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Had to go to Rules for a business lunch yesterday. Despite the fact this is “London’s Oldest Restaurant” I have never been before. The room is adorned with oil paintings and stags heads and lots of mirrors and red velvet. I liked the room, the tables were well spaced and there were lots of booths for intimate tete a tetes. And the clientele…well, lets just say I’ve never seen so many bald heads since I got stuck in the Hall of Mirrors with Simon Majumdar.

There are several good wines by the glass and I had a very pleasant NZ Sauvignon Blanc.

I started with Rabbit and Foie Gras Terrine (£9.95) which was disgusting. Served straight from the fridge, the terrine consisted of tasteless rabbit and minced carrots with a piece of foie in the middle and this was the killer - it tasted like no other foie gras I have ever tasted, it was bitter, vinegary and inedible. It was served with pear chutney which tasted overwhelmingly of cinnamon and was also used to accompany the Stilton and Walnut tart.

Main course was grilled cod with mussels, brown shrimps and parsley butter (£17.95). It was a well-cooked piece of cod apart from the skin – if fish is served skin-on then I want it to be crisp not flaccid and limp, this may have something to do with the fact that the parsley sauce was served over the fish instead of around it.. However, an accompanying salad was well dressed and generous. Two others at the table had the Roast Rib of Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Dauphinoise potatoes for two (19.95 each). A huge fluffy Yorkshire was ceremoniously brought to the table and divided between the plates. A large silver platter of thickly cut beef was served on a bed of roasted onions and spinach with a side of bubbling Dauphinoise. The Yorkshire pudding was excellent but the beef lacked flavour and was slightly tough, and this from a restaurant which waxes lyrical about “cattle raised in the High Pennines blah, blah” well, it’s just not good enough. Perhaps if one was to go back and try the game they specialise in, it might be better?

I just cannot understand why people (primarily in seemed 60year old businessmen and American tourists) are prepared to pay £10 for a starter and £20 for a main course for essentially mediocre food – is the fact the it is the oldest place in London really that alluring?

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Cheers for that Charlene. :smile:

I've always been slightly intrigued by Rules, but whenever I've looked in the window, it seems to be full of tourists. I used to always send visiting Americans and Japanese there and they loved it.

I think I'll give it a swerve myself :cool: To serve bad Foie is unforgivable :angry:

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I started with Rabbit and Foie Gras Terrine (£9.95) which was disgusting.  Served straight from the fridge, the terrine consisted of tasteless rabbit and minced carrots with a piece of foie in the middle and this was the killer - it tasted like no other foie gras I have ever tasted, it was bitter, vinegary and inedible.  It was served with pear chutney which tasted overwhelmingly of cinnamon . . .

Your lurid description has just put me off my mid-morning MacDonalds!

I just cannot understand why people (primarily in seemed 60year old businessmen and American tourists) are prepared to pay £10 for a starter and £20 for a main course for essentially mediocre food – is the fact the it is the oldest place in London really that alluring?

I certainly wouldn't pay the prices for what you were served. Do people go there for the atmosphere and the privacy perhaps? And if so, then they are prepared to pay for it?

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I used to always send visiting Americans and Japanese there and they loved it.

I wonder why they loved it? Do you think they come away thinking it is representative of English food and that they have just had a truly "English" experience rather than for the quality of the food. No wonder British food gets a bad rep!

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I wonder why they loved it?  Do you think they come away thinking it is representative of English food and that they have just had a truly "English" experience rather than for the quality of the food.  No wonder British food gets a bad rep!

In fairness I always tell them to order game. I think that the 'quaintness' of the place goes down well.

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We usually take our out-of-owners there, but we do stick to the feather and fur variety of dishes, which are quite good - I also sometimes order a yorkshire pudding on the side... I have had a taste of the fish & chips and it's not bad...

I have to say, their straters and desserts don't do anything for me...

What I have ranted about on another thread is the service, last time we went it was horrific - I wrote a letter the manager and got nothing but a lukewarm apology and a promise of better treatment next time, if we ask for him directly!

www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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We ate there about four years ago and were really disappointed. We were hoping for great British beef, perfectly cooked -- we got a tough piece of flavourless meat and came out feeling both stuffed and unsatisfied. The prices were very high as well. We were at a loss to understand how this could be, for a restaurant that makes such a fuss about sourcing and careful cooking.

Steve

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It's several years since I last went, but I have been to Rules half a dozen times, always ordered game and advised my guests to do the same, and I have never had a poor meal there. It's not haute cuisine, and it's not brilliant food, but it was alaways pretty good. I used to take American guests there, because it was very British food (back in the 80s) and of course because of the history.

Interestingly, one of my big complaints was overcrowding of tables (unless you got one of the few booths) so Charlene's comment about spacing suggests they've removed some tables. Perhaps, as a result of a downturn in the food, they just don't need so many tables now :laugh:

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  • 4 years later...

