I love a good gastropub. It consistently satisfies my need for a good cosy pub atmosphere whilst still serving good food and wine. Growing up in Yorkshire, I’m pretty familiar with a good ol’ pub and as much as I miss the quirky, historic pubs with a loud rowdy atmosphere, in London you want to get away from the noise and find your own sanctuary.
The Only Running Footman situated in the heart of Mayfair, encompasses both the comforting pub-feel whilst is also steeped in British history. Dating from 1749 and with its full title, ‘I Am the Only Running Footman’ it was originally a tavern where manservants on foot would congregate after a busy day of carting aristocrats’ carriages and lights as well as paying toll-keepers.
Interestingly enough, the downstairs pub is far different from the upstairs restaurant and although may appear busy from the outside with plenty of men in business suits enjoying a drink or two after work, the upstairs is tranquil and you’d easily mistake being elsewhere in the country.
With simple teal furnishing, and coral roses on each table, the setting is peaceful, unpretentious but with enough to make you feel at home.
When you’re dying of hunger after a busy day at the office what better than to munch on warm, soft bread. Easily the better of the bread baskets I’ve encountered in London.
For starters I chose the Dorset crab on toast which was generously scattered with soft, succulent pink crab, broad beans, pea shoots and a sharp lemon dressing.
If I had one complaint, it would be the toast was a little crispy making it more difficult to eat. Although, it may be because my impatience sometimes gets the better of me.
The highlight of the meal and one that left me wanting more was the ceviche of king scallops.
Beautifully presented on a bed of ice with a gentle scattering of spring onion on top, the raw scallops were tender, fresh and with a drizzle of the homemade Marie Rose sauce served separately, I couldn’t have asked for a better dish. The best raw scallops I’ve ever tried.
I decided for a more meaty course for my main and opted for the rack of lamb served medium-rare with pomme écrasée (or mashed potato for us common folk), a sweet shallot puree and mint jus.
The lamb was perfectly cooked tender and fatty to keep the meat juicy and a decent size to lap all the shallot and mint jus which wasn’t overly sweet and lifted the taste of the meat. The pomme écrasée was also delightful and how I like my mash, lightly mashed enough to give smoothness but enough texture to make you feel like you’re eating potato.
The desserts unfortunately didn’t fare as well and although the Eton mess was tasty, the strawberry sauce had a superficial taste that you’d associate with products from the supermarket. It wasn’t bad per se, but it wasn’t as mind-blowing as the other dishes.
My least favourite dish of the evening was the sticky toffee pudding. Although an indulgent pudding and on first glance looks succulent, the sponge was dry which was an incredible shame as the toffee sauce was beautifully sweet and of the right consistency and the vanilla ice cream was also just as delightful.
The Only Running Footman is a gastropub that blew me away and when you have stunning fish and meat dishes you can almost forgive the restaurant for missing the mark on its desserts. In such a prime elegant location, the prices are on the higher-end but trust me when I say that I will definitely be retuning to try more of the menu especially those from the raw section.
I was invited to review but all thoughts are honest and of my own.
– The Only Running Footman, Mayfair