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The Only Running Footman


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Apologies for starting a thread on such a lowly place, but this has been nagging at me for a few days now, and I want a second opinion.

Went to The Running Footman, a Mayfair pub recently gastro-refurbed by the same peopple behind The Bull in Highgate and The House in Islington. Press had been glowing ("never less than excellent" said someone who wasn't Masch in the Standard, "an inviting mix of robustness and sophistication" according to Circeplum, twice included in Time Out's top five, etc. etc).

It was a Friday night, so we went to the more formal (quite expensive) first-floor dining room rather than the noisy, jam-packed ground floor. First impressions were good: the waiter knew his stuff, the bread was fresh and there was a decent wine selection. Then to the starters, and oh dear. A "risotto with fine herbs, deep fried herbs and onion rings" was either undercooked by about 10 minutes, or had been made with an ordinary bag of long-grain. Claggy, without any evidence of the fried herbs. Onion rings were of the chip shop variety, plonked on top to no particular effect. Meanwhile, a parsnip soup was so bland it would have been suitable only for an intensive care ward.

To the mains: the three pre-shelled langoustine in a tagliatelle were sorry little creatures that, if they had not been frozen, had certainly grown up in a very cold loch. Meanwhile, something had gone horribly wrong with the Gloucester old-spot. There was a black layer on the base, about as thick and resistant as a shoe sole. This consistency was echoed by the crackling, while the meat in the middle had reached a sticky, glue-like texture.

So if the food's inedible, why not send it back? Fear, more than anything. We arrived (at 7:30) to an empty restaurant. By 8:05, when our food started arriving, every other seat had been taken. As the kitchen seemed incapable of dealing with our orders successfully, we were not confident to test what it would manage when it had 40 to deal with. Plus, the flaws seemed so fundamental that no amount of replating and reheating in the kitchen would improve matters. We settled the bill and fled.

I'm genuinely interested to find another punter with experience of this place. If this were simply a disappointing meal, I'd chalk it up to experience. But I'm baffled as to how somewhere so well received can go so spectacularly wrong. Was the kitchen just having the mother of all mares on the day I visited, or are the critics all suffering some kind of communal delusion?

Edited by naebody (log)
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