February 2016: The Only Running Footman to close on 20 February.
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“There’s plenty of elbow room in the spacious dining room” of this boozer, near Berkeley Square – “very handy for a Mayfair working lunch”, or indeed any other kind of occasion.
“Solid”, “useful”, “consistent” – the sort of epithets reporters apply to the “traditional” dining possibilities at this “busy” boozer, near Claridge’s.
The Only Running Footman W1
In the heart of Mayfair, a very useful corner gastropub, open 365 days a year; sibling to the House (Islington) and Bull (Highgate), it offers similarly solid cooking, and - in this part of town - the prices demanded for it seem eminently reasonable!
It's not just in Mayfair that there are still - yes, still - far too few decent places for an unpretentious, affordable meal. All credit then to this corner gastropub newcomer - from the same stable as the House and the Bull - which not only offers precisely that formula, but is promising to do it 365 days a year.
We stopped by a for a quick lunch in the ground floor bar (largely given over to tables). It's had a bit of a makeover, but the most eye-catching thing about the place - some of whose windows have false bottle-glass - is that it still feels as if it should be in a Surrey high street, rather than one of the priciest postcodes in the world. Perhaps that's part of its charm. The crowd on the day of our visit was also less glitzy than such a location might suggest.
The editorial 'we' in this case comprised just one luncher, and we just had a quick lunch of haddock 'n' chips, treacle tart and coffee. Perhaps we were just lucky, but it really was just the job. The chips were particularly interesting. Fat chips can be horrible, but these were exemplarily moreish in both their taste and their crispy texture. The tart also rated mention, steering that difficult middle course between being heavy handedly rustic on the one hand and too poncey on the other. Incidentals such as bread (made, for once, on the premises) and coffee were also well up to scratch.
The only problem, we suspect, is that this thoroughly useful but quite small place - open all day as well as all year - is going to be far too popular at peak times.
Upstairs, there's a rather conventional small dining room, offering some slightly more ambitious dishes.
5 Charles St, London, W1J 5DF
Last orders: 10 pm