We went to the Riding House Cafe for Joff’s birthday at the end of June, we live near the Garrison and Village east, both owned by the same people and were curious to try their new venture. The Garrison is beautifully styled to appeal to the fashionable media, faux boho type but the food often doesn’t live up to the atmosphere, nevertheless we keep going back as it is close by and lovely to sit in with fairly enthusiastic service. Village East is not quite as achingly stylish but the food is better, even though sometimes it is a little bit pre clubby for someone of my advanced years.
The Riding House cafe seems to have corrected both errors. It is absolutely gorgeous, in a kind of purposely scuffed and mismatched way, even the Dyson air blades has distressed metal coverings. The chairs were pale green leather and very comfy and the service perky from the start. There is a bar area with stools so you can eat while you perch and a lounge area with sofas and armcharis as well as private rooms available. The whole set up is to encourage you to drop in whenever you like, it is open from 8 or 9 am until 11pm, and is part of the now fashionable all day menu, small plates brigade. However if choosing form a large menu of small plates makes you anxious they still have main courses and puddings and a small plate serves as a starter.
As soon as we arrived I knew it was all going to be alright, no anxious waiting to be served moments or sitting too close to rowdy guests. There are good vegetarian
choices, including a delicious, hot artichoke dip with home made crostini. I had the tomato tart which is enough to make a vegetarian nervous as it often turns out to be incredibly dull. I needn’t have worried, ‘heritage’ tomatoes sat on top of some fantastic mozzarella and puff pastry. Joff has chickpea cake and halloumi which I didn’t get a chance to taste as he ate it so quickly. Owen had the seared sea trout with crab and leek salad which I didn’t taste needless to say but it looked very pretty and he enjoyed eating it. We had starters, or small plates, main courses, sides and puddings as well as 3 glasses of Prosecco and 3 individual glasses of wine and the whole lot came to about £30 each which I think is not bad value for good food in stylish surroundings. Oh, and they also do that 2 or 3 chocolate truffles for £2 thing which I love if you crave chocolate but don’t want a huge pudding.