Yelp strikes again! After being turned away from many traditional (and highly rated on Yelp) British pubs because we were dining with a minor, Rules Restaurant saved the day. Despite the fact that our family was clearly under-dressed compared to the other patrons and the wait staff, they didn't turn us away. While my husband and I do prefer to dress appropriately when we dine, we also realize that our money is green (or multi-colored as the case may be) like everyone else, our son very well mannered, and our appreciation of good food hard to beat.
While I would have loved to stay for an entire fixed menu, the host had made it clear when we arrived that the only table he had for us was reserved by another party in 2 hours, so we settled for a salad and main course.
All was delicious! Clearly, my somewhat low opinion of traditional British food was formed by eating at all the wrong places! All of our salads (green and a beet/goat cheese) were as fresh and crisp as could be and perfectly dressed. Our "main" courses (daube of beef, the rabbit hot pot, and the wild boar pie) were simply out of this world delicious! And the wine....oh the wine. Perfectly paired, and perfectly French.
Overall a very nice experience with excellent food and wine and a pleasant, if reserved, wait staff. Next time I find myself in London looking for a quiet, relaxed place to dine I will know exactly where to go.
(PS I marked this restaurant as "not good for kids" despite the fact that our 10 year old son enjoyed his meal and experience. He is an unusual boy with lots of dining experiences under his belt and incredibly good restaurant manners and presence. If yours are the same, then by all means bring them!)
We came following a suggestion of a friend of us. Nice ambient. Really British.
Food disappointing: roast monkfish without salt
The butler steak good but nothing special
One visit in your trip to London is more than enough
Every now and then, we should all treat ourselves, or someone else, to something really nice. One thing I realise is that it's not British food that's the problem, it's the cooking of it.
Rules is London's oldest restaurant and there are some great pictures on the walls. If memory serves me correctly, didn't King Edward VII and Lily Langtry visit Rules and hide away in a corner?
It's not the biggest restaurant on the planet, and I think that when it's full, it's possibly quite noisy. When I was there, it was a Sunday afternoon and not very busy. This made it easier when the waiter was explaining to me where the food actually came from and all of that. Apparently, Rules has a country estate in Norfolk or somewhere around there.
My absolute favourite dish of all is the Summer Pudding. Sure, you can get it frozen from Sainsbury's, but Rules makes it properly, and boy, was it just absolutely delicious.
In a way, you can't go wrong in a place like Rules. Being in Covent Garden, parking can be a problem though. If you're heading to the theatre, make sure you allow enough time at Rules, especially if it's busy.
Sure, it'snot the cheapest place around. Even without wine, you could easily spend 50 quid per person or so. But you could spend less if you wanted to.
Just like no visit to Paris is complete without a visit to an old-school bistro, no visit to London is complete without a stop at Rules. London's oldest restaurant for some proper British fare.
For my first trip to London, I wanted to experience authentic, traditional British food and Rules was the perfect restaurant for my first taste. Rules is filled with history - from the red velvet drapes to all of the oil paintings of aristocrats lining the walls, eating at Rules feels like you've just stepped into a posh hunting lodge (however, it can fill a bit stuffy).
Expect formal and brisk service which can be a little stodgy at times, but it was an experience nonetheless.
You definitely have to get the Kate Middleton cocktail.
I had a very refreshing watercress soup and three different varieties of oysters which all tasted fresh and of the ocean. I was a little disappointed with the cheese selection. Since it was served last, was hoping it would have come with a sweet accompaniment like honey or nuts instead of onion jam.
Everyone, stop what you are doing and go get a Rules Cocktail. Yes, the cocktail at Rules called The Rules. It rules.
The atmosphere was eclectic, old school and very fun. Service was great, food was great, and it served as a perfect place to end our vacation.
Skip the wine list and go straight for the cocktails. Well balanced cocktails that don't scream "I have alcohol in me!" and are crafted with care.
I started with a green salad. Not sure it was worth the 9 quid but it was REALLY good.
For a main course I had the lamb special with mint sauce. Very nice size portion of the lamb, a little fatty though. The mint sauce cut through the fat and lightened it up a big which was nice. The vegetables were cooked to perfection.
I finished my meal with the Blood Orange Parfait. Delicious. Blood Orange Sorbet on a crunchy granola crust, very refreshing and unique. The actual blood oranges on the plate had no flavor, however, could have done without.
Prices are not for the shallow pocketed. But, you do get a well cooked meal.
A knocked off a star because I think the prices were a little too high, though not by much, and our table for two was, quite literally, slanted.
