35 Maiden Lane, London, London, WC2E 7LB
- Tel: 020 7836 5314
Rules is one of London's oldest restaurants and was established in 1798. The classic English menu offers simple cooking such as fish, game and beef. There are four private room that are available for hire for private parties up to 24 people.
Top Quality Restaurant
19/12/2010 by jonkelly
If you want a good meal this is a good place to come. Roast beef and very big Yorkshire Pudding along with spinage as a side order filled me up. Followed by a delicious desert of butterscotch and toffey and served with a nice glass of wine with coffee to follow all for around £80. The decor is very up market with expensive pictures all over the walls. The other customers also seem to be up market we were chatting to a couple from Scotland in London to see a play as we were. It is a set two hour sitting that you get. All the tables are booked up in advance. We were told 15 people were waiting just in case there were cancellations. We were served by a Hungarian waiter whom denied that the horseraddish sause was the best I had ever had but that I should try it pickled! He told us the restaurant was the oldest in London still in the same place, it has been there for two hundread years. It is quite a event going to this restaurant and not one likely to be forgotten in a hurry. Well worth a trip.Report this
A great traditional eatery
24/10/2010 by Worbit2
A great place to eat. Wonderful selection of traditional English fayre! Service good. A bit busy. You can hire private rooms upstairs for a special party where you are served personally. Can run out a bit expensive but worth every penny in my view.Report this
Terrible service and mediocre food - avoid!
05/10/2010 by AlexNathan
We went to Rules to celebrate a PhD graduation but were very disappointed. After waiting for 45 minutes for our main courses, the waiter said that they will arrive imminently. After another 15 minutes wait I asked him how long it will be, only to be reminded that he already told me. When I said that this was 15 minutes ago, he just walked off. Once the mains arrived, one was rather burnt (meat) and the fish wasn't fully cooked. On top of this experience, they added £15 service charge which I refused to pay. No apology from the manager, no complimentary desserts or drinks to make up for their mistake. For this price level (very expensive), we were very disappointed and can't recommend this restaurant. We certainly won't be eating there again!Report this
10/09/2009 by chrisp
Looking back now, to those bleak, monochrome days before I ate the Rules grouse, I suppose I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I had high hopes, of course, mainly thanks to Simon Majumdar and his giddy tour of the kitchens a few weeks back, and was also looking forward to trying the cocktails in the (still relatively new) Rules Bar upstairs. But it seemed like an odd venue - I was worried that, sitting on the reputation as London's Oldest Restaurant and therefore able to suck in enough heritage-starved American tourists and blousy Old Boys to keep the profits ticking over through good times and bad, that Rules didn't actually need to be any good at all. And, it goes without saying, very few of the places that don't need to be good actually, well, are. I was worried it would be staid, overpriced, stuffy, stifling and stressful. In the end, it was none of those things, and in fact turned out to the most wonderful evening I've enjoyed in a very long time. Events began in the dark-panelled, carpeted luxury of the upstairs bar, and with the creation of a drink called the Golden Negroni. Like all good cocktails, there was that balance of familiar comforting flavours and just a hint of the mysterious. Apparently lurking in it somewhere was a touch of Poire William. It was remarkably easy to drink. While waiting for various members of our party to arrive, I was invited to sit at the bar itself and watch the mixing of my next order up close. Called the Edge, it contained fresh grated horseradish and tasted of cosy evenings in front of a log fire. Perhaps not very seasonal, but delicious nonetheless. After an hour or so of blissful contentment which passed as if it was five minutes, it was time to move downstairs and take our seats for dinner. With its high ceilings and walls covered in memorabilia and paraphernalia, Rules feels every one of its 211 years old. How nice, though, to be in a restaurant that has gathered its mementos and photographs honestly and gradually over many years, instead of buying them all at once in a bid to invent an illustrious past like so many gastropubs. This is a place with real history, and a confidence in its own reputation as a London dining destination. And we were about to find out why. My starter was Morecambe Bay potted shrimps, one of my favourite comfort foods at the best of times, but here, thanks to Rules' use of lobster butter to bind the sweet crustaceans together, it took on a new, luxurious identity. I will admit that my knowledge of potted shrimp was previously limited to the little plastic pots you can buy at foodie markets, but even so, these were lovely. And although my dish came on the back of a recommendation from His Maj, the standards of the other starters on our table were equally high - in particularly a gorgeous dressed crab with a perfectly balanced brown meat mix. And then the grouse. It will give you an idea of how very reasonable the prices are in this restaurant when I tell you that this labour-intensive, hand caught game bird was at only £27.50 the most expensive item on the Rules menu last night. But in this blogger's humble opinion, the experience it delivered was close to priceless. Served with crispy bacon, some duck liver paté on toast and the traditional game chips, the only slightly unusual element was a few sprigs of highland heather protruding from the back of the bird. And yet almost before the first bite of the gorgeously pink, moist meat had reached my lips, I knew this was going to be something special. The smell - oh, lordy, the smell - it was of open