[London WC2] Rules

This was the meal my wife and I like to call the “Office Christmas Party”. And, like any office Christmas Party, there’s inordinate thought goes into deciding the venue, the food, etc. So, after the umming and aahhing, I said, “Look, I love Rules and you’ve never been, so let’s go there.” So we did. It’s full-on game season for Rules which, it’s fair to say, suits me much more than it suits Mrs H but she still had plenty of choice.

There was a partridge salad to start. Partridge breast cooked to medium rare and sliced over some leaf – mainly red chicory which looked good on the plate with its bitterness contrasting nicely with the blob or two of sweet, fruity sauce. Across the table, there was a different take to the northwest classic of potted shrimps. Here it was the shrimps bound together by a shrimp mousse, accompanied by toast.

One main saw a good sized piece of superb fillet steak, cooked bang-on as requested and full of flavour. In something of a retro style, it comes with a pepper sauce but one really well made – peppery enough for you to know it’s there, but not overly peppery so it kills the flavour of the meat. There was a separate bowl of salad leaf which was enough for three people but it had a disappointing dressing which just seemed to be oil.

I have managed to get through 65 years without ever eating hare. I can’t recall ever seeing it on a menu before Rules. But there it was. So an easy decision to order hare today (geddit?). It comes two ways. There’s slices of fillet, perfect at medium rare, and long cooked shoulder enclosed by cabbage leaves into a cigar shape. There some shreds of celeriac, spinach and a red wine sauce. I ordered sides of mashed potato, which was a bit gloopy, and red cabbage which went well.

For dessert, there was a pretty much perfect apple crumble, the topping coming from hazelnuts and almonds. The other pudding, a light as a feather syrup sponge. There’s a separate of jug of custard, just as you’d hope there would be. And we were asked if we need more of it!

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This was a great review–thanks for posting it.

Keep meaning to go to Rules and for some unaccountable reason never do. Especially puzzling since the cocktail bar upstairs has see much of my trade over the years.

The Square once served me a roast saddle of hare with endive and celeriac on a pear tarte fine, which remains one of the finest things I have ever eaten. I would walk over hot coals to have that again.

It was rather more successful than my own attempts to cook the beast. Not so much the pie - which was fine - but more that I was intending to do something with the rest of the bits I didn’t use, and then unaccountably forgot about them. My wife discovered the remains still hanging in the potting shed about 4 weeks later on 24th December by which time the scene more resembled a Patricia Cornwell novel than a pantry.

A year later divorce is still on the cards and hare is still off the menu…

When I went to Rules I had the hare fillet starter, one of the best pieces of cooking I’ve had. The hare hot pot the missus had for a main was also very good. They can certainly cook hare a Rules.

We went to Rules for lunch on New Year’s Eve and really enjoyed the experience – I especially enjoyed that they ran their regular menu and not a bad/expensive special menu. From rereading Harters earlier post, it looks like we hit on many of the same highlights.

An opening salad of wood pigeon, pomegranate, chestnuts and a few bitter radicchio leaves was a winner. I didn’t try the potted shrimps, but the serving was hefty and disappeared within moments, so I’d guess it was good.

A main of hare was perfect. My crown of wild duck was cooked a little too long for my taste, but I enjoyed the savoy cabbage and walnuts. The side order of chips was masterfully prepared – huge (really looked like each chip was 1/4 of a potato) but perfectly crisp outside with a pillowy interior.

The only true low point was dessert – my husband had the syrup sponge which was very good and exactly as Harters describes, ‘light as a feather.’ I could have injected that custard directly into my veins it was so good.

Mine was poorly chosen pineapple tarte tatin. Instead of being cooked the traditional way (which I wanted and expected) this was a few slices of pineapple set atop a shelf of separately baked flaky pastry, sprinkled with sugar and hit with a torch. The whole thing that is great about tatins – the fruit cooked and caramelized within the pastry – was missing and missed.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold