A Twitter link to the Riding House Café’s opening offer confirmed that I am definitely my father’s daughter. Never one to pass up a bargain I booked a table for two on the opening night. It was buzzing with a packed bar, you can tell this place is going to be a popular post-work destination for trendy Soho types. The maitresse d’h greets me by name (spooky!) and you can immediately feel all the hard work that has gone into this place.
We weren’t sat by the taxidermied squirrels and more’s the pity, I love a bit of creepy taxidermy while I eat. We ordered the bread with artichoke puree (really good) and Nocellara del Belice olives which I’ve never had before. Mild and slightly less salty than your average olive they reminded me a little bit of samphire. The sharing plates are a nice way to do starters, we tucked into goat’s curd with figs and honey, slow roasted pork belly and seabass ceviche. Overall the first course was lovely, but the pork belly can’t beat Koya’s legendary cider braised version. The seabass ceviche was mixed with spring onions which gave it a faint whiff of veggie sandwich paste, but the coconut and mango cut through it nicely.The goat’s curd was delicious, soft with an aromatic honey and perfect figs.
Moonface ordered the seared sea trout and I had the guinea fowl with black pudding, a rich and satisfying dish. I was still hungry so I opted for the gingerbead and caramel ice cream, absolutely lovely and you see Moonface’s phantom hand in the pic, reaching in for the kill. It was a lovely way to spend a Friday night, genteel but still with a bit of atmosphere. The decor reminds me of a gussied up version of the dearly departed Quality Chop House in Farringdon RIP, all exposed pipework and rectangular tiling.
The service was a strange mix of attentive and haphazard which is undoubtedly an opening-night learning curve, but our waiter sort of put his arm around Moonface’s shoulder a total of four times. FOUR TIMES. Another point is the price, it’s priced along the lines of places like Vinoteca but the I’m not sure that the food is quite up to that standard. I can see it being a really nice destination for people who are a bit past getting leathered in the pub but would still like a bit of excitement or a sense of an event from their night out aka ME and the location on Great Titchfield Street means it wont be short of potential customers.