“ BRITISH / GAME. 35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7LB. Tel: +44 (0)20 7836 5314. Fax: +44 (0)20 7497 1081. Established in 1798, it is the oldest restaurant in London. Awarded Best Game Restaurant 1999 and nominated for Best British Restaurant 2000. „
Where: 35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden. London. WC2E 7LB.
Just off the Strand.
Nearest station: Charing cross.
Nearest tube station: Covent garden and Charing cross.
Rules Restaurant is London's oldest restaurant being over 200 years old. What is unique about Rules is that it serves up traditional English food using the freshest English ingredients including meat and game from its own Estate near Darlington, The Lartington Estate in Teesdale. When I say traditional English foods there is a curry of pheasant on offer for those who prefer something a little more exotic. I suppose it's a break with tradition and a move with the times after all curry is supposed to be the most eaten meal in the UK these days! Fresh fish and oysters are also on the menu.
Initially it was started by Thomas Rule in 1798 originally as an oyster bar who then later diversified into making game and oyster pies. It then developed into a restaurant. It has changed owners only three times in over 200 years.
On entering the restaurant you enter a reception area and there is an upstairs bar area where you can partake of the house speciality cocktails and to wait to be shown to your table or private dining room. The restaurants and private dining rooms are spread over three floors. On the ground floor there is a dining room that goes all the way back to the back of the shop. There are a number of stained glass tinted sky lights to let in natural light.
It is very tastefully decorated which adds to the uniqueness and character of the place. It is covered with wood panelling and various photos, pictures and drawings of the clientele who have frequented the place. The walls are also adorned by stag antlers one being used as a hat stand. There is also a big painting of Brittania with the face of Margaret Thatcher and for you younger members who may not be aware of who she is Margaret Thatcher was a formidable Primeminister who was in office from 1979 to 1990.
There are several private rooms upstairs for hire for intimate dining or to party dining. These offer discreet and intimate dining opportunities and are all tastefully decorated.
Previous clientele include famous actors, Laurence Olivier, Charlie Chaplin, Clarke Gable, writers and poets for example Charles Dickens, HG Wells, John Betjemen, nobility including royalty. Prince Edward later Edward the 7th used to entertain Lily Langtry here in the upstairs private dining rooms.
On being seated we were immediately visited by the wine waiter and ordered pre dinner drinks and given the extensive menu to browse and make our choice. As game is seasonal the menus change according to season. It was a very extensive menu with some interesting things on offer hare, pheasant, hen, rib of beef, lamb, Deer, Duck partridge, grouse.
All the food was served in an unhurried and courteous manner, nicely presented and hot although I thought the portions a little on the meagre size. There was enough time between courses to enable the course to digest and to actually be able to talk without feeling rushed. Desserts were old time favourites such as Golden Treacle sponge pudding and sticky date and toffee pudding to name a few. The food was well cooked and tasted nice but I did not feel it was that special.
The waiters wore pristine white aprons and served the food in an unhurried manner however after the meal they served an espresso coffee which was stone cold and when asked if we would like another I asked if it could be hot this time as the first one was cold they gave it to us complimentary.
Just to whet your appetite here are a few things that are available on the menu.
First courses range in price from £7.50 up to £22.00.
Included in this section are oysters, dressed crab, potted rabbit or potted shrimps. Brown Windsor soup or game soup to give you some idea of what's available.
Prices range from £17.95 up to £27.50.
A variety of fish is on the menu such as bass, smoked haddock, and fish of the day according to the season. The meat dishes include lamb, beef, deer cooked in various ways steak and kidney pie, steak kidney & oyster pudding, hare and different types of game including partridge, woodcock, grouse, duck and teal according to the season.
Side dishes or salads or vegetables range from £3.75 to £7.25.
Desserts are all £7.50.
Sticky date and toffee pudding, Golden treacle sponge, chocolate pudding, bread and butter pudding, spotted dick and raspberry syllabub.
Cheese board. £11.95 -£12.95.
The cheese board offered a super selection of British cheeses including, Stinking bishop, Cropwell bishop blue cheese to name a few.
