Riding House Café; I’d heard the name drifting off many a London dwellers tongue but I myself was yet to visit. The time to go seemed apt upon an interview with the new Made in Chelsea cast, all of which name dropped the Fitzrovia fave. Plus, a peruse on Instagram informed me that Radio 1 DJ Greg James and entourage had attended the evening before to sit snug in a booth and chat music. So, off I trundled through a bustling Oxford Street, the crowds reflective of warmer climes boosting the capital’s population with enthusiastic bag shoppers and camera snappers.
Riding House Café, which opened up in 2011, is just one of three outposts in the group, the other two being Rail House Café (Victoria) and Village East (Bermondsey), is a stalwart member of the comfort food crew. There’s no horsing about when it comes to the name – the venue has been opened where stables once were, way back when. It’s one of those restaurants that, after a visit, you can recommend as a place of ease for quick buttermilk pancake brunches with pals, or in-and-out dinners after work over a cocktail from their new summer range. The airy, open space caters for all sorts of seating types, from intimate booths to wide open tables that look like they should be busy with sheets, folders and files over morning meetings and coffee. The wholesome space moves between a beaming centre piece bar with vivacious blue seats, to rustic wooden tables, low hanging lights, cacti and cosy armchairs.
We didn’t venture too off piste with our menu selections. Riding House Café tends to champion Brasserie-style dining so you can either go full-feast or tapas-style – the world, or menu so to speak, is your oyster! My highlight from the small sharing selection was the Brixham crab with avocado, taramasalata and keta caviar. Keta caviar, made with trout roe, works brilliantly when adding a splash of colour to canapes and it sat as fun and intriguing addition. For main, I devoured the coconut chicken with rice, peanuts and herbs. My favourite kind of dish is one that has splashes of coconut in and the steaming, simplistic dish heartily did the job of taming my appetite.
Other menu must-try’s include the vegetarian truffled portobello and spinach wellington and truffled sweet potato and quinoa burger, topped with vegan tzatziki and tomato which, we were informed, Chef Omereye has spent months perfecting. There’s also a whopping brunch selection on offer which has been boasted about by foodie Instgrammers. The menu includes shakshuka, a Burgerdict; poached egg, dry-aged beef patty, tomato, special hollandaise, muffin, and all of the expected classics.
The three all-day dining destinations have truly refined best British seasonal ingredients and reflected in this is the new cocktail menu which itself has had a refresh. Upon recommendation, I tried the Right on Thyme; thyme infused Lillet Blanc, coconut syrup and champagne. It was gorgeously refreshing, with cocktails served up in playful vintage glasses. The cocktail list is worth some exploration, the Birds and Bees with gin, lemon, honey and chamomile being another lip-smacker.
Overall, I loved Riding House Café. In future, I’d more likely go for a coffee grab and, most definitely, a brunch, as I feel it’s more suitable for the latter than, say, a fine-dining dinner – not that it pretends to be as such, of course. It’s a quirky and refreshing space, often frequented by the BBC I’m told, with absolutely no shortage in the way of food or friendly service. Plus, if you like what you’ve read here then get pumped for their Rail House Tracks; launching with a summer party on the 28th of June, musically themed cocktails will be partnered with DJs laying down a mix of house, funk and soul.