You always hear about Rules. It’s the oldest restaurant in London, and it’s the place that the tourists always seem to want to go to. They film scenes for Downton Abbey there. But it’s not really one of those places that I ever really thought about going. I’m not sure why. But lately everyone I know has been talking about it, so one night we took the plunge with some friends and decided to give it a try.
But you can’t just go for dinner, drinks are a definite must if you are planning on going to Rules. There’s a cocktail bar upstairs, so we arrived before our reservation, checked in and headed upstairs to get some drinks (Well, all of us except for the pregnant lady.) The drink list looked amazing, and I didn’t recognize many of the spirits listed on the menu, but it makes it that much more fun to try it. I started with Don’t Mention the Spey, and my partner had Bushel of Apples. They were both fantastic. Neither of them was sickly sweet, so we were really happy. I’m not a fan of sweet cocktails, so finding a place that makes drinks that are close to classic cocktails is a real plus. Then we moved on to The Toast of Paris and Witches’ Brew. Finally, we ordered A Little of That… and Lucia Sciarra. We didn’t have a bad cocktail, and we both thought that Lucia Sciarra was probably the best cocktail of the night. When our table was ready, they brought us downstairs and someone brought our drinks on a tray, so we could bring them with us. He did end up having to wait with them quite a bit for them to take our coats and show us to our seats, so the service started out very well.
Rules Restaurant looks extravagant in every way. It’s like you’ve gone back in time, and you are sitting in some sort of old hunting lodge with wooden walls and old paintings everywhere. I absolutely fell in love at first sight. At our table, there was a massive mural of Margaret Thatcher that I absolutely adored. I kept wanting to look around and see the paintings. It’s absolutely fantastic. As we were sitting at the table, the server came by several times to make sure we were okay, and they were perfectly fine waiting to come back until we were ready to order. For our starters, I ordered the game broth (which is an unusual choice for me, but I thought I’d go for it). In case you didn’t know, Rules specializes in game meats. So that’s a bonus for me. I don’t think I can ever get enough game. My partner ordered six oysters to start, and our friends ordered the smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and the game terrine. They do seem to make quite a few retro menu items, but for some reason, it’s just something you want while you are here. My game broth was phenomenal. I would recommend it to anyone. It was like sipping umami. I tried some of the game terrine as well, and it was superb. Our friend really loved his smoked salmon. Everyone was incredibly pleased with their orders.
For our mains, three of us ordered the woodcock, and one person ordered a whole roast duck! Two of us who ordered the woodcock ordered it because we had seen my partner order woodcock at a restaurant previously, and we had major woodcock envy. We weren’t going to let it happen this time. All of these were served traditionally with game chips and bread sauce. There was also gravy and red currant jelly. Everything was cooked well and tasted amazing. I had never had bread sauce, and it was nice, but I wasn’t convinced. My partner seemed to love it though. The red currant jelly was also fantastic. The game chips were extremely crispy, and the cabbage was nice and buttery and still had a bit of a bite to it. All in all, everyone was extremely happy with everything they ordered. We even paired it with an amazing Cote-Rotie. (My partner was really happy with the wine list they had, and he ordered wine pairings perfectly.)
Finally, we all decided we needed dessert. Because the dessert menu looked fantastic. I kept going back and forth about what I wanted, but I ended up going for the Spiced Sponge with figs and port ice cream. My partner got the chocolate fondant. Our friends ordered the Queen of Puddings and the Golden Syrup Pudding. Make sure you order dessert. They were all fantastic. The Queen of Puddings was massive, and my partner and I had to help our friend finish it up. The Spiced Sponge was amazing, and it was even filled with a creamy filling and a baked fig. We ordered an amazing vintage port to go with as well. Our friend loved his Golden Syrup Pudding and custard. Seriously, make sure you get dessert.
Rules was absolutely fantastic. I really can’t get over how good the food was, and I would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t been. As long as you’re not a vegetarian. There wasn’t much on the menu except for meat. (I think there were a total of two fish main courses.) It’s not very cheap though as mains will probably cost you between £20-40, but it’s definitely worth every pound. I plan on bringing my parents here the next time they visit, and I’m positive they will enjoy it as well. I’ll also be back to get drinks, because those drinks were out of this world. I really can’t stop praising it. It’s not just a place for tourists to go, it’s a restaurant with an amazing menu and delicious food. And don’t forget the dessert!
35 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7LB