We’ve been eggblogging for a while now, and we’re getting a steady stream of recommendations for places to try from our friends and via our REAL friends on twitter (@eggbloggers). All suggestions are logged and we’re trying to get through them as quickly as possible, but we’re already building up quite a backlog. A while back a couple of foodie friends (@gilboise & @katetalksbooks) went for breakfast at the Riding House Cafe in Fitzrovia, and described the breakfast here as “the best…in London”. A big claim. We had to test it out. After all, we’re feeling like after the number of visits we’ve made for breakfasts across the capital we’re getting a really good feel for what’s poor, what’s alright, what’s amazing and what’s ‘the best’…
The Riding House Cafe is the latest offering from the lovely people behind Village East and The Garrison, both on Bermondsey Street. Regular readers of the blog (of which there must be millions!) will know we’re particular fans of that little portion of SE1.
Dead squirrels. On The Lights. Squirrels. Hanging by their teeth from the light fittings. I mean, that’s bold. Lots of people we know wouldn’t feel too comfortable tucking into a bacon sarnie while Tufty was glaring down at them from above. Even for us, and neither of us are particularly squeamish about taxidermy, it was a bit odd nonetheless. But cool (clearly…!)
Deceased rodents aside, the Cafe is split into two areas. On the right of the main door is a large counter with seating at the bar overlooking the kitchen. This side has long rows of tables for larger parties, and large windows which mean it’s nice and bright. We were seated through on the other side which has tables for smaller groups, surrounded by leather bench seats in bright but distressed burnt orange and lime green leather. Watch your head on the low-hanging massive spaceship lampshades! The walls are wood panelled and there are stuffed squirrels on some of the lamps…did we mention those already?
It’s really in a great location – a stone’s throw from the swarms of shoppers and tourists on Oxford Street, but weirdly quiet and secluded. If you’re planning a shopping trip to central London, we’d thoroughly recommend the Riding House Cafe over any of the various nasty chain restaurants you’ll find nearby.
The front of house staff were very pleasant and showed us swiftly to our table. They apologised that it hadn’t been set, despite the fact we’d booked ahead – but that was fine, the waiting staff bustled around us and we were soon quorate with cutlery. A very smiley young chap asked if we’d like water and then took our drinks order (two teas, two orange juices.) We were slightly confused by the two options we were offered for the OJ – fresh or freshly squeezed…! We opted for fresh and sat back to look over the small but perfectly-formed breakfast menu. As we’d slept in and had arrived at 11.30am we only had half an hour before they moved onto the lunch service (there’s no brunch menu, although eggs benedict and eggs florentine are served later). Half an hour is plenty of time for them to take our food order, right?…..
Our drinks order arrived incomplete – there was only one orange juice, but smiley man was very apologetic again (something about swearing he’d entered two orange juices into the electronic ordering system..maybe if they’d written it down the old fashioned way..?). We weren’t fussed, it is a really nice place to sit and relax.
However, it was almost twelve by the time anyone came to take our egg order. It was a full 50 minutes after we sat down when our food finally arrived – by which time our orange was mostly drunk and our teas were cold. It wasn’t a busy day for them either – the restaurant was only about 40% full. I know bank holiday mondays are meant to be leisurely, but we did have plans and apart from anything else Rob was STARVING!
As you can see from the photos Riding House Cafe does turn out a particularly attractive eggs benedict. They are also very generous with the ham, so if you like your meat you’ll be well served here. We both agreed the ham was top notch – proper Wiltshire-style with the right level of saltiness to compliment the eggs and hollandaise. That sauce itself was the perfect consistency, not too runny but not the kind of cold custard thickness we’ve had in other places. It had a really great vinegary kick to it, and was full of flavour. (We overheard the nice ladies at the table next to ours admiring the look and smell of it!)
The eggs weren’t perfect, Rob’s were underdone and had a layer of clear runny albumin around the yolk which was a real shame. Anna’s, on the other hand, was a tad overdone with one of her yolks being half-solid. We’ve been served some brilliantly cooked eggs on our travels, and these fell short of that mark unfortunately.
Overall, we both really enjoyed the dish, but neither was perfect thanks to poor eggsecution.
All of the food is organic and the eggs are free-range.
Value: 9/10 (£6.50 for two eggs – BARGAIN. Service 12.5% inc)
Eggsecution (Cooking Of Eggs): 4/10
A special mention for the buttermilk pancakes. As it was 11.30 by the time we arrived Rob had already developed one of his infamous ‘energy-gaps’ so we pushed the boat out and ordered these as a desert. They came dusted in sugar with a dollop of clotted cream and a handful of blueberries and strawberries, with a side dish of maple syrup. They were awesome. Plus the very friendly and attentive waitress leapt to our aid post-eggs to provide us with clean cutlery and plates so we didn’t have to contaminate our sweet pancakes with eggy knives and forks!
Will we be going back? Probably – it’s in an amazingly convenient location and the decor and atmosphere are great. The long wait was a shame but we were probably just unlucky. We’d give them one more chance to get the eggs right…Try to get down here before word spreads and it becomes a mecca for weary shoppers. Check out the breakfast menu here.
The Riding House Cafe. 43-51 Great Titchfield St, London W1W 7PQ