like something of a secret spot, even after all these years.

Do say: ‘Let’s eat with the wind in our hair.’

Don’t say: ‘How about a canal dip after lunch?’

Sunday Beef Club, The Rotunda, King’s Place, N1, More info and to book:

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