Matters of Taste by Michael Buerk. Weekend Telegraph. Back to listing

At the weekend, TLO and I went to Rules, which is the oldest restaurant in London, and does not let you forget it. It was opened by thomas Rule just over 200 years ago. it specialises in game (“feathered and furred” from its own estate in the ‘high Pennines”), roast beef and the sort of puddings no one would ever call dessert. Edward V!! entertained Lillie langtry on the banquette upstairs, and literary london has grazed beneath its beams and Spy cartoons.

The service is friendly, professional, but given to flinging the food over the customers. I was at the Cunard Christmas party in a private room upstairs when the head waiter tipped a tray of seasonal dinners over the American chief executive who had jut bought the QE2. It was a tribute to him that he managed to maintain his dignity even though he had continually to interrupt his keynote speech to extract sprouts from his trousers. True to form, a large plate of dauphinoise potatoes was knocked over the charming American family at the next table. Wear old clothes if you go there.

Once that had been cleared up my meal was great. I was greedy with the Irish oysters and ordered a dozen, only to find them the size of pork chops; a silver tray of slurpy giants, much envied by TLO and tables around – only TLO got one, though. My pigeon with Puy lentils and foie gras was pink and gamey, and the exercise in wrestling it off its tiny bones was good for me.

TLO was less impressed by her starter of white Cornish crabmeat and coriander; she felt it a little bland without the dark meat, and the coriander did not introduce itself. She had fallow deer with bitter chocolate sauce that (fortuantely, in my view) did not taste of chocolate at all. She wished we had shared the 24oz Rib of Aberdeen Angus Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. Rules’ beef looked wonderful and you could sail to Egypt on the Yorkshire pudding.

My sauternes creme caramel with prunes and TLO’s raspberry syllabub trifle were both excellent, and filled any lingering gaps. With two glasses of house wine, a bottle of californian Chardonnay and coffee, the bill came to just over ¬£100, which is plenty to pay, but the place has real atmosphere and we did enjoy ourselves.

Perhaps the Moral Maze team should go there; the restaurant has a mural of Margaret Thatcher in full armour. David Starkey would think he had died and gone to heaven.