Clever, eclectic menus at buzzy Riding House Cafe

Brunswick Centre restaurant is vast and cavernous, with charismatic, capable staff

Thursday, 7th July — By Tom Moggach


PLANS to axe the 24 bus come as a terrible shock – especially if you like to eat out. For many, it’s a quick route to the bright lights of the West End.

But I’m increasingly fond of the 46, which swoops through rejuvenated King’s Cross and drops you a short walk from Russell Square, a neighbourhood home to a surprising number of dining destinations.

Master Wei Xi’An, for example, is a cheap and cheerful favourite, serving biang biang noodles and more; Café Deco is laid back yet classy; Noble Rot offers a wine list that’s second to none.

Explore the The Brunswick Centre – that 1970s classic of brutalist design – and you will find more surprises, including a new branch of Riding House Café.

The original Riding House opened more than a decade ago in Fitzrovia; a second in Victoria back in 2017.

This all-day restaurant has a reputation for clever, eclectic menus crammed full of things you crave to eat.

The extensive breakfast and brunch menu travels through peach porridge to deep-dish pancakes, with a whole section dedicated to the buttery joys of hollandaise sauce.

There’s a global feel to the cooking – with coconut dahls or a smoked pepper Cajun stew. Their top chef’s Caribbean heritage often shines through.

This new branch is vast and cavernous, occupying the site of the now-defunct Carluccio’s. Outside, there are tables on the terrace – a good spot for people watching.

We sat on green velvet banquettes inside, surveying a space that has been deftly designed to create a clubby, buzzy feel. Dozens of large tropical plants line the windows; huge hessian lampshades dangle above. There’s a stylish mishmash of upcycled furniture, including mahogany doors salvaged from a member’s club in Mayfair.

In a large space like this, the challenge is managing the pressure of service. We watched it relentlessly build as the place got busy. The staff were keen, charismatic and capable but just about managing to keep up.

The meal began with a sourdough roll with miso butter and a flurry of skewers, such as halloumi encrusted with panko breadcrumbs to dip in a mojo rojo sauce, a speciality from the Canary Islands.

There’s a huge amount of choice for the larger dishes: such as a laksa or jerk roast cauliflower, miso grilled sea bass or côte de boeuf.

The soul burger is excellent, loaded with smoked cheddar, jerk quince mayo, ackee and callaloo, pink pickled onion and bacon.

To finish, we shared hot brioche donuts with a sticky milk jam.

This was a fun meal and well worth the trip. On your way out, be sure to stop off at another gem in The Brunswick Centre

Tian Tian Market is a chain of modern supermarkets, which aims to bring modern East Asian and South-east Asian culture to London.

It’s an eye-opening space – stuffed with specialities and rare ingredients. I took the bus home with fresh wonton noodles and a tub of Filipino ice cream.

Riding House Bloomsbury
The Brunswick Centre, WC1N

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