countryside, highland moors and healthy living. It was an aroma that did more than simply get the taste buds going, it assaulted my emotions directly, whisking me back to childhood trips to Cumbria and of long walks on hot summer's days. And it was no less affecting in the mouth - to call the flavour "gamey" is to not even touch the surface of how extraordinarily, wonderfully powerful the flavour of this little bird was - a deep, rich flavour like no other animal I've ever tasted. I ate in stunned, intense silence, methodically pulling every bit of the carcass apart and savouring every last morsel of offal from inside and out. Later in the evening I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror; I had grouse blood splattered down the front of my white shirt and looked like Sweeney Todd after a particularly busy day. I was so overwhelmed I hadn't even noticed at the time. After dinner, we moved back upstairs once again and allowed Brian Silva, the head barman, to gently bring us down from our game-fuelled high with a plate of Colton Basset stilton and Pedro Ximines dessert sherry. We chatted happily across the bar and drank wonderful cocktails until we were the last people in the room. It was a magical evening, one of those nights where every element of every bite and slurp brings joy and each moment slides blissfully into the next. But it was the grouse that was the star of an evening not short of highlights. That I recommend Rules as a restaurant should by now be obvious - you absolutely, positively have to go, and soon, before the season is over. It's just too good to miss.Report this
01/08/2009 by moreteavicar
Established in 1798, Rules has served traditional English fayre for over 200 years. This warm and inviting restaurant sits snuggly in a back street of London's Covent Garden. The red banquettes and varnished wood detail are complemented by a wealth of treasures adourning the walls of the intimate dining area. From Vanity Fair prints (I had the honour of being seated next to the Prince of Monaco) and exquisite portraits to a collection of game bird prints and mounted antlers. You are transported to a world of English tradition: a mixture of hunting, shooting and fishing, the elegance of the country manor and warm caring atmosphere of the family dining room. In this age of always online connectivity, Rules' no mobile phone policy helps to ensure a relaxed and uninterrupted meal. Even I, a self-diagnosed text junkie, appreciated a break from the constant barrage of beeping, buzzing and vibrating. There is no dress code, however, I would advise a minimum of "smart casual". You run the risk of feeling slightly out of place if you arrive in your shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops. I had the pleasure of visiting during the Christmas season. The glistening decorations only added to the snug homely feel. Rules is one of the most flexible and accommodating restaurants around. Perfect for a family meal (well behaved children only please) or a sophisticated get together with some friends. I dined alone (I do have friends but I had left it rather last minute to find a lunch partner). So many restaurants can make lone diners feel very awkward. But not so here. My single table was tucked away but not hidden. Above my seat was a magazine rack with an assortment of today's papers, providing a welcome change from staring as the table cloth (normally I would send a few text messages, but see above for mobile phone policy!) The staff at Rules are helpful and polite and are not over-bearing. I find it extremely annoying to be asked every five minutes whether everything is ok or whether I need anything else. But the waiters provided a well-balanced service, impeccably turned out in traditional uniforms. The menu is bursting with country favourites and nursery classics. The food is kept simple, but the use of fresh, high quality produce makes a very noticeable difference to the taste. I am a very keen proponent of fresh ingredients, locally sourced and packed full of flavour, as opposed to tasteless supermarket pap. And so it seems are Rules. Rules owns The Lartington Estate, Teesdale in the High Pennines, which produces an array of high quality game and meat, which is used in the restaurant. I started my lunch with the Potted Shrimp. This classic of the Afternoon Tea arrived presented with a small salad garnish and some toast. The shrimp was well seasoned, with a peppery after taste, but without overpowering the flavours of the sea. Although the portion looked small - it was just enough to whet my appetite. The main course consisted of roast partridge, with bacon, brussel sprouts and chestnuts. The golden bird arrived in a small copper roasting dish, surrounded by vibrant buttery sprouts and crumbly chestnuts. The partridge was still juicy and succulent and was complimented by its sweet, but not sickly, jus. Presentation is as important element of the eating experience. I was delighted to see the couple at the table in front of me being served their soup at the table from a small silver soup dish, as opposed to arriving ready-plated. These little touches may seem eccentric, but somehow make you appreciate the food more. I finished my lunch with my good friend the apple crumble. Baked and served in an individual ramekin, it provided a substantial portion of my favourite dessert. The Bramleys had a lemony hint to them and were slightly too tart for me (I have a very sweet tooth). The crumble was excellent and was fairly thick (my favourite part of this pudding really - the thicker the better!). The icing sugar garnish would have been better replaced with caster sugar (slightly caramelised). Each course was separated by a comfortable break. At no time did I feel rushed or pressured to give up my table. And after a sumptuous lunch I didn't feel too full or bloated. Traditional, succulent and well-balanced - Dining at Rules is like being at a friend's house for lunch. PS: Rules also do a beef roast with all the trimmings, but this is for a minimum of two persons.Report this
Cosy, old style luxury..pretty magical.
