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Covent Garden

This golden oldie opened in 1798 and is now a grande dame of the Covent Garden scene, serving classic British dishes with an emphasis on game.

Rules may look as though nothing has changed for 50 years (or more, the restaurant was established in 1798), but this old-stager hasn’t made it this far without adapting to the times. Together with the dark wood and red colour scheme, patterned carpet, caricatures and old paintings are modern touches. Witness the Kate Middleton cocktail (Sipsmith gin, Pinky vodka, Lillet aperitif wine and crystallised violets and rose petals).

A menu of classics, with an emphasis on game, runs from potted shrimps to saddle of rabbit. Everything is cooked plainly, but with care and using decent ingredients – for example, the sirloin steak with béarnaise and chips, was pretty much perfect– golden chips, crunchy on the outside, hot and yielding on the inside; tender meat, grilled just-so and with real flavour. Guinea fowl caesar salad was an average salad lifted by top-notch bird; grilled plaice topped with artichokes and capers, served with a side of braised red peppers (from the specials list), scored for looks and flavour. Kir royal jelly with blackcurrant sorbet and summer fruits ‘salad’ made a good summer alternative to the wintery delights of golden syrup sponge pudding with custard.

Service is polite and attentive, characteristics much admired by the mainly middle-aged-and-over clientele. Like the menu, the Rhône Valley-oriented wine list holds no bargains, but is carefully constructed.


Venue name: Rules
Address: 35 Maiden Lane
Opening hours: Meals served noon-11.30pm Mon-Sat; noon-10.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Covent Garden
Price: Main courses £17.95-£34.50
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Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
1 person listening

What can I say about Rules - dining here literally feels like eating in Buckingham Palace, and this isn't too far from the truth, with a cocktail designed specifically by K Mids herself. Don't beat around the bush, go on Sunday - order the Roast beef (medium rare), and fill yourself to the brim with roasted spuds, and do not scrimp on the creamiest horseradish you've ever tasted ether. After that, if you have room, go for the sticky toffee pud. The only sad thing is that the Yorkshire Puddings used to be the size of your face and are now are only a quarter of the the size, and for the price of rustling up a bit of extra pancake batter, is it really worth the scrimping Rules?

Van B

The pie is great, but the pudding is truly historic. If you can get a party together for about 20, and a private room, this is one of the most fantastic experiences London has to offer. And you'll go back for the game...


This is a fantastic traditional British restaurant which is more of an event to go to. Unfortunately over the years it has lost a little bit of its touch however, I will still always bring people here who are new to London or visiting. Great experience.


Hands down the greatest place in London for a family pre-Christmas celebration- as has become our tradition.


I have been coming here for many years, but will not do so again for a long time. We were told that as we had arrived early we should go to the bar as our table was not yet ready. One of our party couldn't negotiate the steep climb to the bar so we elected not to comply and were made to feel unwelcome - it was explained that it was our fault for arriving early. Worst of all the Ladies lavatory was absolutely disgusting. It made one wonder about the standard of behaviour of ones fellow customers, the likely standards in the kitchen and the restaurant's attention to detail. There are many restaurants in London which are superb - sadly Rules is certainly no longer one of them.