the riding house café
Last week, on a particularly rainy Thursday, I met the glowing K at The Riding House Cafe for a spot of lunch. Flustered by the downpour (which magically dried up as soon as I rolled indoors), I dumped my dripping brolly in the corner, plopped on the seat and immediately ordered a cocktail (a very refreshing Quince Collins) to calm my frazzled nerves. Drink in hand, I was ready to attack the food menu.
We were advised that two small plates and a main each would be appropriate for lunch so ordered accordingly. The small plates were all pretty good. Sea Bass Ceviche with Lime and Chilli was fresh, well-seasoned and zippy without being too acidic.
Beetroot carpaccio with Sheeps ricotta and a Merlot vinaigrette (competitively priced at £3) featured sweet wafer-thin root vegetable, beautiful soft creamy cheese and a handful of sunflower seeds that gave the otherwise simple plate a nice textural contrast.
The Baby Squid with Chorizo, Paprika and Chilli was a mass of tender tentacles in a smoky tomato sauce. The overriding flavour was that of chorizo and the squid got lost a little, but it was very tasty indeed and ideal for mopping up with chunks of bread.
Probably the best of the starting offerings was the Moorish Lamb with Smoked Aubergine – the charred slabs of meat were juicy and pink in the centre, and the creamy baba ghanoush a lovely counterpart. Pretty generous portions for a small plate too.
K wasn’t too hungry so chose the Superfood Herb Salad for her main, and she seemed happy with the vibrant mix of roasted butternut squash, broccoli, red cabbage, bulghur wheat and leaves.
I was torn between the Cheeseburger and Chorizo Hash Brown, but went with the latter when our waitress convinced me that it was a lighter option and more suitable for lunch than a towering burger. I wish I hadn’t sought her advice – the soggy potato patty that arrived was bigger than my head and wet in the centre like a tortilla. It tasted fine but disappointingly lacked the crunchy crust one would expect from a hash brown – it was more of a very thick rosti. On the plus side, the poached egg was gooey, spinach well-dressed and mushroom meaty. It could also feed a party of four. Needless to say, I left most of it.
Stuffed to the gills with potato, I declined dessert and went instead to Kaffeine across the road for a post-lunch brew.
On my next visit I will be steering clear of the hash browns, sticking to the small plates, ordering plenty of cocktails and hopefully sit in the bar area (this time round we were stuck in the very orange and slightly staid side room, peeking wistfully into the far cooler main space).
The Riding House Café
43-51 Great Titchfield St
London W1W 7PQ
t. 020 7927 0840