Got a pal who’s a designer? Bring them to Rail House Cafe. This airy younger sibling of Fitzrovia’s Riding House Cafe in Victoria’s shiny new Nova development is full of interesting quirks they’ll appreciate. Like chest-height tables that appear to have been made by ransacking the Royal Attic and upcycling the Queen’s old prams. Or the ceiling, which is tantalisingly detached from the glass walls, enabling them to stretch to double-height unfettered by the chore of having to hold the floor up. Overlooking it all, an open staircase, from which you can survey the scene below – buzzing on a Tuesday evening – from the imposing square bar at its centre, to the open kitchen, to high-backed boothish bench seats down the sides. Some tables are topped with handsome pale wood, others with shiny tiled chequerboards of creamy white and aquamarine.
As for the food. Well. Much of it is excellent. Like the addictively salty Marmite butter hanging out with a crusty brown roll. Or the brilliant reuben sandwich, a generous heap of moreish salt beef, melted cheese and mild sauerkraut snuggled between two slices of good-quality toasted rye. Another good choice is a rich Caesar salad, with a creamy, garlicky dressing, soft-centred quail eggs and crispy pancetta; or possibly a small plate of crispy baby squid, served battered and deep-fried with a pot of chunky tartare. Plus pieces of deep-fried chilli.
RHC does like to dabble in the exotic flavours of south America and the Orient. Unfortunately, this is something it’s just not very good at. A seabass ‘ceviche’ was nothing of the sort. Pleasant, yes, but lacking in citrus notes; while the coconut chicken came with a pile of excessively wet rice.
Still, if you stick to the Anglo-US stuff, you can have a very nice time. Staff were soliticous and full of smiles. Much like its big sis, this is a great place to hang out with friends. Especially if those friends are designers.