Hubbard & Bell, review: ‘Not stingy on the portion size but lukewarm at best’

Hubbard and Bell

Hubbard and Bell - Credit: Archant

Sunday lunch can’t get much more traditional, and that’s why we love it. But this roast could do with a little more heat.

Sunday lunch: it can’t get much more traditional. And that’s why we love it.

But Hubbard & Bell in Holborn is shaking up this weekend staple with a grand buffet of meat, seafood, salads and desserts.

Of course, this Soho House-owned eatery, part of the Hoxton Holborn Hotel, is not the first to offer such a thing. Service station carveries have been doing it for years, after all – and though they yield mixed results, I confess they are a guilty pleasure of mine.

But the Hubbard & Bell Feast is attempting to steer clear of those ’80s favourites, where you might chomp your way through slabs of meat on the way to who knows where.

For £25, you can eat to your heart’s desire, with a choice of pretty much every cut of meat and piece of fish that you could ever want.

The friendly waiting staff were quick to come over and talk us through the different options soon after we sat down in the bright and airy space, where diners share long tables with other guests.

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Then away we went, large white plate in hand.

As a starter, we helped ourselves to the impressive range of fresh, zingy salads and tender cold cuts.

But the focus here is on the roast meats, the main event. Chefs carve up the meat in front of you, and certainly aren’t stingy on portion size.

I chose a melt-in-the-mouth piece of pork rib, as well as a moist, stuffed piece of pork belly, wrapped in salty, crispy bacon.

Traditional trimmings of roast potatoes were crisp on the outside and fluffy inside, as they should be, and the roasted parsnips and carrots were sweet and not too soft.

But though the gravy had a strong, meaty flavour, it was too watery, and I felt the whole thing was crying out for apple sauce: unbelievably unavailable when I asked the waitress.

The hot lamps keeping the food warm were also struggling with the task: the chefs were offering to “heat up” the meat, but it still came to the table lukewarm at best.

Desserts fared better, with no need to keep any of them hot; I tucked into a delicious red velvet roulade with sweet, creamy filling, fresh fruit, and a moist little blueberry loaf cake.

A carvery by another name is just as sweet – if not sweeter.