Whole Wheat Bread with Butter
Cured Duck Breast with Endive, Candied Nuts, Stilton Dressing
Chicken, Bacon, Tarragon Pie
Double Cooked Chips
Sticky Toffee Pudding with Caramelized Walnuts
Golden Syrup Sponge Pudding with Custard
Proudly presenting itself as London's Oldest Restaurant I generally knew that venerable Rules Restaurant on Maiden Lane was unlikely to wow after lunch at The Fat Duck but with modest expectations of British classics served in a storied environment I booked a table for one at 7:00pm, several hundred World Cup revelers crowding the streets and unfortunately rendering me nearly ten minutes late. Officially listed as a historic building and serving patrons since 1798 in grand confines heavy with wood and ornamentation it was by a rather stiff maitre d' that I was greeted on entry and with my tardiness duly noted I offered my apologies, his mood somewhat softening as he showed me the way to a spacious two-top with a wide view of the room. Obviously a space frequented by tourists but seated with natives both left and right it was after a short wait that my server arrived and with menus for food and wine offered I declined the later and briefly perused the specials, none particularly enthralling and thus leaving me to the things I'd targeted before walking through the doors. Bustling and busy with service not particularly as refined as the tuxedos would indicate it was again after some delay that my first plate arrived and requesting some bread to accompany the salad my starter would prove pleasant, the funky stilton and tender duck finding their foil in crisp greens and sugared nuts. With the kitchen apparently finding its footing after my first course as four tables received food in a near-simultaneous fashion it was in another duo that I indulged for my main course and although the soufflé-style chips proved a touch less crisp than I'd have preferred the golden pie was delicious - a tall and proud pastry teaming with tender chicken, smoky pork, and earthy aromatics. At this point impressed enough by food to say I'd made a suitable choice it was to desserts that I turned and with an Americano requested in accompaniment the two classics I'd sought on several prior menus soon arrived - the sticky toffee pudding a toothache inducing classic but nowhere near as rousing as the subtle vanilla sponge, a sort of booze-less baba ready to soak up every drop of warm custard served at its side.
Did you, like me, forget to grow up in mid-1800s London? Well then don't fret - just head over to Rules!
I was in London on business with a colleague and Rules stood out to us because it is London's oldest restaurant. Like a bunch of self-important Americans, of course we were underdressed, but the staff sat us immediately and were very courteous regardless.
They were having a steak special - I forget the exact name - but it was a special type of beef that they only got on occassion. I went for it and was glad I did, it was very delicious.
The bottom line is that this place screams old school gentleman's London. Classy staff who are very courteous, excellent wine, and scrumptuous food prepared masterfully. The doorman in the tails was a very nice touch. I hope to visit this place again for a special dinner next time I am in Jolly Ole'.
Slink upstairs to a red velvet cocktail bar/lounge/drawing room, be theatrically but seriously served expertly mixed drinks by a suited waiter, sit up straight and enjoy the understated elegance of a proper cocktail bar.
Current London cocktail prices hover around £8 mark and can be very hit or miss, Rule's menu starts at £14 I believe and every one is a hit.
Our favorite experience at a restaurant abroad - there is nothing like an old school amazing menu, and amazing service. The food is ridiculously good, and the people watching is even better - you could sit next to a duke headed to the newest symphony in town, or tourists from Sydney enjoying their anniversary (actually, exactly who we were sandwiched between).
Order... everything. You can't go wrong.
For my last dinner in London I went to Rules on a recommendation. This ended up being a very good choice. I understand why it's the oldest restaurant in London and has stuck around all this time.
So I get there and the first thing I notice is the décor. It's older, bunt done very beautifully, a bit of a mash of painting and game.
I started off with the Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, this was excellent and really set the stage for the main course! The Spiced Leg of Lake District Lamb was my choice, and the lamb was cooked perfectly. While I can't remember the name of the wine, I know it was wonderful and I believe a Bordeaux.
Dessert was inspired, Golden Syrup Sponge Pudding. This was so good I nearly ordered two of them, but that would have just been too much. Everything tasted excellent. Finally I had a pot of the Earl Grey tea, served as loose tea with all that comes with.
I would absolutely consider returning here on my next visit.
In defense of Rules....
Rules, like St. Paul's is eternal. With its odd traditional and wonderful offerings It stands the tests of times; the Blitz, politicians, the sexual revolution and the frequent tourists in from the provinces for a "night at the Theatre".
