We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“A delightful lunch in London's oldest restaurant”
Review of Rules Restaurant

Rules Restaurant
Ranked #353 of 22,674 Restaurants in London
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $0 - $36
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Romantic
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Breakfast, Delivery, Reservations
Neighborhood: Covent Garden
Description: Established by Thomas Rule in 1798, Rules is a Covent Garden institution and the oldest restaurant in London. Tuxedoed waiters glide around the formal interior, decorated with antique sketches, where plush banquettes offer a discreet retreat from the main dining room. The whole-hearted menu of traditional British food specialises in classic game cookery, oysters, pies and puddings, featuring game birds, roe deer and Belted Galloway beef fresh from the establishment's own High Pennines estate. The wine list is a French-led affair, or there are native draught beers served in silver tankards.
Essex, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
64 reviews
40 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“A delightful lunch in London's oldest restaurant”
Reviewed December 6, 2012 via mobile

My first visit, a Christmas present from a friend, and what an experience! Superb British food in the form of potted shrimps, breast of pheasant and a golden syrup pudding, all beautifully presented and served by attentive and discreet waiters. The ambience of the dining room, enhanced by plentiful traditional Christmas decorations, was warm and welcoming.
A delightful lunch in the oldest restaurant in London.

2 Thank EssexColin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

3,344 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Greek first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Norwegian first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Turkish first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
169 reviews
90 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“Journalist and Client Lunch”
Reviewed December 4, 2012

The food was superb as always, the wine was excellent, the staff were brilllliant. For some reason my booking had been lost but no worries staff looked after us briliantly. Excellent restaurant for business lunches or special occasions. There is also a bar upstairs that not many people are aware of. it is a great oasis from the hussle and bussle of Covent Garden.

Visited September 2012
1 Thank Chris L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
240 reviews
179 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 196 helpful votes
“Lovely atmosphere, but not remotely disabled-friendly”
Reviewed December 3, 2012

4 friends for dinner.

I'll start with the bad stuff. One of our group has MS. He can walk a short distance with a stick, but struggles. We arrived at 19.20 for a 19.30 booking, and were told by front of house that our table was upstairs. We relayed our surprise, but negotiated the steep, double staircase - a real effort for the friend in question. Upstairs we entered the bar, said we had a table for 19.30, and were told "that's downstairs - they've only sent you up here for a drink". I have never encountered such a pathetic, unthinking, amateurish attitude to someone disabled in a serious restaurant. We sat down with 4 dry sherries - took one sip, then told our table was ready, so had to negotiate the staircase down again - 10 minutes after we had ascended. Another friend (who'd made the reservation) went ballistic, lost his temper, and justifiably so. Yes, we KNOW it's a very old building, and we KNOW it's difficult to make provision in such an environment, but there were seats downstairs and it would have been no big deal at all to have put us there for 10 minutes and sent up for drinks. Or taken us to to the table, even if it wasn't quite set. Rules needs to learn when to bend the rules.

I hope the management read these reviews, as this was utterly disgraceful behaviour.

Putting that aside, I've decided to be charitable and base the review on the rest of the experience. After this upset, the staff were on very best behaviour, and our waiter was superbly efficient and polite. The place was beautifully done out for Christmas (a little early), was cosy, smelled of pine, and we had a lovely banquette table. They are spaced out nicely, so you are not on top of other diners. Starters were nice - my potted shrimps a little flavourless and I would have preferred melba toast rather than bread. Smoked haddock soup proclaimed good. We went the "pub grub" route, 2 steak/kid pies, one s&k pudding, and a daube of venison, all of which were tender and sumptuous. We were advised 2 mash between 3 but they were such small portions, we ordered a third. Silky puree as it was, we commented that we actually had £13.50 worth of mash on the table. The extra portion took a long time to come.

Overall a great evening, with comfort food of the highest order, if very pricey. Ambience terrific - if only they would realise you cannot treat disabled people like that in the 21st century. Scores are disregarding "the incident".

  • Visited November 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank trevgti
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
“No Disabled Facility!! What's more they ran out of Mint Sauce at 3pm!!”
Reviewed December 2, 2012

This is my first comment on Trip Advisor about anything, and I know I am in a minority but this visit to Rules was the most enormous disappointment. Lovely table by the window, glorious Christmas decorations, and then a forty minute wait for our main course. No bread on the table, nor indeed was it offered. The service was indifferent and not at all welcoming, which is clearly intended to be the house style, and the waiter never once throughout the meal asked if things were ok. My lamb arrived and then I was told the mint sauce had just run out - at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon: yes, really!! My companion was asked if he wanted mustard for his steak - yes please - but it never arrived. When I asked where the disabled washroom was I was apologetically informed there isn't one! Surely this is not legal in 2012. I was told I could cross the road to the restaurant opposite, who have helped them out from time to time. This was absolutely unbelievable. I had to climb about two dozen steep stairs up to the first floor. So the feeling was very much come again or not; we don't really care. I do intend to ask the local Council about the legality of not offering a disabled facilty. I will never ever return, which is a shame as I did have such good memories of many previous visits there. My advice would be that there are many, many, many more acceptable venues with equally good food and better service.
It looks like Rules is content to exist on its former glory. A place, in my view, to be avoided.

Visited December 2012
Thank David L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
12 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“More than Dining!”
Reviewed November 30, 2012

Used to work in London, took lunch with colleagues from time-to-time, never disappointed by the outstanding English cooking, rarely went back to the desk! In town with a new American fiancee, so where better for a slightly early Thanksgiving Dinner. The trouble with Rules is the way that the superb food, excellent wine, intimate ambience and attentive but not intrusive service subtly cater to those of an addictive personality and a lack of willpower. The best Thanksgiving Dinner for a girl from Montana and one of the most memorable meals ever for a careworn Brit - probably the biggest bill for two for some years, but worth every penny and more. A venue for more than a meal - it is one of life's great experiences!

  • Visited November 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank JonT24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Rules Restaurant also viewed


Been to Rules Restaurant? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing