Not many London Restaurants have been around for as long as RSJ, it opened way back in 1980 and has been in The Good Food Guide since 1981 and not many London Restaurants are fully booked on wet Wednesday evenings either. I suspect RSJs longevity and success are based more on repeat business rather than as a potential pre/post theatre venue – it is a short walk from there to the IMAX and the Old and New Vic Theatres.
RSJ is a rare find, it feels like a “neighbourhood” Restaurant, but is actually in a back street near Waterloo Station. It is also one of the best places in London to sample Loire Valley wines (in fact they specialize in them and run regular wine tasting events – check out the Wine List).
The food is not cutting edge nor is it trying to be – it’s good quality perfectly cooked comfort food. The menu is not large (always a good sign in my view), there are a few a la carte dishes and a nice range of options in the reasonably priced set menu.
I choose from the set menu and started with the Whiskey cured mackerel with beetroot salad and orange dressing – a flavour combination that worked very well. I followed this with a tasty Confit shoulder of Lamb served with Mediterranean Cous Cous and a refreshing cucumber and mint yogurt – perfect, and for dessert I had a pretty large portion of Parkin (Yorkshire Gingerbread) with Liquorish ice cream. However the star of the show here is always the wines. We started with a bottle of La Taille aux Loups Montlouis Pétillant Triple Zero NV, a zero dosage wine – sweetened only with ripe grapes and followed this with a bottle of 2011 Sancerre ‘Les Pierris’ Domaine Roger Champault, a red wine that works well with Fish. Then for our main courses one of my dining companions ordered a bottle of 1997 St. Nicolas de Bourgueil Les Graviers, the delivery of which was rather entertaining – basically we were offered the very last bottle in the cellar complete with a badly damaged label. There was also a concern that the wine might not be ok – check out the pictures – the bottle looks ancient and full of character. The wine thankfully was perfect, and after that indulgence we finished with a bottle of Coteaux de L’Aubance Trie de Vendange Domaine Richou dessert wine before decanting ourselves into a Taxi.
RSJ is definitely the sort of place to take friends who appreciate good wines and one that I am always happy to return too. It is going to be around for a good few more years too I suspect.