I find great comfort in dining here. It is consistently fine. The service is superb. Like Rules, our family's London roots go back to the early 1800's. For generations Rules has fed our family through lunches and late nights. I will never forget the maitre di greeting my mother by name after a 20+ year absence in the late-70's and gently joking that is was a bit early in the evening to be seeing her.
I call "foul" on those declaring this old friend a tourist trap. Perhaps that sort of comment speaks more to the yelper's not possessing the appropriate demeanor to pass as a Londoner.
I had a business dinner here several years ago, which involved a foie gras. Both the foie gras and the dinner companions made me sick immediately and for some time thereafter. i would recommend staying away from both.
In its defense: the place is famous for its age, which may explain the quality of the foie grass.
I grew up hearing about this place. My parents are anglophiles, and ate here on one fabled trip to England during the 1970s. When I came to London for my junior (third) year abroad during my BA, my dad constantly pestered me to visit Rules. I did not.
Then I came back five years later to study my MA in London. My dad constantly pestered me to visit Rules. I did. When my mom came to visit me here. And picked up the check.
And I'm glad we went.
I felt similarly to Michael D. - Rules is not my typical kind of place, but it was much enjoyed. It is a delightful mix of upscale stuffy and quirky English with a great interior. English through and through, oh yes. And definitely delicious, not in spite of its Englishness, but because of it!
Mom had the Caesar salad to start, a glass of white, and the fish pie. Smelled so smokey and delicious I wished I had ordered it. I enjoyed roasted pheasant and a glass of red. It was all marvelous and we didn't even have room for dessert!
100th review of London's oldest restaurant.
I had never been to Rules in all the time that I lived in London in the 1990s. I had never even heard of it. I suppose I was young and didn't go to places like this in my 20s. Probably I would not have even had a place like this on my radar.
For our 5th wedding anniversary I took my wife to London and chose Rules for the anniversary dinner. The world always puts British food as a butt of a joke. They mark it as bland and overcooked, but the truth is that when done well, though simple, can stand on its own against any cuisine. Rules is the best example of this.
We walked over from our hotel that sat below Trafalgar Square, though Covent Garden and on to Maiden Lane where Rules is located. Rules is not your typical restaurant. It cannot be put into a box as one thing. It is both formal and casual-quirky and traditional. It is all that is British through and through.
I brought my own bottle of wine, which they do not like and charge a £25 corkage fee for, but I had chosen the wine five years earlier for this specific night and was not going to deviate from my plan. They have a great wine list, and I probably would have done better, as far as pairing, if I had used their sommelier.
I started dinner with the Foie Gras Terrine with apricot & toast and Ting had a half dozen Duchy of Cornwall Rock Oysters. The Foie Gras was rich and buttery, like silk if it could melt. The oysters tasted of the dark, cold, salty sea and could not have been fresher.
My main course was Scallops with Braised Pork Cheeks, carrot & ginger, and hers the Fillet of Sea Bass with white beans, summer vegetables & a light basil broth. Both were magnificent. My scallops were sweet and tender and the cheek separated at the touch of the fork. The bass was flavorful and perfectly cooked. The vegetables and broth that accompanied it were subtle and delicious.
We both have a sweet tooth and I love English desserts. We shared two-the Sticky Toffee Pudding with caramelised walnuts and the Apple & Blackberry Crumble with custard. Both were exactly as they should be-toothsome and traditional.
By far the best part of the evening was sitting across from my beautiful wife of five years and telling her that they were the best of my life.
This is a great place for those who want to feel like they've stepped into a restaurant that you might see on a BBC period production. In fact, I believe it was mentioned in passing on Downton Abbey. The food is also a sort of classic British cuisine... for better or for worse. It's not my taste, but it's done well. I've used this place for business dinners for those visiting from outside of London and it seems to get the job done.
If you want to impress, this is the place. The history, the decor, the food and the service - everything is exceptional. I've been here twice during one trip and it did not dissapoint. It has lasted a long time (oldest restaurant in London) and the reason why is because it's great!
-Opened by Thomas Rule in 1787, making it the oldest restaurant in London.
-The restaurant owns Lartington Estate in the High Pennies where a lot of hunting goes down, hence the restaurants' emphasis on game birds, roe deer and Belted Galloway beef
-In addition to obviously being a restaurant, Rules offers a Cocktail Masterclass for those interested in learning more about classic mixology
-On their website, they feature reviews and letters about Rules submitted by famous people including Nigella Lawson circa 1991
-Old school doesn't even begin to describe the room there at Rules- the restaurant has been standing since the 1700s and they apparently have not changed a single thing. There are old photos, paintings and busts on the wall of significant British figures, and an abundance of antlers and other hunting gear all around.
-The wooden tables are draped in white linens, but in no way will this resemble the high-end dining experience one may be accustomed to. Seriously, the room is more haunted house than Michelin Star.
-There are two private dining rooms (which I popped by head into)
-The demographic is largely 70+ wealthy folk who are well dressed and definitely not tourists- with my cute summer dress and my camera strapped around my waist, I stood out like a sore thumb.
-Service at Rules is professional to say the least- the mature servers wear white collars and black suits and approached the table with a level of sophistication. Despite the high-brow approach, the servers were surprisingly friendly and laid back.
-Water glasses were refilled, cutlery replenished as needed, and the meal moved at a very comfortable lunch time pace - in and out in approximately 1 hour
-A short list of British cocktails like the Black Velvet (Champagne and Guiness-yikes), and the Kate Middleton (Sipsmith, Pinky Vodka, Lillet, Crystallised Violets, and Rose Petals), with London Pride and Draught Guinness on tap. They also serve wine by the glass and bottle.
-We had a long day ahead of us so asked for an off-the-menu unsweetened iced tea, which the chef made for us from scratch.
-Old school British with a heavily focus on game meats like Guinea Fowl, quail, rabbit, duck, pigeon, roe deer and more
-The menu is divided into Oysters, First Courses, Pies, Mains, Veggies, and Puddings and Cheese
-Upon our visit it was Grouse season so they had a separate menu for items featuring this game meat (which I had never tasted before!)
Pea & Bacon Soup with Crème Fraiche (7.95)
Simple but delicious. Very smooth with deliciously salty bits of bacon and just enough luxurious crème fraiche to smooth it out.
Dorset Crab on Toast with Heritage Tomatoes & Herb Mayonnaise (15.95)
My favourite savoury dish of the meal- the tomatoes were absolutely stunning, and the crab salad was plentiful and not overly dressed with mayo.
Grouse Salad with Watercress, Pickled Giroulles, Blackberries and Cobnuts ( 12.50)
I definitely liked the flavour of the gamey grouse with the sweet blackberries, but the meat was unpleasantly overcooked and dry.
Potatoes Anna (4.50)
Simple and comforting, the potatoes were cooked nicely with a good crispy crust and tender interior, but I found them underseasoned.
Treacle Sponge Pudding with Custard & Clotted Cream (7.95)
Wow. I am so glad I finally got to try treacle because I am officially obsessed. It is a lot like a sticky toffee pudding, but brighter, lighter and sweeter, the pudding had a fabulous citrus flavour to counteract the sweet sticky treacle. Topped off with a generous pour of custard to cut some of that sugar, and I was one happy girl.
-65 including tax and tip ($106 Canadian) - very expensive considering we thought we had eaten relatively light.
-While it's certainly not a place I would ever see myself as a regular, I am glad I checked it out for the old school British experience.
We were recommended to eat at rules for experience of one of the oldest restaurants in London and traditional food. The decor is great makes you feel like you are transported 100 years ago with all of the traditions of great service. Food gras was delicious, great appetizer. Pies were pretty good though a little salty for my taste. You can hear some great stories if you ask anyone from the staff.
Rules is an experience that you need to have at least once. It's the oldest restaurant in London. It's featured in Downton Abbey. My father was in town, so we treated ourselves to check it out. Yes, it is sometimes labeled as a tourist trap, but there are plenty of the higher members of London society also dining.
It was established in 1794 complete with tons of stories about the royals and celebrities surrounding the establishment. There's actually a secret entrance for the royal family as well as a private club to be invited too. The walls are decorated with photos, paintings, clocks, etc. from over the years. The atmosphere was elegance left over from the days gone by. And, the food was divine!
I ordered the Kate Middleton 29 signature drink to start with before switching to wine with my father. Absolutely amazing.
We had course after course including filet, crab cake salad, and plenty of options for dessert.
I highly recommend the experience!
Went here for Easter dinner for a nice beef roast. Very interesting decor...lots to look at. They took us early so that was great because we were starving! We ordered the roast beef for 2 and the portion size was huge! The meal was very nice...except for the slug on the salad..lol..it happens. They did take off the charge for the wine though so that was very impressive.
Wonderful. The signature cocktail was a delight! Service was great
This place was definitely something to behold. If Rules is to be called a "tourist trap", I'm thankful that it's a tourist trap done right (Not actually sure I'd classify it that way, to be honest!)
