Adam White and Clive Watson have, with the opening of the Riding House Café, established themselves as Londons answer to Keith McNally. As McNally continues to bring casual neighbourhood dining to downtown New York with a white-hot touch of trend, so Adam and Clive have shifted their axis from their much-loved Bermondsey eateries, the Garrison and Village East, to create the all-day brasserie that central London didnt realise it so desperately needed. When, laden with shopping bags, you want that 4pm snack and a cocktail, or when you dont fancy the silver teapots of the Wolseley and want a late breakfast of chorizo hash browns with poached eggs, Riding House is where you come.
As with McNally, the scene is more important than the kitchen. Its democratic and all things to all people, with a predominance of Zeitgeisty small plates (three plates would be a light lunch) and a bar area that only caters to walk-ins. Its particularly perfect for daytime solo visits with a laptop or magazine.
Of an evening, the room buzzes with a smart West End crowd reassuringly tourist-free, but less self-consciously cool than the duos Bermondsey regulars. The décor is classic diner meets batty English country estate: red leather, blue leather, oversized lampshades, stuffed squirrels and wood panelling; more try-hard bonkers than the romantic Garrison or the sleek Village East, but chic and fun.
For our money, the Pony Club martini (with rum and Aperol) is Fitzrovias best cocktail, a grown-up, butched-up version of the Cosmo. Of the small plates, veal and pork sausage with lentils was moreish, but it was the beetroot carpaccio with ricotta and pumpkin seeds that became, on first taste, our new favourite thing ever. A main plate of guinea fowl breast stuffed with black pudding was rich and delicious. Desserts are retro, wildly sugary confections, led by a slice of spiced gingerbread with caramel ice cream thats a little taste of heaven. There were glitches an heirloom tomato salad was served chilled (a crime against any tomato) and less than pedestrian, while the sea bass ceviche lacked a certain, necessary sharpness. But nothing was out-and-out bad, and this is already one of our favourite dining spots in town if not always for supper, then absolutely for odd-time, off-peak grazing.
The ELLEuk Score
Good for: Quick bite after work; pre-theatre; first date; group dinner; work lunch/dinner
Style of food: Modern British all-day brasserie
Prices & Other Details at the Riding House Cafe
Address: The Riding House Café, 43-51 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 7PQ
Opening times: 8am-11pm Mon-Fri; 9am-11pm Sat; 9am-10pm Sun
Average price per person for a two-course meal without wine: £18
Price of bottle of house wine: £16.50, Albizu Tempranillo Tinto (red)/La Brouette Blanc NV (white)
Price of glass of house wine: £3.90 (as above)
Price of glass of house champagne: £8.20, Devaux, Grande Réserve, NV
Price of bottle of house champagne: £45 (as above)
Private dining? Theres a private dining room for 16 covers
Garden/al fresco dining? No
Bar? Bar for cocktails and/or dining without reservations.
Best tables? The corner tables in the southern end of the dining room, furthest from the bar and the big communal table by the entrance, are the quietest.
Who goes? BBC employees, media types generally and West End shoppers.
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus