Monday 12 October 2009

The Only Running Footman, London

What is the etiquette when the meal you ordered turns out to be so much better than your boyfriend's that you sense he is starting to eye off yours?

This person, the love of your life, is suffering cruelly - but is is really necessary to share? Is it acceptable to pretend not to notice the insipid little salad on the other side of the table, nod encouragingly and wince a little as you bite into your own deliciously juicy feast in the vain hope it might discourage any temptation for him to help himself to your chips?

So was Sunday's moral dilemma. 

The Peanut Gallery and I are mildly competitive when it comes to ordering. No-one likes to be left with the dud dish. The Peanut Gallery has even been known to feign indecision, refusing to reveal his selection, until the waitress arrives.

Usually are experiences are roughly equal in quality. Sometimes there is a clear victor. Sunday was one such occasion.

After an exhausting morning watching gazelle-like runners pound away at the London half marathon, the Greedy Diva, The Peanut Gallery and their inspiringly sport friends (some fresh from participating in the event) met up near the Hyde Park finish line - at The Only Running Footman in the swanky streets of Mayfair. The object: to refuel with some serious pub fare.

The Only Running Footman looks like the sort of pretty, English pub you might find  in a country village. Downstairs, the pub is lively, boisterous and bright, with big bay windows, and wooden floorboards and furniture, endowing it with a friendly but chic feel. Upstairs, the soft furnishings are more elegant, and the ambience more subdued and serious.

The breadbasket is always a good indicator of things to come, and the hearty walnut break here was greedily devoured.

The menu is largely traditional British pub fare, done well - 3 kinds of roasts (lamb, beef, and an impressive pouisson with cranberry) with Yorkshire pud and plentiful trimmings, battered fish and fat, hand cut chips, potted Morecombe Bay shrimp, fish cakes with poached egg, a warm veggie option of butternut squash, buffalo mozzarella, broccoli, mustard fruits and Amaretti gratin and some good looking desserts, like spiced banana tarte tartin with dulce de leche ice cream.

But today, in empathy with my triumphant running friends seeking urgent calorific relief, it had to be the burger. And this burger was glorious. OK, so the burger pictured was no supermodel. But beauty is more than skin deep. Thick, juicy and flavoursome, with a nicely toasted bun, tomato, cheese, lettuce and a gorgeously sweet relish - this burger had personality. The Greedy Diva napkined up, and hoed in heartily. And, in the spirit of half marathon day where everyone's a winner, she even threw the odd morsel The Peanut Gallery's way. This was the best burger the Greedy Diva has sampled for some time.

TPG made the somewhat surprising move of ordering the crispy sesame duck salad. I can't even remember the exact description on the menu, because who ever scrutinises the salad option  in a pub? All I know is, I saw a lot of leaves being pushed dejectedly around a plate while The Peanut Gallery stared down my burger.

The Only Running Footman is a solid performer, so long as you stick to traditional British pub fare and (need I say it?) steer clear of Asian style salads. All up, lunch was just over £20 per head, including drinks,

But on the sharing dilemma I think, my fellow greedies, the answer must always be a resounding "yes". Yes, share. Share away. Because one day the running shoe may well be on the other foot.

The Only Running Footman, 5 Charles Street, London W1J 5DE

Only Running Footman on Urbanspoon

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