Posted on Saturday, 26th April 2014
The Only Running Footman is a wonderfully quaint pub/gastropub whose name pays homage to the footmen who were in service to the households of Mayfair in Georgian times. The role of the footman included such tasks as carrying lights after dusk, paying toll-keepers and generally paving the way for safe passage for his aristocratic master’s carriage. It was here at The Only Running Footman, known as The Running Horse during those times, where the footmen congregated for drinks after their duties.
The pub’s full name is actually ‘I Am The Only Running Footman’ and has been the venue for many a pub crawl, mystery tour, etc. Most notably it served as the inspiration for a novel of the same name by detective fiction writer Martha Grimes.
The ground floor acts as the pub proper with the first floor holding the dining room. It’s a small space, but it is nevertheless plush and cozy with its inviting leather banquettes. The look of The Only Running Footman is smart, and the food is equally smart and more refined than might be found at the average gastropub.
We started with a tian of fresh Cromer crab with avocado and melba toast (£11.50). There was a decent amount of crab meat which was deliciously sweet and fresh. The avocado purée worked as a nice accompaniment to the crab. It was beautifully smooth but we wanted for a slightly richer, deeper avocado flavour.
A parfait of foie gras, chicken livers and Armagnac with toasted brioche (£9.75) showed skill in its preparation. It was texturally wonderful due its refined creaminess, but it almost too creamy and needed a stronger element of foie gras and chicken livers for a bolder flavour.
Roast cannon of lamb (£23.50) was tender and nicely cooked to a medium rare and accompanied by some pert peas and sweet baby carrots, although the fava beans were slightly overdone. Pancetta enriched the flavour of the accompanying jus which was sweet and moreish, but a bit runny. It bordered on being a broth rather than just a jus.
An Asian marinated seared tuna (£17) special of the day served with couscous was well executed with a crispy sear and a medium rare core. The gingery overtones of the marinade was lovely, but the couscous was a little wet and a touch bland.
Desserts were excellent with a cappuccino crème brûlée accompanied by lemon shortbread (£6.50) giving way to a sublimely creamy texture. The cappuccino flavour was really gorgeous – distinctive and well judged – and the shortbread biscuits were crispy and buttery. A warm valrhona chocolate pudding with vanilla ice cream (£6.25) was also delightfully enjoyable with a rich chocolate flavour and a soft gooey centre.
Although not without a few hiccups, the food at The Only Running Footman was very enjoyable. The ingredients were fresh and the cooking was polished which resulted in dishes that were robust and tasty. The restaurant is lovely and smart, but rather quiet in terms of ambiance. The Only Running Footman would therefore serve those looking for an accomplished but unfussy and tranquil dining experience best. We found the service to be congenial and prompt.
Food rating: 3.75/5
Service rating: 3.5/5
Prices: £28 to £48 for three courses from the restaurant menu. Excludes drinks and service.