On Charles Street then, just off Berkeley Square, is The Only Running Footman, named after the practice of having your man servant run alongside your carriage, a common practice undoubtedly for the residents of the area (until about 1810 when the practice, like so many of the footmen, fell by the wayside). The modern incarnation of this public house however seeks as much to woo the new masters of Berkeley Square, namely the hedge fund managers who spend their every waking hour just around the corner, as much as their man servants, resulting in an 'upstairs/downstairs' approach.
That The Only Running Man has a tab on its website entitled 'Sports' with a 'Watch it here LIVE' strapline (their bold) doesn't instantly scream great gastro pub, let alone fine dining but today, I'm with a friend, ex one half of the critical couple, and gastro pub is what we want but we haven't booked in advance. In the vicinity is the Guinea Grill, famous for its pies, which means that even on a Tuesday in October it is likely too full to accept walk-ins. And round the corner is The Punch Bowl (not yet blogged) which, since it was bought by Guy Ritchie, has replaced crusty regulars with an altogether trendier set also meaning it's impossible to just walk in and get a table (on one occasion I couldn't even walk in and get a pint of beer, it's that kind of pub). Our choice then is easily made.
Seated upstairs in The Only Running Footman, with the restaurant about 70% full, of our 12 fellow guests that lunchtime, 11 were men and all wore a shirt with a collar; I guess we're the only ones not expensing the bill. Service got better through the meal though was a little cold at first, not something that could be said about my starter, Pumpkin & Sage Soup, that I had to let rest for a few minutes for risk of burning my mouth. A skin was also forming on top when it arrived. Bread rolls that were offered ahead of starters were beginning to go hard, this was a late lunch and one got the sense they had been sitting around for a while though to be fair, the soup itself was good; when it finally cooled, it had good texture and decent taste. My friend judged his Crispy Duck Salad, Watercress, Spring Onion, Radish & Plum Sauce to be excellent, with a decent crisp to the duck and a decent kick to the dressing.
My main, Braised Neck of Lamb Fillet, Pearl Barley Risotto and Rosemary Jus was actually very good, by far the best dish of the day with a nicely cooked piece of lamb and a fantastically rich jus that would have made me happy in a restaurant of any calibre. I really liked this dish on flavour and would happily return there to eat it again (and again). In many ways, it was a prefect expression of what a good gastro pub should serve.
Return to homepage