Apparently, as this is London's oldest restaurant, there was a lot done to preserve its original integrity. Founded in 1798, the decor, the ambiance is so -different- from anything I've ever been to.
I'm a bit of a dreamer, and I found myself wondering what it was like, when it opened. Pale women, curly hair framing their face, in their fashionable empire gowns, comfortable, laughing. And their partners, men with short hair, sideburns, carrying their hats as they led their ladies in. It's a thing of wonder to feel the ghosts of generations pass through you when you enter a restaurant - not literal ghosts, of course, but just - hearing the laughter and the warmth that once was.
It's not hard to imagine - the floor, the ceiling (oh, the ceiling!) can be stared at for hours. Compared to the feeling you get by being here, the food is nearly inconsequential - but it is solid, good British food. I would've really liked for their to have been a cod option with the fish and chips, but the haddock was still quite nice. This place is only slightly pricey, but not pricey compared to the ambiance and the joy of having eaten here. I've definitely paid more for a burger in the USA.
Going to Rules should be a rule! (I almost went with 'Rules RULES!' but that just seemed silly, ha!)
On my first visit to the U.K. in 1974, my wife and I dined at Rule's, largely due to having been told it was a favorite of Charles Dickens. We had a delightful evening--good food and efficiently pleasant surface. Alas, the food, itself, is unmemorable as we had dined the previous evening at an exquisite place near our hotel, Brown's, called the Snooty Fox. The next year when we returned, we invited our dear friend Mary whom we had met the previous year on an hotel barge on the Thames to be our guest at the Snooty Fox. Here, the maitre de remembered us, largely, I suspect, because we had tipped before on the total bill, including VAT, not knowing we didn't need to. In any event, I would go back to Rule's as to other longtime favorites such as The Ivy and Wilton's. I do miss such favorites as Lacy's and the Guinea Grill.
the oldest accredited restaurant in London, Rules serves traditional English fare with a flair. Granted it is expensive and parking practically non existent but in London everyone uses the tube anyway. The atmosphere is quintessentially English and the service discreet. I can't recommend one particular dish as everything is excellent. If you are not well versed in wine the sommelier knows his stuff. Well worth the money and effort. Better book though! Don't forget to leave room for a traditional English pudding.
Dining at Rules feels a bit like being transported back to a bygone era (as in the fantasy rose-tinted version, rather than how things probably really were for most people in the 1800s).
It's not hard to imagine having just stepped out of your carriage as the doorman opens the door and sweeps you in from the cold to be cloistered in a velvet covered booth beneath the antlers and copious wall ornaments.
The oldest restaurant in London is literally steeped in history and it's all on display. The waiter was happy to discuss and explain the various pictures adorning the walls and encouraged a little tour around on the way to the bathroom to get a good look at everything, which was nice.
With so much effort invested in the venue, one might fear the food wouldn't come up to par, but it so did! For lunch I went for the blade of beef with bone marrow and parsley mash, which was melt in your mouth delicious. And the pies, particularly the steak and kidney pie, were also extremely good, with a thin pastry crust filled with proper meat and accompanied by a rich gravy.
Rules is exclusively supplied beef from the Gilmonby herd of pedigree Belted Galloways farmed in the north-east near the Pennines, where they also own Lartington Hall Park estate from which their game is sourced. So that accounts for the quality of the meat.
You need to order some sides of vegetables to go with the dishes, and the green beans were cooked perfectly with a bit of crunch still. And everything got washed down with a rather lovely bottle of Saint-Émilion selected from a decently ranging wine list (particularly if you have a preference for French).
The choux pastry dessert with creme patissiere, praline & almonds was so light it felt like no effort to eat it all, and it looked exquisite as well. The warm chocolate fondant was also just right, with a hint of mint to take the edge off the richness.
It's necessary to book ahead as it was a full lunch service on a Saturday, although there is the option of eating the same menu upstairs in the cocktail bar, which wasn't busy.
Throughout the meal the service was attentive without being intrusive but it was a long and relaxed lunch at two and a half hours (although didn't drag - it had just the right balance), so be prepared to take your time, sit back and enjoy it.
The cocktail bar looked like the kind of inviting place you could easily lose an entire evening, so certainly something to go back for!
My wife and I are steak lovers and the rib of beef at Rules is arguably the best we've ever had in the UK. We ordered it medium rare and it came cooked to perfection. The meat was tender, juicy, flavorful and have really nice texture. The gravy complimented the meat well as it did not drown out the beef flavor. It is a dish for two to share and comes with green beans , Yorkshire pudding and potatoes which were really good as well. The service was top notch and the host even shared some fun facts and history about Rules being the oldest restaurant in London. Would highly recommend trying it out!
