Rules, Covent Garden

Rules business card

Established in 1798, Rules is London’s oldest restaurant and even featured in an episode of Downton Abbey; the highlight of a long and lustrous existence you could say (jovial winky face!).

Rules outside

It was a handsome restaurant with velour banquette seating and plush carpets. Hundreds of framed pictures and paintings, along with deer heads, hung on the wood panelled walls; it felt like old fashioned glamour. There was also a gorgeous bar upstairs which I never knew existed; definitely worth remembering.

Rules interior photo

Things got off to a fairly slow start; it took an age for any member of staff to acknowledge our arrival at the table. When menus were finally presented, they came on a giant piece of laminated card which felt a bit cheap for such lavish surroundings.

Feeling a tad peckish, the four us started with some bread and butter (£3) which was pleasant but not worth paying extra for; the menu isn’t cheap, surely they could throw in the small portion of bread for free?!

Bread

Two of us decided to share ten Jersey rock oysters (£2.50 each) which were the smallest oysters I’ve come across, I’m talking seriously small. They tasted fresh at least, but five of the things left me feeling like I’d barely eaten anything.

Jersey Rock Oysters Rules

The chicken consommé (£8.95) served with chicken liver dumplings wasn’t the prettiest bowl of food; the lone dumpling reminded me of something a little less…savoury – I’ll leave it at that! The flavour of the glossy consommé was at least enjoyable though; light and delicate with a strong hit of chicken.

Chicken consomme Rules

As Rules is known for its meat, we couldn’t resist ordering the 850g roast rib of beef for two to share (£34.95 each) which was a seriously massive piece of beef. Served on a silver platter along with two humongous Yorkshire puddings (which suffered from soggy bottoms) and some proper crispy roast potatoes, it more than made up for my tiny oysters. The beef was cooked well, and although the flavour wasn’t as bold as the beef I’d previously devoured at Hixter or Goodman, it still left me feeling thoroughly satisfied. It was basically a really delicious roast dinner and I loved it.

850g roast rib of beef Rules

850g roast rib of beef Rules

The braised beef cheek (£23.95) was less impressive however. The cheek itself was soft and tender but the accompanying parsley mash and oxtail marmalade were completely devoid of flavour. And the sauce that drenched the whole thing had formed an unappetising skin on the top.

Braised beef cheek Rules

Suffering from a severe case of the meat sweats (oh the glamour!), we decided to share the golden syrup sponge pudding (£7.95). Once drenched in the jug full of custard, it did the job perfectly and ended things on a seriously sweet note.

Golden syrup sponge pudding Rules

Nothing was particularly wrong with our meal at Rules, but we all felt the food didn’t really justify the prices, and the service didn’t really match the surroundings. Our main waiter was a charmer, but the rest of the staff lacked charisma, being brusque at times. I’d gladly go back to that upstairs bar for a drink, but as for the restaurant, I’m glad I went, but I doubt I’d go again.

6/10

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4 responses »

  1. I had a work do there once. I love the history and the fact so many famous authors have eaten there. The food is a bit retro though…sherry trifle for dessert ;)
    Angie
    SilverSpoon London

    Reply
  2. That’s a shame. I haven’t been for years but it used to be a real treat and wonderful for old-style British cooking.

    Reply
  3. I went to Rules for a special birthday a couple of years ago and found it massively overrated. The food and service were just about acceptable in a Cote or Aubaine but not at Rules nor at Rules’ prices

    Reply
  4. I love the upstairs bar, but by all accounts Rules is the place to go when game season kicks in.

    Reply

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