Wednesday 22 June
I venture north of Oxford Street at the request of my lovely friend Alexandra, just returned from a three month stint in Silicon Valley; to The Riding House Café in Great Titchfield Street. It’s not as far as I feared, a mere hop and a skip north of Eastcastle and Margaret Streets.
As I approach the semi industrial windows on the corner site I remember its previous incarnation: an Indian restaurant cum bar which was obviously not faring well even in the run up to Christmas last year. Now it’s transformed into two areas, the so-called Dining Hall and the Dining Room. I haven’t had time yet to decipher the difference save that the Dining Hall is, as described, the main bit with a long and attractive bar surrounded by many tables; so there’s a good choice of appropriate eating sites.
We ate in the Dining Room: oak panelled like a gentlemens’ club with Moroccan red banquettes that are a wonder to sit on. While awaiting the menu I spy wildlife on the walls in the shape of stuffed squirrel light fittings. No probs, they’re greys, so you can relax. I guess it’s a risky joke. It’s my fault but I know some coves who couldn’t eat with a stuffed squirrel manically climbing a wall near to where they are. I get the joke.
Service is brisk and the menu American, once again. Also, it’s haunted, maybe it’s just me, by a wide strip of small plate offerings set out in a wide band on the landscape menu. Alex wants salad, and I think, what could be a better way to test an American style menu than to order salad. Before doing so I tried one of the small plates, a sea bass ceviche with lime and chilli, and while waiting we both drank a delicious New Zealand sauvignon blanc. There is a good choice of bottles and wine by the glass.
The small plate ceviche was almost as good as my favourite in Scott’s. The fish was firm and clear and just enough chilli for some bite, and not too much lime. A good start.
The salads were good they passed muster as American salads. Mine a chopped salad with palm heart and marinated chicken, as good as my last chopped salad in Santa Monica. Alex’s, the superfood and herb salad also with chicken. I knew hers was good, because we had agreed to share and she wolfed hers down protectively, or maybe she was just hungry.
But for the rest of the menu steaks, burgers, rack of pork, ”heritage” tomato and pesto tart, a sort of upmarket Tootsies or Giraffe with stuffed fauna and a good bar. I want to return to that bar. I’m pleased it’s on my favourite route home.