For my friends birthday, we came for a late lunch at Rules. They accommodated us very quickly and easily. The menu here is phenomenal. Seeing as we don't do big fancy lunches or dinners often, the five of us decided to just go for it. Why not right, we are at the oldest restaurant in London after all.
We started off with one of their speciality drinks called The Grouse, which is Famous Grouse, Ginger Wine and Bitters. If you've never had one, think of a Whiskey Sour but WAY better. My friends tried both styles of oysters available, they preferred the Duchy Native Oysters over the Frenchman's Creek Rock Oysters. I didn't partake, mostly due to the whole being allergic to all seafood thing. They seemed to quite enjoy it. I had the crisp wild rabbit, which was okay, but would have preferred frog legs or quail.
For the main course, two of my friends decided to split the Deer loin and what was called Jugged Hare. We asked the waiter what exactly Jugged Hare was as we had never heard of it. It consists of wild hare stewed and cooked in its own blood. IN.ITS.OWN.BLOOD!. In the spirit of the afternoon, it was ordered. None of my friends liked it at all, complaining of a sharp after taste. When I gave it a go, I immediately loved it. Later on, our waiter informed us that only about 1 in 5 people that order it like it. On this afternoon, I was the one.
Overall, the service was fantastic, our waiter was very friendly, helpful and put up with us when we got a bit out of hand. My rib eye steak was massive and cooked to perfection. Everything that I tried off of others plates was spectacular and the overall experience here was great. I would definitely recommend coming here if you are looking for a real nice outing.
This is a must do! 4 stars for the food, 4 for the service and 6 for the experience. Your not going to find this many places on the planet. The maître d's are iconic, the atmosphere like dining at Downtown Abbey.
Reservations are a MUST and do dress up! I noted the shabbily attired were welcome but they were also seated under the staircase on the way to the WC.
The herb salad was very nice a simple olive oil dressing. The Steak and Oyster pie was wonderful but GET THE HORSERADISH! It was the highlight of the meal and I almost missed it. From what I can see, you can't go wrong with any dessert. Note: The more popular dishes were 86'd by the end of the night. I dinned at 8:30PM on a Saturday.
Was recommended to eat here when I asked a flight attendant what to try while in London. She told me about to visit the oldest restaurant in London and have " the rib of beef on the bone," which I tried.
I made reservations a few days before and was welcomed upon my arrival with a doorman in the front. The really wasn't a strict dress code, but noticed a lot of people in suits, which mad me feel kind of under dressed. The place was decorated with dear heads and old paintings and sketches. The menu had aot of game meat like rabbit,duck,goose, and deer. It also had steak, cod, and, halibut.
I had the rib of beef with my wife, which was good enough for two people. It was kind of like slices of prime rib sliced, with fried potatoe balls,which reminded me of giormous tator tots, peace carrots, and Yorkshire pudding.
The food was very good and the service was above and beyond making the dinner experience nice and elegant, and is highly recommended while in London. However, I had better in LA and has no competition to, which is why I couldn't give it 5 stars.
When I learned I would be studying in London for three and a half months, there was one place I knew I had to go to no matter what: Rules.
I made a reservation just for myself because, alas, none of my fellow study abroad students were willing to shell out pounds for a meal they probably wouldn't like anyway.
When I arrived, I affirmed the fact that this was the fanciest restaurant I had been to (this is back in 2006 when I was just breaking onto the dining scene.) I was addressed as "mademoiselle" (isn't this an English place?) and had my coat gently removed from my shoulders and carried off by a smartly dressed host.
I was then led to a table with a seat for one person. It was nestled in a comfortable corner, and had an adorable selection of British newspapers above my head (because a single diner needs SOMETHING to do.)
Since I didn't want to spend all of my money, I decided to be pretty conservative and only get an entree and dessert.
As I waited and sipped my bottled water (be careful about specifying tap or else you'll be spending an extra four pounds) I looked around me. Men as far as the eye can see, and all very masculine. Business-like, buddy buddy. I saw a few couples, but groups of men dominated the restaurant. That being said, I was the only all-female party in the space.
Then the food arrived. I decided to have the steak and kidney pudding, because it seemed like a classic and a dish I could never get in New York. It was delicious....except for the kidneys. Not Rules' fault, but I just discovered I don't like kidneys. A side of delicate, buttered savoy cabbage made up for it though.
