Riding House Cafe, W1W 7PQ

A cafe and bar at the junction of Riding House Street in Fitzrovia, which has been opened by the same people behind similar ventures on Bermondsey Street (The Garrison and Village East).

This unlovely site at the base of a charmless office block has seen a number of chains pass through (Ha! Ha! was followed by a Slug & Lettuce) before its most recent stint as a Indian curry bar called Chutney & Lager. Now it's been capably refurbished for an altogether more upmarket venture. There's still little to remark upon on the exterior, though they've done their best with signage, lights and new paint, but inside the worn old bar has been completely replaced with something sturdier and wooden, with bar chairs surrounding it, and a long table down the middle of the premises for casual diners. A few more tables are up a few steps alongside the windows, primarily it seems for drinkers. The other side of this two-roomed space is fitted out for dining, with orange leather banquettes and comfy chairs photo, not to mention the rather disturbing lamps made from squirrels down the back.

Opening hours are from 8am for breakfast. They are open on weekends as well, unusual for this area of town, but it's a short walk from the prime shopping areas of Oxford Street and Regent Street.

The breakfast menu covers a good range photo of breakfast menu in Apr 2011. On Ewan's first visit to a nearly-empty restaurant, he tried the chorizo hash brown photo, the potato moist but crisped up outside, with liberal chunks of chorizo throughout and two perfectly poached eggs on top of portobello mushrooms. An excellent and satisfying breakfast. A fine glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice comes to £2.70, with a large macchiato at £2.80. A later visit for the full English (£9.40) photo was less satisfying, but mainly because the poached eggs were hard inside, leaving the toast dry as well, though all the ingredients on the plate were top quality and the bacon was particularly excellent (crispy in the American fashion).

A lunchtime visit was busier, but the food was also good. Ewan had a seared sea trout, which was nicely set off by a lemony vinaigrette, while a friend's burger was cooked as ordered and served on a chunky wooden board (they have two burger options, a regular cheeseburger and their Titchfield Burger, which includes a slab of foie gras and correspondingly pricier).

The drinks list focuses on wines and cocktails, but they retain a few draught beer fonts (Beck's, Stella and Guinness) as well as offering some nicely-chosen bottled beers (including Harviestoun Schiehallion, served in a chilled glass).

Ewan's verdict: The opening couple of weeks were the 'soft opening', and they were offering a 50% discount on food, so it would not be fair to comment at this point on the service or the waiting times, but the food was excellent. I shall therefore no doubt be returning even after the end of the soft opening.

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Last visited by Ewan, 28 April 2011. Opening hours taken from website, April 2011.

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OS X co-ord: 529101 OS Y co-ord: 181575 (Latitude: 51.517842 Longitude: -0.139118)
Last edited 2012-05-20 16:26:56 (version 23; diff). List all versions.