Rules rules

I firmly believe that many “foodies” out there discount the oldest restaurant in London, Rules. This was a second visit for me and a destination restaurant that I was looking forward to returning to. See, the last time I ate there, I was only a budding foodie, there was no such thing as a blog, and no way to network with other culinary aficionados to know where to eat. I was just a history buff who had read about the illustrious history including the literary greats who had dined there; Galsworthy, Thackeray, Dickens, and H.G. Wells.

With four of us dining, there was a great opportunity for lots of tastes… We started with a bottle of ’84 Pol Roger, Cuvée de Winston Churchill to accompany our appetizers, a terrine of duck foie gras served with rillettes and elderflower jelly, Brown Windsor soup with Welsh Rarebit, a special offering that day of fresh asparagus with Hollandaise and slivers of black truffles, and another special, Wiltshire rabbit country pâté which was easily my favorite, cut thick and redolent with pistachios, dried fruit, and topped with a spicy fig confiture. The asparagus was also a favorite; dining with folks who tend to shy away from vegetables, I somewhat believed I might get this beauties to myself, but others saw how hearty they were and they quickly disappeared.

I was very lucky to be dining with gentlemen who were amenable to sharing as the plates went on rotation around the table; roe deer loin with warm salad of wilted chicory, pear, and Stilton, rack of West Devon lamb with Anna Potatoes and mint sauce, fillet of beef on the bone with grilled bone marrow with a red wine sauce studded with black truffle bits, and the Rules’ version of Blanquette de Veau, which I think was my favorite. It was served in two parts, the rice studded with fresh tarragon and black trumpet mushrooms and a copper pot with the creamy sauce, chunks of tender veal, and large fresh cepes. The fillet was tender and rich and paired well with our 2000 Nuits St. Georges Clos Saint Marc.

We finished our evening by opening an ’86 D’Yquem and a number of desserts, sticky toffee pudding, apple tart tatin, a cheese plate, and some braised rhubarb. All of the desserts were excellent as was the service. I love the atmosphere at Rules and I love the old world-style service. It hearkens back to an era in which I wished I lived, somewhat Edwardian and classically elegant in the style of Escoffier and Ranhoffer. The food is not haute or molecular or even daring. There is an understated quality and charm that perhaps is best appreciated by those of a certain generation, but all I can say is that it makes me happy.

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