For dessert I went with the warm chocolate cake served with marmalade swirl ice cream and chocolate sauce. Even two and a half years later, I vividly remember being surrounded by three waiters, and how I didn't feel I deserved such attention. One placed the cake down, while another poured the thick chocolate sauce out of a silver gravy boat. Another stood guard, perhaps protecting me, who knows.
I remember the bill being somewhere around 35 pounds, but definitely worth it for the experience. Whenever I can afford to return here, Rules will be one of the first stops on my list.
Gives whole new meaning to the term "history"
It's hard to comprehend that Rules has been around almost as long as the United States has been a country. Started in 1798.
Not a whole lotta places can brag about that.
Rules knows this and takes great pride in letting everyone know it as well. To tell the truth though, I don't blame 'em for bragging just a little. If I owned something almost as old as dirt itself, I'd brag too.
Rules specializes in game cookery.
What's game cookery, you ask?
Well, it's when you shoot sumthin' and cook it up.
In America, game cookery occurs in places like Alabama and Mississippi where folks shoot critters like possum, squirrel, and... other folk.
In England, game cookery is much more civilized. Rules apparantly owns some pristine hunting grounds in the High Pennies fittingly named, Lartington Estate. If you so desire, you could even reserve some time at Lartington Estate and shoot yourself up some critter for your own version of game cookery. Personally, I prefer that Rules does the cooking.
The menu's intriguing, stuff you rarely see in the states like pheasant, rabbit, snipe, grouse, and such. Rules tries hard to keep it old school and very traditional in every aspect. From the old-world dining room with mounted deer horns and stuffed animal heads, to the classic fruit accompaniments and condiments served with your meal.
This place has got a huge novelty factor, but there is definitely an element of uniqueness about both the surroundings and your food. After all, it isn't everyday you tuck into a "potted rabbit with mulled scrumpy apple chutney" or a "steak, kidney, and ale pudding". Even better, the menu warns diners that the occasional buckshot might still be found in your dinner, so eat carefully.
The food's surprisingly good. The kitchen does have some skill as game meat is difficult to cook well and maintain tenderness because it's so lean.
My main complaint was service. Our server was gruff and unhelpful. When I asked him if there was anything outstanding he would recommend, his answer was, "everything on the menu is fine." He then took our order and proceeded to ignore us the rest of the evening.
Throughout our meal, there was a distinct sense of urgency. Usually when I eat, it's because I'm lactose intolerant. But at Rules, urgency occurs because management sets a 2-hour time limit on your table and tells you up front when they need it back. This was a major turn-off.
To spite Rules, wifey and I took our time and dawdled at our table until the very last minute.
To sum it up: tasty critters, crappy service.
Awesome birthday dinner!
The rib roast was very good - made even better by the horseradish
The game soup was a wonderful surprise
The Mac and cheese was so yummiest that I could have made a meal out of it
Don't miss the sticky toffee pudding for desert
Allow yourself some time to appreciate the great service and food
This restaurant is decorated in contemporary style, the atmosphere is pleasant and welcoming.
If one day I'm an entrepreneur in this field, I will be extremely happy to own a beautiful place like Rules.
I think that I posses the needed qualities and package of skills to run a business. But even if I'm working for about 70 hours per week in the future, I'll keep my passion and motivation that are crucial to living a happy, fulfilled, meaningful life.
I ate here last year while on Spring Break with my parents. Before I met them for dinner, I had a drink upstairs at the bar--it was amazing to see the difference from a U.S. bar--but also fantastic!
This was my first real meal in London, and it set the tone for the rest of the trip. For all the bad things we Americans hear about English food, this place is one that would change your mind. I had the rack-of-lamb and it was excellent. For dessert, we had pudding and it was to die for. The ambience here was also one-of-a-kind.
Ontop of the great food and experience, Judy Dench and Alice Kingsley were sitting across from us. It was definitely a memorable meal!
30 years ago, when I lived in London, I'd walk thru Covent Garden and let the crowds be my entertainment. London was and is expensive. One day I walked past Rules just as a posh looking couple were entering, and I overheard the warm welcome they received from the staff in the Entry.
Ah, to have money, I thought, and walked on...
Last week at Rules, I received the first-timers equivalent. Clearly 5 stars.
Oldest restaurant in London-1795. Second family of owners. Bless all the chefs.
This is a wonderful experience. The service is very good to excellent, the offerings were designed to make Careme unhappy.
Visit the website and check it out, it's pricey and very meat oriented.
