A trip to the centre beckoned – I needed to buy a new winter coat and Blai required some books from Foyles. The pressure was on me to find someplace interesting to eat. Looking at my map of places I want to try (I organise it all on a Google map accessible on my mobile), I spied the Riding House Café not too far away from Oxford Circus. That’s where we would go.
This all day eatery was absolutely packed when we arrived (usually a good sign) and as we didn’t have a booking, we sat at the bar when a couple seats freed up. After perusal of the Sunday menu, we decided to split a few small plates as well as a brunch dish between us.
The first small plate was Salt Cod Fritters, Red Pepper Aioli (£5). I can’t say I was particularly thrilled to see that all my fiver got me was three overly salty fritters, each the size of my thumb. And I have small hands.
From the cheapest price bracket came the Smoked Mackerel Pate, Horseradish, Keta (£3). This was alright, a mild smoked mackerel paste with no horseradish flavour whatsoever. I learned something new though – keta is the salmon roe on top (I think).
A Braised Rabbit, Soft Polenta, Parmesan (£5) rounded off our small plate selection and was the best of the lot with the tender, flavourful rabbit pairing well with the bland polenta. But once again, the size of the portion…
My verdict on the small plates – yeah, way too expensive for what they were. They should be called tiny plates.
Our brunch dish of Chorizo Hash Brown, Mushroom, Poached Eggs (£10.50) fared better. The giant hash brown was delicious, all studded with chunks of chorizo and I was really looking forward to the poached eggs on top. Unfortunately, our first eggs were sadly overcooked but when our attentive waitress checked how we were doing, I pointed them out to her and she swiftly replaced them for two perfectly cooked ones. It was nice to have the green spinach on the side and it had been dressed but just a little too saltily for me.
Knowing that the day wasn’t going to be particularly healthy, consumption-wise, I insisted on getting us some greens as well. The Autumn Greens, Chestnut Butter (£3.50) were fine though while I could see the chestnut bits, I couldn’t taste them.
We had our eye on one dessert (I think it was a chocolate fondant) but learned that the restaurant had run out of a few of the options including the one we wanted. I found this quite surprising – it’s a big place and surely they could have anticipated that a number of desserts were needed. We decided to skip it and have it elsewhere.
So, Riding House Café…sadly, food-wise, you were quite underwhelming. If you’re going, I’d stay away from the small plates and order the main meals instead. I like the space though and I could see myself rocking up to meet someone for a drink there.
The Riding House Café
43-51 Great Titchfield Street
London W1W 7PQ