07/01/2009 by StarvinMarvin
I've been to Rules twice and loved it dearly both times. The first time was with a group of people and we took over one of the private rooms. Fortunately for me, I wasn't paying! The food, though pre-ordered so as to meet the requirements of the group, was delicious and the surroundings enchanting. The second time was for my anniversary dinner and was around Christmas time. If possible, the place feels even more enchanting, old school and cosy at Christmas, I'd definitely recommend it at the end of a Christmas shopping trip! So much bigger than our stomachs were our eyes, that we ordered the beef with roast potatoes, the biggest yorkshire pudding you ever saw and winter vegetables. It tasted so delicious we refused to be defeated and ate the lot (much to the annoyance of my digestive system). I would say, if you're an average portion kind of person, don't get a starter! The main meals really are quite substantial. The service is always equisite here. Rules has kept the old world charm, fantastic food and service without the stuffyness/snootyness of some other restaurants of it's type. It's expensive, but makes a very special and worthwhole treat.Report this
Traditional British food in traditional setting
24/12/2008 by ProfMagellan
I was in a bit of a lather when I arrived at Rules for luncheon with my oldest friend Harry Airborne. I had the previous evening seen quite the worst play of 2008, certainly one of the direst which I had ever seen at the Royal National Theatre, all the more disappointing as it was penned by David Hare who usually is capable of far, far better. For those who wish to save the price of a ticket, it was called Gethsemane. So I was much in need of Harry's stimulating and vibrant company as well as an excellent luncheon to restore my sense of equilibrium. I was not disappointed. It had been some years since I last visited to Rules. I have to say that I found the experience an enjoyable one. Apart from a cretinous welcome, "You are aware, Sir, that you will nedd to vacate your table by 2.00pm", the service was courteous and professional. We chose to share the roast beef which came with a vast Yorkshire Pudding rising up like a Pennine from the plate. The roast potatoes which might have been a touch crispier. The green veg of the day was an "extra" (brussels sprouts). As this was the festive season, we both ordered puddings from the extensive and impressive Rules' list. Harry had the apple and blackberry crumble. I opted for the treacle sponge. We shared a pot of very good custard. Rules is probably the oldest restaurant in London. It is quiet and comfortable and if you are searching traditional British cooking, it is a great place to go. Portions are generous: no nouvelle cuisine nor cell phones here. Lots of well behaved and quietly spoken suits and ties. As an antidote to David Hare's horrid and offensive political views, it was just the perfect place. Pricing reflects its high service level and Covent Garden location, not cheap but certainly not outrageous. I would like the green veg to have been included with the main course. Also: can I suggest that, given the adverse economic condition in which many Londoners currently find themselves, Rules introduces a luncheon menu prix fixe? One nice touch was the inclusion of London tap water on the menu.Report this
The place to go for game in London
14/09/2008 by Jongleur
Very traditional restaurant, very plush inside and appears to have been decorated by a madman with a hunting fixation! Rules is a funny place – tons of character and largely occupied by gentlemen of a certain age (we had a retired military gent on one side and a tableful of elderly priests on the other!) The restaurant has its own estate and therefore can provide beautiful fresh game in season. Food is rich and portions are generous, so although the prices can be high you don’t feel at all that you’re getting bad value. The atmosphere wouldn’t suit everyone though and on the day I visited I think we were the only people under 40 in the place!Report this
16/03/2008 by miffy
Despite being a very old, well established restaurant, Rules is not the most amazing place I have every eaten. HOwever the dress code (women in skirts or dresses)and the character makes it feel special. Full of character it is a fun meal out. However the food is somewhat limited being of that traditional english type. If you're looking for meat, posh potatoes and fish or game, then its great, though if you wanted something light, maybe a bit of Italian that usually appears on any menu, this is not the place. The food is good though and though it comes across as a posh restaurant, there are none of those small portions, you will be full. Expensive but just about worth it and evr so slightly pretentious.Report this
Good old fashioned grub
21/11/2007 by QueenB
This is my Dads favourite place when in London - hope that doesn't put you off - he is quite a clued up fella, my old man... Anyway, this is great for a pre-theatre dinner or as the other review said, a great Sunday roast. This is claimed to be the oldest restaurant in London, with its charming ambience, history in photos on the walls around the building, and smart waiters with impeciable service, its bound to go down a treat with the older generations, you can often find politicians and smart business men, enjoying the finest selection of game and meats. I love how they cook their beef in here, its melt in the mouth!! It isn't cheap but you get what you pay for and I think it has quite an exclusive feel to it.Report this
You can't beat Rules
02/10/2007 by rollers
Sunday lunch here is a must - ok so it is a very traditional restaurant, wood paneling, dead animal heads on the walls, but then their speciality is game. I had the best steak and kidney pie I have EVER had puddings and starters were fab. Just a lovely way to spend a Sunday lunch. Go - but make sure you have plenty of pennies as it isn't the cheapest place you could go. Service was excellent.Report this
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