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Only Running Footman

5 Charles Street, London, England, W1J 5DF, United Kingdom

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The staff were unable to explain the unusual name of this pub, which has been used as the title of a thriller set in Mayfair. The dining room is an upstairs room above the main pub. It has low ceilings, is carpeted with cream walls and assorted framed photo portraits on the walls. There is a mix of banquette seating and regular chairs. The wine list extended over two pages and had Rioja Urbina 1998 for £33 for a wine that costs around £15 in the shops, and Mas de Daumas Gassac at £59 for a wine that costs about £19. At the cheaper end, Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz was £26.50 for a wine that costs around £11. 

There was some muzak playing, but not too loudly. Bread was made from scratch, a choice of slices of either nice plain white bread with good texture though a little lacking in salt, or a brown bread with raisins that worked less well. Scallops with cauliflower puree is a classic combination, and the scallops were cooked nicely, though the cauliflower puree was a little grainy and needed more careful sieving (12/20). Better was a goat cheese tatin with poached pear salad topped with rocket. This had decent pastry and the idea of pears to balance the richness of the goat cheese was a good idea, though adding strawberries as a garnish was a step too far (13/20). 

Grilled sea bream was simply cooked, with green beans, red onion and tomato salad. Unfortunately the green beans were entirely raw (11/20).  Chips on the side were good, reasonably crisp (13/20). I had a pork belly with red cabbage, which looked grim even as it arrived. My wife's first comment was: “I hope that tastes better than it looks”. The red cabbage was a soggy mess, wildly overcooked and barely seasoned. The pork belly (I dish I eat regularly and was looking forward to) had a layer of crackling that was so rock-hard I was literally unable to cut through it with the knife provided, while the pork belly itself had an odd, cotton wool texture (10/20). The dish was really poor, and I sent this back, only to be told that the chef felt that the dish was “perfect”. Hmm. This did not inspire us to try dessert.  If this is really how the chef thinks cabbage should taste then I have serious concerns, and this dish was out of character with the rest of the meal, which was quite decent. A rather odd meal. At a cost of £112.78 for two starters, one main course, a vegetable side dish and a decent bottle of wine (and some water) this is hardly a bargain, even in Mayfair (main courses are around £20). Sorry about the murky pictures; this is yet another London restaurant with poor lighting.

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