“WELL, that was worth the wait,” said my sister-in-law.
It’s testament to the food that its high quality was able to recompense for a bit of a wait at this family pub.
In The Cavalier’s defence, we visited on only the second Sunday since Juniper’s – who already run successful delis in Barnes and Fulwell – took over the reins in the kitchen.
Word of mouth had spread about Juniper’s @ The Cavalier and the place was packed to the rafters. We hadn’t booked ahead for the restaurant, a mistake on our part, but we were seated in the bar area instead.
It’s perfectly comfortable and has an informal atmosphere for people looking for a family-friendly dining experience. We took over one of the large rounded booths as we placed our order. My brother was able to watch the footy on the nearby big screens, but it wasn’t so loud and obtrusive that the rest of us couldn’t chatter amongst ourselves.
The perfect balance for a pub that’s aimed at appealing to all generations.
Sunday lunch runs from noon to 4pm and offers two courses for £11.50 and three for £14.
Chef David Gill, head honcho at Juniper’s, has become famed for his hearty British grub at his delis, especially his scotch eggs and sausage rolls, which knock socks off the mass-produced ones dished up at national bakery chains.
His trademark is stamped firmly on the new gastro pub menu offering at The Cavalier with starter options which include hot scotch egg with piccalilli, leek and North Sea fishcakes and chicken liver pâté.
Knowing that David always serves up big portions, I swerved a starter but my brother tucked into the scotch egg, a large round of duck and black pudding encasing a perfectly runny egg.
The mains are fuss-free Sunday dinners with all the trimmings. Just what you want.
Though the starter had arrived promptly, our mains arrived around almost an hour after ordering.
The staff were perfectly apologetic and though our tummies were well and truly rumbling by the time our food arrived, it was most definitely worth the wait.
My plate was piled high with two huge slices of beautifully tender beef. To the side was a cloud of Yorkshire pudding perfection: just the right amount of crisp on the outside and a light filling.
All roasts come with sage and black pepper stuffing, creamed potato, parsnips with bacon, mashed swede and carrot, broccoli and savoy cabbage.
Though the Yorkshire pud had made a valiant effort at stealing the show, the roast potatoes and gravy were the pièce de résistance.
Cooked with duck fat, they were a masterclass in roasties: a satisfying bite on the outside to reveal a moreishly fluffy inside.
A rich meat stock gravy – proper gravy, none of this packet stuff – was the cherry on the top of the cake.
Talking of cake, it’s worth trying to find space for pudding. We chose the morello cherry and dark chocolate cheesecake to share. It managed to strike the perfect balance between light and rich and was melt-in-the mouth good.
Juniper’s claim they want to be known for the “Best Sunday dinners in Sunderland.” Though teething problems may have caused a delay in our delicious meal, I think they may well have the recipe for success on their hands.