The Rivington Grill is part of Caprice Holdings, so you have a reasonable idea of what to expect: a broad menu of British comfort food in a tasteful, trendy setting with a fashionable young clientele. The building is tucked away down a side street not far from Old Street tube station, and has a large dining room with an integrated bar area. Beyond that was hard to tell since the lighting was very gloomy indeed; I had trouble reading the menu, so poor was the light on our table. Starters were £6.50 - £14, main courses £9.75 - £26 with vegetables at £3.50 each, and desserts mostly a fiver or so. There was a small additional bar snack menu with choices such as scampi and chips for £10.50, or bangers and mash for £9.25.
The wine list had a couple of dozen whites and a similar number of reds from a variety of countries, starting at £16 a bottle, with mark-ups that are not extortionate by London standards, but not generous either. Examples are Leyda Reserva Chardonnay 2008 at £25 for a wine that costs around £6 in the shops, Pouilly Fume from Serge Dagenau 2007 at £35 for a wine that retails at around £11, and Chateau Batailley 2003 at £87 for a wine that you can buy for around £28.
Bread was served warm, a single choice of a fluffy white roll, which was pleasant enough (3/10). I began with Cornish crab, the flesh of which was scooped out but then put back into a shell for presentation, along with a chopped boiled egg and some well balanced mayonnaise (2/10). Summer vegetables salad had decent peas, beetroot, cherry tomatoes and pea shoots with a nice cider dressing that avoided being too acidic (2/10).
My main course rabbit, bacon and mustard pie had pastry that was not properly browned, bacon flavour that was missing in action but pleasant rabbit, and a mustard flavour that did not completely overwhelm the delicate flavour of the rabbit (2/10). Slightly better was a vegetarian “sausage” that was really a pair of risolles, fried with a filling of leek and Caerphilly cheese, garnished with salad leaves and a creamy leek sauce; the filling was properly seasoned and worked nicely (3/10). Side orders of carrots (overcooked) and mixed greens (ditto) were rather disappointing (barely 1/10)
Up until this point the meal had been around 2/10 level, but stepped up a gear with a really good apple and blackberry pie, the pasty delicate, the fruit having just the right amount of tartness but no more, along with well-made custard; this dessert was a real surprise to me, of a higher level than the rest of the meal (5/10). Staff were friendly despite a completely packed house, and the dishes arrived at a sensible pace. Overall it is hard to dislike a place like this, with an appealing menu and nice atmosphere. When you get the bill there is a sense that you have paid a bit more than is really justified by the cooking, though my dessert was an exception to that. The gloomy light meant that it was hopeless taking pictures of the food; perhaps another day I’ll try for a lunch and have another go.