Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rules Restaurant, Covent Garden

We had been to Rules restaurant once before about five years ago, and since then have said we should go back rather a lot. Well, it was my birthday so Mr P decided to treat me and what a lovely treat it was. We really do love this place. The history, the cocktail bar, the fact that although it is a posh restaurant it is not stuck up, (they quite happily give a jug of tap water and do not push bottled) and of course, the food. Oh good lordy lord.

So we started by getting there a little early so we could go for a drink in the cocktail bar upstairs. Even if you are not staying for a meal, I absolutely recommend a drink in the bar. There is a separate entrance that the door man takes you to, swipes his card and up the stairs you go, into a traditional oldie world. The restaurant/bar is all about its game so expect to see, stuffed animals, paintings of that nature, wooden panels, paintings/drawings of people from the past. You get the idea.

The staff in the bar seat you and take your order from the table which was nice, and we found them very attentive and charming. They had some special cocktails for the Queen's jubilee so we tried a couple of those. Queen of Saint Kitts & Nevis Rinquinquin Peach, Pisco & Champagne (bottom) and Queen of Saint Lucia Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum, Picon & Citrus (top). Both really lovely drinks to set off the evening.


So, it was time for our meal and a waitress came to let us know our table was ready. As we entered the restaurant downstairs you are hit with the busyness on the wall. I loved it. Certainly an aquired taste but it was interesting to see all the different items.
We started off by ordering an aperitif. I had the Royal 29, sipsmith, pinky vodka, lillet, crystallised violet and rose petals, and Mr P had the Ale & Guinness served in a silver tankard. How cool is that! My cocktail  was fruity and sweet. Just how I like them and Mr P's drink given a lighter quality due to the ale mixed with the guinness.

Now onto the food. (Some of the photos are not very close up but you get the idea). I chose to start with crispy lamb sweetbreads with breast of lamb & caper mayonnaise.

Well all I can say is that starter was utterly Oh. My. Gawd. The sweetbread cooked perfectly with the breadcrumbs golden and crunchy. This contrasted with the soft sponge like sweetbreads and dipped in the caper mayonnaise, added a salty vinegary accompaniment. The breast of lamb was tasty and as you can imagine a delight when combined with the little cubes of mint jelly. Honestly, I cannot recommend this dish enough.
Mr P had potted shrimps with granary bread. He said the bread was still warm and seasoned beautifully. The potted shrimp all buttery and within a sauce which he was unable to describe other than sauce. I tried to get more out of him, but he just kept saying saucy. I gave up. However, he loved it and recommends.

Main courses were a little bit of a mixed bag. I originally was going to get the calves liver but at the last moment changed my mind, and I do regret it I must say. I ordered roast leg of rabbit with puy lentils and dandelion salad. Mr P ordered pork cheeks, pork belly & black pudding with leeks & apricot puree. We also greedily ordered a portion of mash potato, creamed spinach and buttered green beans.

So, I love potato. I specifically love mashed potato so eating Rule's mash was pure bliss. It was creamy, rich, smooth and awesome as hells bells. The creamed spinach gorgeous, the buttered beans were crunchy and just beautiful. Now the rabbit itself was nice, but I do not feel like I can say more than that. It did not feel like it had been cooked as well as other dishes and the dandelion and lentil salad was bitter and dull. The dandelion leaves not enjoyable at all. Even though I am being negative about this particular dish, I still love the restaurant because everything else was perfect and I feel I can forgive it. Plus it means I have to go back and try the other dish.

Mr P's pork dish, he said he is not normally a fan of pork belly but the layers were succulent. They had trimmed the fat so as not to be too fatty and the cheek very tender. He did think the apricot puree got a little lost in the porkiness but the star was the black pudding. Really light and full of flavour. It was quite a large portion but he did not complain over that.

And finally, dessert. I had the strawberry ripple arctic roll and Mr P had, and I say this with a great sigh, he had cropwell bishop stilton with a selection of biscuits. I personally do not understand cheese for dessert. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. Don't get me wrong, I love cheese but not at the end of a big meal. I feel it should be rounded off with a nice bit of sweetness. So anyway, rant over, he had some cheese.

My arctic roll was covered in almonds and I am not a fan of nuts in my food. If they are crushed up so I cannot see them (yes like a child), then I don't mind the taste, it is more the texture but, BUT, I can honestly say they were great with my pudding. The cold centre and then the chewy meringue surrounding the ice cream. All this accompanied with fresh berries that helped cut through the sweetness. It was great.

I did have a bit of Mr P's cheese and I must say, it was just what you would want from a bit of stilton. When served the waitress brought over a whole cheese wheel and started digging in. She only stops when you say stop which Mr P only realised after the third giant spoonful, oh how we chuckled to ourselves. A slice of quince jelly and butter to go with an a ray of crackers, if you do like a cheese dessert then this was perfect.

So, twas the end of the meal and we enjoyed it very very much, even though I had a slightly dud main course. I still loved the evening. The service was smooth, our waiter could have a been a little more friendly perhaps if being picky. We also found ourselves sat next to an american couple who chatted to us a bit which was actually quite nice.

Price for two including booze in the bar was £170. Yes this was pricey, but it was my birthday dinner! Would I go back? Abso-blooming-lutely!

Food:9 (one mark off for the bitter dandelion leaves)
Value for money:7