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Do you know the Rules of the Game?
Member Name: cmh4135
Date: 11/12/01, updated on 11/12/01 (156 review reads)
Advantages: speciality restaurant
Disadvantages: hot and pricey
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.