With four of us dining, there was a great opportunity for lots of tastes... We started with a bottle of '84 Pol Roger, Cuvée de Winston Churchill to accompany our appetizers, a terrine of duck foie gras served with rillettes and elderflower jelly, Brown Windsor soup with Welsh Rarebit, a special offering that day of fresh asparagus with Hollandaise and slivers of black truffles, and another special, Wiltshire rabbit country pâté which was easily my favorite, cut thick and redolent with pistachios, dried fruit, and topped with a spicy fig confiture. The asparagus was also a favorite; dining with folks who tend to shy away from vegetables, I somewhat believed I might get this beauties to myself, but others saw how hearty they were and they quickly disappeared.

I was very lucky to be dining with gentlemen who were amenable to sharing as the plates went on rotation around the table; roe deer loin with warm salad of wilted chicory, pear, and Stilton, rack of West Devon lamb with Anna Potatoes and mint sauce, fillet of beef on the bone with grilled bone marrow with a red wine sauce studded with black truffle bits, and the Rules' version of Blanquette de Veau, which I think was my favorite. It was served in two parts, the rice studded with fresh tarragon and black trumpet mushrooms and a copper pot with the creamy sauce, chunks of tender veal, and large fresh cepes. The fillet was tender and rich and paired well with our 2000 Nuits St. Georges Clos Saint Marc.

We finished our evening by opening an '86 D'Yquem and a number of desserts, sticky toffee pudding, apple tart tatin, a cheese plate, and some braised rhubarb. All of the desserts were excellent as was the service. I love the atmosphere at Rules and I love the old world-style service. It hearkens back to an era in which I wished I lived, somewhat Edwardian and classically elegant in the style of Escoffier and Ranhoffer. The food is not haute or molecular or even daring. There is an understated quality and charm that perhaps is best appreciated by those of a certain generation, but all I can say is that it makes me happy.

Pics and intro on the blog.

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I guess most people know what to expect from Rules, but I'll add a little to the thread just to correct the impression at the start of the thread that its universally bad, already done to an extent by Carolyn.

Game cooking here is good, not the best but good, and prices for game are pretty reasonable. I usually have Oysters to start, then some more Oysters which are good, then game in season, or out of season I have the Steak and kidney pie, which again is pretty good. The service is attentive, the atmosphere is clubby but jollier, the food is clubby but better (and, its fair to say, more expensive). Tourists love it, buts its not only a tourist gaffe.

Its also handy to note that it serves all day, rather than in narrow service times. The waiters and maitre'd have always given me very good, attentive service.

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Tourist here. Rule's and I really hit it off.

I went for a classic roast beef and yorkshire pudding dinner. Alas it was only available for two. Like all good tales, there is a happy ending.

Here is my write-up: Rule's At HollyEats.Com

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I too like Rules.

Convenient for the Royal Opera House, it is the perfect antidote to an evening of Wagner, but stay traditional with game or steak and kidney pie...

Institutions play by a different set of rules

S

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In my youth back in the early eighties I got kicked out of Rules with my drunken wine friends. Fond memories of that experience. I'll have to go back now I'm grown up.

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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The one time I ate at Rules I really enjoyed the Steak and Kidney pudding (with oyster) and mashed potato. Rich as hell, and I could barely move afterwards, but I was happy. Can't remember my starter, but a friend had the meat salad, which turned out to be an enormous plate of various cold meats. I was surprised he could even finish that, let along crack into his main course as well.

PS

Edinburgh

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  • 6 months later...

In over 30 years of visiting London, I can’t recall the number of times I’ve considered eating at Rules and dismissed it for one reason or another – back in the day, it was because I couldn’t afford it. More recently, because it was too stuffy; it was too touristy. In truth, I just hadn’t fancied it enough.

But this week, I thought “Hey, I am a tourist; I’m staying just round the corner and it is the season for game”. So, I booked and have to say I enjoyed my dinner. They cater for the single diner quite well, in my view – a small table only big enough for one. So, no removing of cutlery from the other side making you look like Billy No-Mates. Or worse, leaving it there, making it look like you’ve been stood up. And I was offered a choice of newspaper when I say down.

Potted Wiltshire rabbit was a pleasant enough starters if, perhaps, a tad subtle in flavour. It was perked up by a spoonful of pickled vegetables – although a bit more acidity would have worked. The star item on the plate was an apple chutney. Chutney is one of the few preserves I make at home and I know a good one when I taste it. And this was. Thick, sweet, sharp – a perfect chutney.

Loin of roe deer was the main. A deeply, deeply, flavoured piece of Bambi. Cooked to medium rare it was exactly as venison should be. It came with roasted chicory which added bitterness, heightened by a slight caramelisation (or burning if you prefer) but then softened and sweetened by Victoria plums. A perfect accompaniment. A side order of mash mopped up the remnants of the gravy.

A raspberry trifle was everything you want from a trifle. Of course, it wasn’t as good a trifle as my Mum used to make. But then Mum would have been horrified to a see trifle that wasn’t made from tinned peaches.

You go to Rules to eat classic British dishes and I find it hard to fault them. The bill, including a bottle of water and service, came to £56.

John Hartley

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I must confess to being a tad miffed that Rules, on its website, choses not to include among its other distinguished acclaims the coveted Five Grease Stains awarded by HollyEats .

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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