As many of you readers know, I grew up in rural Illinois among factory workers and farmers. Corn was the crop and consequently the cows in the area were well fed and well marbled – no grass feeding in America’s heartland.

Living cheek by jowl in a household of three families was wonderful for me as the only child in the house, doted over by two grandmas, one aunt, an uncle and, of course, my mom and dad.

And as stretched as our budget was, we always seemed to eat well, if frugally.

Beside wild rabbit and squirrel in the fall and crappies from the Illinois-Hennepin Canal in summer, BEEF was the main domesticated meat at our supper table. Hamburgers were always served on sliced Wonder Bread. When she felt like getting fancy, my Mom treated us to platters of Sloppy Joes.

Kewanee had a lot of Eastern Europeans and a particularly large Polish population from whom someone in our household must have pilfered a recipe for Stroganoff. Ours, however, was most always made with hamburger and only rarely with delightfully flavorful and chewy bottom round steak.

Birthdays and anniversaries often called for a chuck roast, cooked until it was falling off the bone and served with winter vegetables that had been braised for hours.   It was a lip-smackingly good pot roast.

All in all, we did pretty good with not much money.

But Sunday was different. Sunday Dinner was the meal of indulgence. After church, all members of our household would gather at the dinner table as well as a guest or two. A frequent invitee was Leo Lester, who worked at the liquor store. I marveled at how many helpings of food he took and I was especially impressed with his ability to sop up gravy with soft-folded slices of white bread from the six-inch stack in the center of the table.

What made the meal special? My mom would shop at the A & P on Saturday and pick up a 5 lb. bottom round rump roast for Sunday dinner. No premium beef cuts for our house. Our rump roast came directly from the tough ass end of the cow. But mom roasted it LOW and SLOW and WELL DONE. I loved it.

Dinner was accompanied by scalloped canned corn and buttery mashed potatoes. Much to my frustration, cousin John often positioned himself within easy reach of the potatoes and loaded his plate with countless spoonfuls so that by the time the potatoes were passed to me, only a few flimsy, mushy scraps remained. Periodically I fixed it so that I reached the table first and claimed the potato-adjacent seat. I fondly recall the look on John’s face when the empty serving bowl reached him. It was delicious.

All that maneuvering took place around 1948 or 1949. Now, set your clock to the present.

Joanne and I are checking out food at London pubs.

One Sunday evening we dined at THE HARWOOD ARMS in Walham Grove W-6. It’s the only pub in London with a Michelin Star. 

On the menu was SUNDAY ROAST.

It was a one-plate feast consisting of sliced rare roast beef, braised vegetables, roasted potatoes and a hot popover – all worthy of that Michelin star.

Over the course of our trips to London, we took note of just how many restaurants, pubs and hotels were touting Sunday Roasts. Advertisements were everywhere.

Luxury hotels, oozing with grandeur, like CLARIDGE’S, THE CONNAUGHT and THE LANESBOROUGH carved their SUNDAY PRIME RIB ROAST elegantly at tableside from vintage rolling silver trolley’s for about $100 per person.

But it wasn’t just fancy places that served up a Sunday Roast. Old school pubs, many of them quite modest, were also in the game. THE AUDLEY, in Mayfair, served a version tempered with a weenie to lower the cost (the weenie was good, especially with an eye-watering dollop of hot English mustard). The price? About $40.

Other Sunday Roasts in that price range featured roast chicken or roast pork loin instead of roast beef. I have no doubt that if you ventured out of Mayfair into London’s less hoity-toity neighborhoods, you could enjoy a version of this dish for somewhat less than $40.

I can’t understand why it didn’t occur to me sooner, but recently I asked myself: WHY NOT SUNDAY ROAST AT MANNY’S?

And so it has begun. Chef Jason Smith invites you to enjoy a PROPER SUNDAY ROAST with all the trimmings:

Salt roasted, 40 day aged PRIME RIB ROASTED pink right to the edge, lashed with homemade gravy and served with warm crispy pan-roasted potatoes and root vegetables, accompanied by a freshly baked popover….Every Sunday, from 4:00 PM, priced $44.95.



P.S.  A bit of history: Sunday Roast has been an English tradition since the 15th century, when rounds of beef were spit-roasted and served only on the Christian Sabbath, as many abstained from weekday meat eating for reasons of religion. In fact, King Henry the VII is said to have commanded his chef to commence the roasting before church, so that the meal would be ready upon his return. Among those who joined him were his serfs and members of the Royal Guard (who, to this day, are referred to as “Beefeaters.”). I invite you to join us at Manny’s and make Sunday your Day of Roast.


  • May 23, 2024 at 6:46 pm

    How about Manny’s on Sept. 8?!!

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