I had finally made it to the oldest restaurant in London! I had been wanting to dine at Rules for over a decade and after numerous trips to England, I finally made it a top priority. As a food enthusiast, I take my eating seriously and have a restaurant bucket list. Rules was on that list and was checked off, but that was not the case for long. I learned that Rules offers a Cocktail Masters Class, which is now on another bucket list.
Upon my travels, I have always gravitated to the oldest or a restaurant with history. Rules was founded in 1798 and had survived numerous monarchies, devastating wars and current food trend changes. The original Rule family who owned the restaurant had interesting lifetime stories as well. Thomas Rule had murdered his wife and daughter, then was committed to a psychiatric hospital. The restaurant remained with the family until it was swapped by Charles Rule with Thomas Bell for another business, after World War I. In 1984, it was then sold by the daughter of Bell to the current owner, John Mayhew.
The Classic and Classy Interior of Rules
For being the oldest restaurant in London, the obvious choice of dishes served here would be classic British cuisine at its finest. When Rules first opened, it was primarily an Oyster Bar and they still continue with that tradition. They evolved into serving English dishes with the house specialties being traditional pies and puddings, a variety of game meat and of course, high quality oysters.
— On the Table —
I came in during lunch time without a reservation which is typically against my ‘Rules’. Even as a solo traveler I will make a reservation if it is offered, that is just one of my ‘Rules’. The restaurant was quite busy but I was offered a lovely table in one of the main dining rooms. After my coat was brought to the cloak room, I was seated promptly and offered a delicious cocktail. That was the beginning of my fine British food affair at the oldest restaurant in London.
A divine cocktail made with Aperol, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Lillet Blanc and Campari
It is not in my nature to snub a cocktail at the start of a fine meal. Especially from such a place as Rules- ‘For those in the know, Rules’ Bar has become one of the places to drink cocktails in London’. The Winter Garden Cocktail bar, which is upstairs is the place for the ultimate cocktail hour. Since I missed that, I will be back because it is on my bucket list now. I did catch a glimpse of the bar when I went upstairs to use the ladies room and it looked like a handsome place to spend cocktail hour.
Sipping this splendidly sweet spirit made me more curious of their other hand crafted cocktails, as well as their Master Class.
Pea and Ham Soup with Cream and Mint
Pea soup has been a favorite of mine for a long time, but it has to be done correctly for it to be palatable. Rules served a perfect pea soup with ham, it was a great starter to my lunch. This colorful pea soup with swirls of cream was very flavorful, especially with the hint of mint. The cream gave the soup a smooth finish and the mint updated the flavor to this traditional dish.
Rustic Bread and Butter
For me it was all about that butter! I enjoy butter a lot, to the point where bread is only a utensil used for me to eat butter. The freshly baked bread served at Rules was very delicious, I will admit that. Now that creamy, yellow butter served on the little silver dish, was my favorite between the two. There is nothing better than a generous serving of BUTTER and bread.
Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie with a Puff Pastry Crust
Rules specializes in traditional British pies which is similar to our pot pies in the States. Although my Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie was a world above any American pot pie. I am not being unpatriotic, I am just stating a fact.
This tasteful meat pie was presented with a lovely white accordion collar around it, which made the delivery just a bit more “Extra”. Breaking open the golden, flaky crust was exciting. Especially when I started to spoon out large pieces of white meat chicken in a savory, creamy mixture of fresh leeks and tender mushrooms. The flavors were excellent and the presentation very special. This was one extraordinary Chicken Pie.
Rules Sticky Toffee Pudding
Polishing off my hearty meal with London’s best Sticky Toffee Pudding was an absolute. It is known that Rules serves the best Sticky Toffee Pudding in the city and has been recomedned by food critics, magazines, bloggers and locals alike. This was not my first time to try this sugary dessert and I will admit, this was the best I have tried. It was a very indulgent dessert and I highly recommend it when you are in London.
If you are not familiar with traditional British Sticky Toffee Pudding, it is quite different from the custard style puddings in America. It is a dense and richly flavored little cake, served with a sticky caramel sauce and sprinkled with nuts. It is my favorite English dessert!
Finishing off a heavier meal, such as the one I just ate, one of the best ways to digest is with a cup of tea. While in Europe, one of my favorite types of tea was fresh mint leaves steeped in a pot of hot water. The Mint Tea at Rules was very nice and served in an elegant silver tea pot and white china. It rounded off my meal terrifically as I reminisced of the British feast that I had just eaten.
Rules of London is one the city’s most historical dining establishment and should not be missed on your culinary tour of London. It is a very special restaurant and a fine place to dine or have a cocktail- Cheers!
For restaurant information and location, please visit RULES
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