The wine list offers were from £21 up to a whacking £420
The cost of the meal is negligible bearing in mind the history of the restaurant and for me I found it far too meat based and stodgy British fare which these days is not really for me. I enjoyed the food the quality and the taste was excellent but I am doubtful if I would take anyone there again unless it was to show how traditional British food should be presented. I think that it certainly was an interesting evening, unhurried and it seemed to attract quite a lot of thespians after the theatres finished for the evening. It is certainly good for people watching.
It is advisable to make a reservation as not only is it a very popular restaurant it is in the heart of theatre land and gets booked up quite quickly. Open from Midday to 11:30 but only 10:30 on Sunday night.
The following link will take you to the web site of Rules.
Telephone bookings: 0207 836 5314
Quality of food. Excellent.
NOT SUITABLE FOR VEGETARIANS!
I am only rating this restaurant four because I dont believe that it serves the best of British food however it is right up there with some of the best because of its nostalgia.
The glorious 12th, a brace of grouse and a flat cap. What better way to mark the end of the summer than with a game shoot in the rolling English countryside, or better still, the Scottish heath lands. The sound of the shot and the gun as it recoils, the smell of the gunpowder and dogs that fetch the birds falling out of the sky. The camaraderie and post-shoot party where Lord Johnson-Smyth has a little too much Laphroig whisky before declaring the Mrs Fortesque is his mistress. Or then again….. If you enjoy game but don't fancy the thought of shooting and, more to the point, hanging (, plucking) and gutting the meat yourself, yet can't abide what passes for game in the average restaurant (over cooked duck a l'orange) then head for Rules in London's Covent Garden. Rules is London's oldest established restaurant, dating back to 1798. It specialises in game, oysters, pies and pudding - quintessential English fare. Situated at 35 Maiden Lane it is well placed to serve pre-theatre meals although to really experience Rules I feel that one must dedicate a whole evening to sampling the delights it has to offer. The current owner of Rules is fortunate enough to own an estate in the Pennines and it is from here that much of the game is sourced, hung and cured. The fact that it is home sourced means that Rules can impose its own rules on how the game is farmed. It is all free range. The building itself is reason enough to visit this restaurant. The walls are a testament to the many famous people who have dined here. Much of the building is original with stained glass skylights and panelled walls. Due to the original nature of the building the restaurant, spread over three floors can often seem cramped and it is always very hot. One concession that the restaurant has made to modernisation is the acceptance that the staff need not run backwards and forwards to the kitchen. Each staff
member now has an electronic pad which takes your order and communicates it to the kitchen instantly. So what do you eat? Starters vary in price from £7 to £12 and so you will see that this is not a cheap place to eat. Perhaps you would try the cream of herb soup with roasted king scallop, celeriac and hazelnut oil (served hot or cold) or maybe the fois gras and duck terrine with walnut and raisin bread, sauterne and port jelly. Not very PC but…. For main do consider whatever they have on special and expect to pay around £20 for a dish. The deer and teal come highly recommended. Then dessert. You cannot eat at Rules and not have dessert. At £6.75 they are also far from cheap but must be experienced. My old favourite, a sauterne crème brulee has disappeared off the menu but I would recommend them all! The cheese board is simply spectacular. You cannot smoke in the restaurant (thank goodness) but can hire a private dining room if you must. The wine list is particularly impressive from £13.95 a bottle to £395.00, something to suit most. If in doubt ask for a recommendation. If you want to keep the cost down then they do pre- and post- theatre deals, £19.95 for any starter and any main course between the hours of 3-5 and 10-11.30pm Monday to Friday (except in December). I would thoroughly recommend this restaurant if you enjoy good food and a convivial atmosphere. For any veggies who are still with me this really is not the place for you. There are constant reminders of what you are eating and no mistaking a bird on a plate. Booking is almost essential here, especially at the start of the Game season (12 August) and at Christmas. If there are more than two of you do not count on getting a table. Rules have come right up to date in this regard and you can now make a booking enquiry for a table of up to 6 people via their website (www.rules.co.uk) although you have to wait for your enqui
ry to be confirmed before it is a booking. You can also view the menu online (including some specials). Alternatively you can be traditional and contact them on the dog and bone: Restaurant reservations: 020 7836 5314 Private room reservations: 020 7379 0258.
