Date of Last Visit: Monday, March 22nd, 2010
The Victims: John, Paul, Rachel, Ruth
The Damage: Unknown. John paid. But I know it wasn't cheap.
The Background: Everybody who's anybody seems to love Rules these days. Especially the cocktails.
But let me cut to the chase and spoil it for you now. I'mj just not so sure I'm going to be joining this specific club.
I feel a bit harsh writing that, and I don't mean to be so, but how else to say it? Yes, yes…I know I've only been there once and maybe I should give it all another chance, etc. etc. But at these prices, well…I'm not so keen.
Let me try to dissect my likes from my dislikes, based on my one visit with four Americans who wanted to go somewhere "British."
- The guy wtih the top-hap that greets you at the door.
- The British-ness and old-school atmosphere. (But…there's a but. Keep reading.)
- The deer antlers.
- The big comfy booths.
- The way they poured my soup out of a big tureen.
- The carafes of wine.
- The beautiful presentation of the roast beef.
- How they said it would take 45 minutes for the roast beef to arrive and it took like 20 instead. (Although I kinda thought that was weird.)
- The size of the Yorkshire pudding.
- The products in the ladies' loo.
- The prices.
- The lack of women. This is a dudes' retreat. An OLD dudes' retreat. (With all due respect.) Rules seems to appeal to a certain type of customer, or at least they did on the one (yes, just one) night I visited.
- The temperature (warm) of my house apertif, The Rules. (Tanquerray Gin, Dubonnet & Cremant Blanc de Blancs.) Maybe this was supposed to be served stirred, not shaken? I don't know. Blame it on my American-ness. I wanted this a bit chillier. Who likes warm gin?
- How John said the tomatoes in his back garden were more flavorful than the ones in his salad.
- The temperature (cooling) that my main–steak and chips–was served at.
- The time it took for our desserts to arrive. (Ages.)
- The response from the staff when we asked where our desserts were. "Oh, there was a problem in the kitchen and they needed to redo your dessert." Hello. This information should have been proactively offered, not sought out. Four out of five of us were jetlagged, so this delay was really wearisome. And you know…it kinda ruined everything…everyone sitting there. And sitting there…waiting.
Now when I threw some generally vague comments out there on Twitter, Simon of Dos Hermanos fame encouraged me to contact Rules directly and tell them what I thought. I never got around to doing that, and I probably should have. I'm a lazy git. But then again, I'm not one of those "restaurants should have three chances to get it right." I'm sorry. I'm there. We're' paying. Get it right.
The Verdict: Eh. (And lest you be distracted by all my points, the coolness of my main and the slowness of the dessert and the response to the slowness of the dessert were my primary gripes.)