The Riding House Café, Fitzrovia
43-51 Great Titchfield Street
by Emmanuel Petit-Déjeuner
At the risk of indelicacy, it’s the loos that get you.
To clarify, there is little to cavil about at The Riding House Café; it’s all pretty darned perfect. But apart from the bounteous menu, the perfectly-pitched service and the décor that scratches all those Living Etc taxidermy itches you never knew you had, one particular detail of the gents’ cloakroom had me rummaging gingerly in my knife-drawer of superlatives. Get this… they have actually gone to the trouble of buying (or –dream it! – commissioning) an elegantly shot-blasted metal cover for their Dyson Airblade, so it chameleons itself snugly within the overall industrial luxe look. Even if the jet-engine decibel levels shock you, the visuals won’t.
Returning à la carte, it’s hit after palpable hit. The basics – pâtisserie, bacon sandwiches, coffees and more teas than you could shake a liquorice stick at, smoothies, porridge and mueslis “both bar and bat” – are impeccably sourced and punchy in their variety. As for the platform-agnostic eggs, Benedict routinely and silkily impresses, as does Hussard (a confection I had not encountered before, but which I’d urge upon anyone keen to start their day sated and with the phrase sauce bordelaise dancing sluttily across their lips). And venerable Omelette Arnold Bennett is as mouth-wateringly other as you would hope… like Gary Rhodes or ketamine, it shouldn’t work but it does.
But the abiding sense-memory for me is the PB&J. A potentially unholy miasma of peanut butter, banana, strawberry and apple juice, it comes in a milk bottle with a straw and at first smells unnervingly like fresh boak. Until you ask your delightful waiter –played here by the French stunt double of novelty Rastafarian showjumping fail Oliver Skeete – to lose the apple, and you’re left with a pint of ambrosia. Not that.
All you need to know about the ethos of the place was summed up when I first lunched there – charming waitperson #348 sauntered over and asked if we would like the ‘concept’ explained. We nervously said yes. He replied, “There isn’t one really – order some lunch, it’s all great.”