Restaurant Review: Riding House Café, Fitzrovia

You know how it is. You’re in town and you want to meet up with your mates for a bite to eat somewhere that’s quiet enough so you can all chat but buzzy enough to create a good atmosphere. As Londoners, we all know this should be easy yet somehow finding this perfect place often turns out to be difficult.

Well now I can let you into a secret – all you’ve got to do is head to the Riding House Café on Great Titchfield Street. Here, in a large open space, you can meet for drinks, snacks or even a full-blown meal. There are enough nooks and crannies to suit everyone and it’s easy to start the night at the bar with a few nibbles then dine in the restaurant area later on.

Since it opened in 2011, the Riding House Café has been the haunt of many BBC workers and you can see why they keep coming back for more. It’s smart and polished without being too intimidating and its all-day menu provides killer breakfasts, as well as late night suppers with everything else in between.

On the night we visited, the place was packed (so do book) and on a cold evening we were thankful to be ushered into our leather banquette. Taking a tip from the waitress, we tried out a couple of unusual cocktails – the Petal and the Pear Drop Royale – while we decided what to eat.

Both came in funky vintage glasses and were as good as the offerings from London’s top cocktail bars. Brasserie-style eating is positively encouraged here so you can go for tapas-esque dishes or for a full three courses if you’re feeling hungry.

The joy here is that you won’t have a snooty waiter breathing down your neck, demanding you choose something different for every course. Looking around at our fellow diners, we soon realised that the portions here are very generous (hurrah!) so we opted for a shared starter of seared scallops with pancetta and cauliflower puree. Firm and flavoursome, it was a good choice.

I loved this place so much that two weeks later I went back for a solo coffee one afternoon and the service then was just as good

The main menu offers brasserie favourites like steak and chips and burgers alongside a good selection of veggie and vegan meals. I went for the Asian-inspired coconut chicken with rice and peanuts, while my friend couldn’t resist the house burger.

Both turned out to be good choices, but special praise going to the juicy burger. Like all good restaurants, the wine list here is filled with great choices by the glass as well as the bottle, so you don’t have to choose something that turns out to be a bit of a compromise.

And the pudding? Well what sane person could possibly resist the house speciality – the gooey and delicious cheesecake with passion fruit sauce? Two spoons, of course.

I loved this place so much that two weeks later when I was in the neighbourhood I went back for a solo coffee one afternoon and the service then was just as good as at dinner. That’s says a lot about the Riding House Café.

43-51 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia W1W 7PQ;