Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Riding House Cafe

As I am not travelling home for Mother's Day, my Mother came to me...a week early. I had heard great things about the Riding House Cafe (as well as how impossible it would be to get a table on actual Mother's day), so booked us in there for Sunday Lunch.

Although frequenting the area around Regent/Oxford/Great Portland/Titchfield place often enough I had never been down this particular bit of street so would never come across this on the off chance. Which is strange as it's a huge place, much larger than I was expecting.

We arrived around 2pm and there was a nice general buzz about the place. There were people sat at the bar, although there were free seats. We were lead to our table to the left of the entrance way into what I will now call 'the orange room'. There was a good mixture of small groups of friends, families and larger groups. We sat near enough under a not un-scary light fitting...
I had heard the place was famous for it's small sharing portions, but I was also hankering for a decent Sunday roast, so we opted for a couple of sharers to start followed by two rib's of beef please...Strangely there wasn't a huge amount on the sharing menu that tickled my fancy, which is surprising as I'm a general fan of this kind of dining whether it be dim sum, tapas or otherwise.
We also ordered a carafe of rioja. It was good they had carafes, as I wanted more than a glass but we didn't want a bottle at lunch time, so this worked out perfectly. Our starters arrived staggered, which was quite nice as it gave us a chance to enjoy each one individually. First up, bread with olive oil and a hummus type affair made with chickpea, yoghurt and jalapeƱo.
Following this it was artichoke dip with crostini...

Finally chicken liver parfait.
It was hard to pick a favourite, I liked the liver parfait but M found it too sweet (likely down to the truffle butter). The artichoke was also nice with a very unusual flavour. Still it was now onto the main event, rib of beef with the Sunday trimmings. The portion certainly didn't disappoint.

The meat, Yorkshire pudding, gravy and horseradish could not be faulted at all. The potatoes however were a bit hard rather than crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The veg were also a bit too 'al dente'. Still, we both enjoyed it. Next time however I'd go for a burger, they looked great and so many people were having them, I would take that to be a speciality.

Finally we looked at the dessert menu and noticed a few things stood out namely hot chocolate fudge, honeycomb and macaroons...all in one dish. We ordered almost immediately. When it arrived we had neglected to read the word 'sundae' so were surprised when it arrived as an ice cream...also how the chocolate fudge cake was definitely not hot.
It was nice and we ate it all, feeling awful afterwards by how stuffed we were, and continued to feel that way for a couple of hours after. En route downstairs I was confronted with yet another taxidermied lamp, this time even scarier than our neighbouring squirrel.
Overall we both liked it. I would go again for brunch/lunch on a day where I have nothing else to do so can mooch in their letting it all go down.

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 3.5/5
Drink: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5 - not the best place I've ever been, but fun and worth checking out
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