Rather than a jostling stride down the hell that is Oxford Street, enjoy an elegant sashay from the Langham Hotel London, past the striking All Souls Church, particularly lovely when floodlit. The media-central Riding House Café has been attracting the creative trendsetters of the locality since opening; a clientele that’s all the cooler for being more interested in substance than style. They know what they’re looking for and this buzzing all-day modern eatery knows precisely how deliver it.
Founded by Adam White, who was born in London but grew up in New Zealand where his family owned a hotel, he returned to the capital to forge a reputation for putting gastro pubs on the map, namely The Stonemason’s Arms in Hammersmith and The Masons Arms in Battersea. His first sole enterprise, The Riding House Café, was an instant hit when it launched in 2011, offering a downtown Manhatten vibe that’s ideal for dining with friends or catching a spontaneous after-work bite. Along with bookable tables, they also keep an area strictly for walk-ins, an informal approach encouraging you to visit more regularly; a concept White’s small, independent Village London restaurant group expanded upon with the popular Rail House Café in Victoria and Village East in Bermondsey.
The eclectic menu is packed with so many crowd-pleasing dishes that it’s a good idea to arrive with plenty of time to mull things over with a cocktail or two. Try the Fizzy Cola Bottle with Ketel One Citron vodka, elderflower, lemon, plum bitters, cola & egg white. Small dishes are perfect for a sharing starter, with many showcasing the Riding Street Cafe’s love of highly flavoured, vegetarian cuisine including a superb char-grilled cauliflower with a walnut and caper salsa; freshly baked sourdough with seaweed butter, or try the mild, creamy whipped feta topped with sweet chestnuts and sour rhubarb.
Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, this restaurant is your friend in need, and promises to put a smile on your face from doors open to close; whether you’re propping up the long bar overlooking the energetic open kitchen, taking up a corner of the long communal table for more of a supper-club vibe, or enjoying an intimate table for two on a raised platform overlooking the entire action. Fun is the order of the day and a welcome relief after a decade of fine dining. The RHC also holds various private dining options including ‘The Stables’, a great Christmas party venue.
Temped by both the lemon sole with cockles and crispy seaweed, and the Coronation-style monkfish with sultanas, I finally opted for the suitably autumnal braised rabbit leg with tarragon sauce, served atop a generous swirl of creamy mashed potato. Boasting delectably soft meat, well complimented by the fresh herbs, a cheeky side of poutine (posh chips with gravy) wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, but a necessary one nonetheless. A superb and well priced German Riesling sealed the deal; packed with tropical, tongue-tingling peachy notes that contrasted well against the richness.
My companion and I shared the intense chocolate fondant with the gold-standard crust and oozing centre, a dessert that came alive with a desert-island, bountylicious coconut ice cream and convinced the already converted that the Riding House Café is a place to be added to speed-dial. The waiting staff, who were awarded ‘Best Front of House’ at the Tatler Restaurant Awards in 2012, continue to uphold an exceptionally high standard and are so lovable you’ll want to ask for their number too.
Riding House Cafe, 43-51 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia, London W1W 7PQ. For more information and reservations please visit the website.