Towards the end of our luncheon, a youngish couple came into our room and were seated to my right. They were Americans, I'm a Yank and can spot us quite well, and very underdressed. He looked about the room and look it all in, and there's alot to take in. She looked at the menu and frowned-clear who chose to 'pop' in, poor fellow. All he got was few minutes enjoying himself before she announced loudly "Let's go" He looked surprised and tried to talk with her, but she got up and walked out with him bringing up her rear...
Staff reset the table. Next!
Come here if you've a mind to, come for the history and the pace and what can be, from reading other's comments, unsatisfactory, but in my experience it rocked! Sure, it's British and stuffy, but the staff warms after a while and the chow is fabulous. Enjoy!
Rules is quite the place, to say the least! My friend and I stopped in for lunch on a weekday afternoon while the restaurant was empty, and we had the greatest experience! We decided on the restaurant after reading about it on the internet and and finding that the restaurant had a great deal of consistently positive reviews. It is a bit expensive, but London is an expensive city; we decided that this meal was going to be our "splurge."
We found classy decor and a relaxing dining environment, with good service to boot (even though we were a tad under-dressed) when we arrived. We were seated at a table right by the window, which had a good view of both the outside and the other tables inside the restaurant.
I ordered the Steak and Kidney Pie, which was absolutely phenomenal! I had never before tasted anything like it in my life, making it even more exciting. The flavors all stood out boldly with every bite, and the perfectly-cooked mashed potatoes complemented the dish exquisitely. My friend ordered the duck, which he thoroughly enjoyed, as well (although I think we both decided that the Steak and Kidney Pie was the best). For dessert we got the Sticky Toffee Pudding, which was absolutely delicious and left us desperately desiring more.
On a side note, this restaurant is really quite formal. While they don't mind tourists walking in from the street wearing "touristy" clothing, the practice is frowned upon and really downright tacky. My friend and I felt horribly under-dressed (it's true, we were!), but we were made to feel comfortable. However, I will certainly dress more nicely if I ever get to go again.
Totally recommend this place! Give it a try!
An American boy raised on meat and potatoes knows 5-star aged beef when he finds it. It's at RULES. Was lucky to have had a Galloway sirloin from RULES' own herd which is served annually during the first weeks in the year. My wife's rib eye was likewise delectable.
The upstairs bar is world class. The elixirs and mixology advice from London's top drinkmaster Brian Silva are not to be missed. If you recognize violet, chartreuse and rose as not just colors but also delightful cocktail ingredients, come thirsty.
I feel bad writing a negative review for Rules, but it has become a borderline tourist trap. My wife and I went there recently in hopes of a classy experience - me in a suit and tie and her in a new dress. We were seated between a badly sunburned German couple wearing shorts, and two French tourists - one wearing a money belt like a bandolier, and the other with a fanny pack. Hard to fault the restaurant for this, but it's long and decorated history has evidently landed Rules in several tourist books.
We ordered two appetisers to start with and after a 20 minute wait the server brought the wrong one for my wife. Famished, I then had the pleasure of waiting another 10 minutes for her correct dish to emerge from the kitchen with a plate of venison carpaccio in front of me. ("please go ahead and start." "no no, I'll wait" etc...) The venison turned out to be the clear high point of the evening - it was fantastic. I can't remember what either of our mains were - both were rather forgettable.
Apart from the appetiser snafu the service was overall good, but unfortunately the experience was entirely underwhelming for this price point.
Frommers recommends eating at Rules as one of the things you must do while in London, and I would somewhat agree with them. Rules is the oldest restaurant in London, and has an incredibly rich history. That alone is reason enough to check it out if you're touring London.
The service is top notch, as one would expect from an establishment of this kind. The decor is what you would expect. They use a lot of antlers in their decorating, which considering that they come from what was later served on a plate, is cool. And I love that the menu has little notes for items like warning you that there may be some shot left in your game, so be careful, or that if you have a driver waiting for you, let them know and they will bring him refreshments,
The food is good. I'm not a huge fan of the style of food, so I tried to appreciate it from an unbiased review. If you like English cooking, Rules is the place to eat.
Rules is an unforgettable experience. It has a old gentlemen's club like feel. There is so much to take in. I felt a bit underdressed in my jeans. The staff is very welcoming and accommodating. I suggest getting a drink upstairs while you wait for your table.
The food... so delicious! Wasn't feeling adventurous enough to try a game dish so got the rib-eye.. one of the best steaks I've had. And for dessert I had the golden syrup pudding- this is a must. I couldn't finish my steak but had no problem eating every last bite of my dessert.
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