I must say that I was a little dubious about going to rules for dinner... expensive restaurants have always suggested to me a complete waste of money, and when I found out that Rules was the oldest restaurant in London, i was worried that it was also going to be the most off-puttingly posh. I was lucky enough to be invited to a private party on one of the upper foors. In my brief visit downstairs I noticed very smart people being turned away as the restaurant was fully booked - it was not however, crowded, just comfortably cosy. We were led up several secret winding passageways and creaky staircases, all of which decorated in atmospheric artefacts. the entire Restaurant smelt of the wonderful aromas of fantastic cooking from many, many years that had all been lingering in the hallway to make you as hungry as physically possible. The room was furnished with a grand fireplace, a huge dining table, a private bar with bottles of every drink you can imagine, and our own foreign chappy to pander to our every whim, and very lovely he was too! The meal was a set menu and I would really rather not try and think about how much it cost (aargh, just think about how we got to work on that open bar). the first course was the more-or-less standard (as far as i can tell by looking at expensive menus) foie-grais, not something that i had any particular want to try... but nibbled slightly just to please my boss. The main course was venison, a meat to which i was new, served with a potato rosti and redcurrant sauce. but the pudding... oh yes, the pudding was to die for. chocolate orange mouse more fantastic than anything you have ever tasted!!!!!!!!!!!! Followed by a huge wall of biscuits and a cheeseboard that makes you sweat just looking at it... we we treated to our own entire stilton!!!!! The service was incredibly polite and patient (considering a large group of blokes (and little old me) getting steadily drunker and row
dier as the night progressed). I must also say, I have never been to a restaurant with your own private miniatures of molton brown cosmetics in the loos!!! I enjoyed it but i probably won't be going back unless i get a considerable pay rise.
Rules is one on its own. Founded in 1798, it's the oldest continuously operating restaurant in London, yet somehow it has managed to avoid becoming a kitschy tourist magnet. It has a wonderfully archaic, cluttered and panelled Gents' Club atmosphere, and a menu that boasts the best of British cuisine (for once, this isn't an oxymoron). The food is consistently superb (if not cheap) and proves just how fine British cooking can be when it's approached with a light and canny hand (the excellent, correct but relaxed, staff are another welcome modern touch). Don't miss the game when it's in season, and if you ask for Stilton, don't be surprised when you're brought a whole cheese and two spoons to dig out as much as you can manage.
Tired of hearing foreigners making fun of British cuisine? Take them to Rule’s in Covent Garden, London’s oldest restaurant and give them a taste of real English cooking at its best. The only problem with Rule’s is the mouth watering choice. Perhaps you’ll have a tankard of ale while perusing the menu. Potted shrimps to start followed by real steak and kidney pudding served in a small pot with either a golden brown pastry crust or suet on top? Problem is that you’ve got to leave room for the treacle sponge and clotted cream afterwards! The menu is excellent with something to suit most tastes. The quality really is first class and enough to silence the harshest of critics. There is always a seasonal selection of fresh game raised on Rule’s own estate on the menu. Fish and vegetarian selections are also available if that’s not your thing. Service is excellent. The staff, who seem to be mostly of antipodean origin but none the worse for it, are very friendly and knowledgeable and will be happy to advise you on your choice. The wine list is very good and not extortionately priced. Wines used to be categorised as French, Italian and ‘From the former colonies’ to encompass America and Australia. Sadly, this categorisation has been done away with, perhaps in deference to American tourists who didn’t wish to be reminded that we gave them their independence! The atmosphere is very plush, comfortable and traditional, the only outward signs of modern technology being the electronic ‘beaming’ of orders to the kitchen and the laminated menu cards. This is one of my favourite restaurants and I taken a number of people there. It never fails to impress. Admittedly it’s not cheap but it is well worth it, whether you are looking for a long lunch, pre or post theatre dinner. Booking is strongly advised.