When it comes to Heritage it doesn’t get much better than a visit to London’s oldest restaurant and with the autumn season well underway, there is nothing finer than the warm inviting glow of a good pub or restaurant to temp you in from the blustery winds of late. And there is one establishment in London that should certainly be on your list (that’s assuming it isn’t already) and that is a personal favourite at this time of year, Rules.
Tucked away on the side streets of Covent Garden, on Maiden Lane, this incredible piece of British history has over 200 years of experience under its belt. And it shows! Once through the doors, you feel a million miles from the general throng of equally historical Covent Garden, where the presence of a market dates back to 1654.
The formal dark wood panelled setting, which reminds me so much of many a Christmas at my great Aunts, (minus the Miro-esque Christmas sweater, I am so mentally scared!) feels inviting and familiar and it feels like I’m back at an old friends. Yes, once through the door I certainly feel at home and I’d quite happily never leave. It is indeed a venue to eat, drink and be merry and it’s oh so easily done. It certainly provides the perfect setting for an evening of great indulgence, so be ready to loosen the belt strap a notch or two by the end of the evening.
Rules itself was founded by Thomas Rule in 1798, when its primary business was as an Oyster Bar, which also offered great British fair. It quickly gained great publicity, with many journalists writing about its menu.
In its long history Rules has been owned by 3 different families, with Thomas Rule swapping the business with Thomas Bell around the time of the First World War. And Bell’s daughter eventually sold the restaurant to its current owner, John Mayhew, in 1984.
Today Rules specialises in game, with its own estate in Teesdale. And with game season well and truly underway it really is the perfect location for a table for two or dinner with friends to sample some incredible British Produce.
And with such a long history, I probably won’t surprise you that Rules has a celebrity status all of it own. Along with a long list of famous customers, which include Charles Dickens, Laurence Olivier and HG Wells, it has also appeared in several novels including works by both Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh and also featured in Downton Abbey and James Bond Spectre, where M, played by Ralph Fiennes famously dines at Rules.
As a firm favourite, I still remember one of my first evening there. An early date night with my husband not long after we first met and which included a proposal at the end of the meal! As it was maybe a little early on in the relationship to be discussing marriage, it was in-fact a proposal to the chef, for the most amazing hot chocolate soufflé, served with molten hot chocolate sauce (yes I’m a closet chocoholic remember) and pistachio ice cream, as the waiter cleared our very empty plates I commented that I would marry the man that made that dessert and on returning from the kitchen the reply from the chef was ‘see you outside in five minutes’. The rest as they say is history and thankfully for my husband I didn’t follow up on the chef’s offer, but hey, it was close.
We have been back many a time since and with such a heritage and such great food, it’s easy to see why. So if your looking for the perfect table for two or an evening with friends sampling some of this countries great British Produce then look no further and get yourself booked in.
And make time for an aperitif in the bar, the perfect start to your evening and my recommendation order A Kiss for Lillie to start, but be warned, she’s stronger than she looks and then settle in for one of my favourite dining experience is London. You wont be disappointed and with a seasonal menu, there is so much to go back for. It certainly gets British Products recommendation.
And when making your reservation, don’t forget to ask about the Wellington (if you’re a fan). It’s made to order and has to be booked in advance and you’ll need a party of 4 if you’re going to get close to finishing it, but it has to be done!
Oh and don’t forget to leave room for desert, you never know there may just be a proposal in it! So what are you waiting for, get booking and enjoy.