Is the Sunday roast over – or just getting posher?

The £7 Wetherspoons roast dinner will be served for the last time on Sunday, and sales of roasting joints are declining. But in gastropubs and restaurants, Sunday lunch is the new Saturday night

Roast pork at the Pony & Trap in Chew Magna.
Roast pork at the Pony & Trap in Chew Magna. Photograph: Tim Martin/PR company handout

When historians come to pinpoint the decline of British life and its once great institutions, they may not look at the death of the NHS, or the demise of the BBC, but something more imminent: the dayWetherspoons served its last roast dinner. That would be this coming Sunday, by the way.

To judge by the reaction on social media, it is a sad state of affairs, and one which even the pub chain’s spokesman doesn’t seem to understand: “It would make more sense to say sales [of Sunday roasts] are plummeting therefore we decided to take it off, but it’s not the case in our pubs,” says Eddie Gershon. The pub company updates its menus a couple of times a year. “Some meals go on, some come off, and the company decided they wanted to concentrate on their core menu that they serve throughout the week, rather than one specific meal that is only served on a Sunday.”

“I was surprised because I would think they are popular,” says Chris Wisson, a senior food and drink analyst at Mintel. “The main reason must be because the profit margins are not huge.” He points out that Wetherspoons sold a roast for about £7, which included a drink. “There is not a huge amount of profit there for them to keep doing that.”

Is the roast dinner dying out? It could well be in decline in British homes. Spending was down on all roasting joints in the year to January 2016, according to figures from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, with chicken (5.5% down) and pork (13.2% down) faring the worst.

But Wisson doesn’t believe the pub roast is dying out. Instead, he says, we are seeing the rise of the £10+ roast. “[Pubs are] using better cuts of meat and more premium ingredients. I don’t think we’re going to see lots of pub companies following Wetherspoons because all the trends are pointing to food being a really profitable way of boosting sales.”

The Sunday lunch at the Pony & Trap in Chew Magna, which recently came second in a list of the best gastropubs, costs £26 for two courses. “It is reflective of what we are paying for our produce,” says chef-owner Josh Eggleton. “Our beef is local and so are lots of our vegetables.” He loves a Sunday roast and does all he can to ensure his customers enjoy theirs, even though everyone seems to have a different opinion on what constitutes a good one “because it’s such a tradition, they grew up with it. I have strong memories of eating Sunday lunch at my nan’s house. Everyone does it differently.”

Restaurants, too, are offering high-end roasts. The steak restaurant Hawksmoor was awarded best Sunday roast by Observer Food Monthly. “We take Sunday roasts really seriously,” says founder Will Beckett. “I think people want, with restaurants increasingly, something that is beyond what they can make at home.” There isn’t a decline, he says – it’s the opposite. Next year, Hawksmoor is taking the traditional British dinner to the United States. “We’ll be doing a roast there and seeing if we can make it work.”

[Source:- Thr Gurdian]