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The Only Running Footman - Restaurant Review by Louise Elgin

The Only Running Footman
5 Charles Street
London W1
Tel: 020 7499 2988

Tucked just behind Berkeley Square is The Only Running Footman, a newly refurbished establishment with a very inviting character. Having ascended the stairs from the bustling pub below, one is met by delightful and elegant décor with a timeless, understated ambience. The walls are lined with historical portraits and cartoons, and there are comfy velvet chairs, slatted blinds and a cosy fire-place. The room is small but the tables are well spaced - the service is personal and relaxed and there is a feeling of dining in a private and exclusive club. The kitchen is overseen by chef Jeremy Hollingsworth whose previous experience includes six years working in Marco Pierre White restaurants, where he helped win a coverted Michelin star for Quo Vadis. As I had previously dined so spectacularly at The Bull in Highgate (owned by the same award-winning group), I had high expectations.

The menu has plenty to entice and I was very happy to read on the front in big proud writing that all the meat is reared in farms that have been approved by the Footman. Starters included tagliatelle of langoustine; foie gras; and snails. I began with a risotto of braised celery, baby beetroot and parmesan. It was a lush red in colour, creamy, and full of tangy flavour. It was totally moreish and, although filling, left me wanting more. The Scottish hand-dived scallops were juicy, light and succulent, and came served with a fine contrasting piquant tomato sauce.

To follow, there were six main courses and two specials of the day. We almost had to flip a coin as there were so many avenues of temptation to choose between: Gloucester Old Spot slow roast pork with potato and apple galette; pan-fried Welsh black beef fillet with foie gras; and roasted monkfish served with a bisque sauce. I tried the Suffolk free-range chicken, served with mash, hazelnuts and a chive dressing. It was a generous helping, with a delicate nutty taste accompanied by a wonderfully creamy mushroom sauce. The loin of venison was both tender and succulent with a rich flavour, proving to be a fine companion to the peppery and smoky Argentine Malbec we were quaffing - (£25 a bottle). The wine list has been helpfully split into various sections, such as ‘Juicy & Spicy’ and ‘Light to Medium Bodied’.

For pudding, there were six choices, including white chocolate and hazelnut parfait with passion fruit coulis, and apple tatin with cinnamon ice cream. We tried the bread and butter pudding with vanilla ice cream, which was all it should be: moist, creamy, and filling, total comfort food to fortify against the cold and dark winter’s night outside.

Apparently The Only Running Footman has two personas - busy and bustling at lunchtime, calm and dignified at dinner. Whenever you choose, I very much doubt you will be disappointed.

Louise Elgin. January 2008.

A meal for two with wine and water is about £90.00

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