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|Address:||5 Charles Street, London W1J 5DF|
|Tel:||020 3641 8502|
|Price: £45.00||Wine: £18.95||Champagne: £48.95|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 7.30am-12M|
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Unusual name for a pub, The Only Running Footman, and it is fairly unusual in that it is not too unusual. Hopefully I can explain. The dining room is a gentrified upstairs room above a (presumably) historic little old boozer. So far, so Ten Bells and nothing particularly uncommon about that. Except there's no wacky wallpaper, no stag head motif, no waiters in retro pinnies etc. Instead the room is somewhat sober with blue/grey walls and linen-covered tablecloths; it verges on bland but lands with a light Mayfair tread on the side of genteel. The menu has the usual range of palate pleasers from risottos to salmon to chicken. But there's no heavy “back to British” agenda, no “re-inventing old classics for a modern audience” spiel, no “latest from far-flung lands” trickery. The cooking itself is delivered with confident aplomb. My salmon had a beautifully crispy skin and was perfectly complimented by a tomato salsa-y sauce. But no attempt was made to unseat the diner with wild combinations, with swirls of foams and purees, with unpronounceable ingredients. Service was polite, friendly, and efficient without being obsequious or overly casual. The atmosphere, well, was the same: remarkable in that there was no-one to remark upon. No braying yuppies, no screaming spoilt brats, no nauseating shoppers showing off the latest Bond Street purchases. Just “PLU”, just normal. The £80 bill for lunch for 2 included water, cokes, a glass of Riesling, mussels and bocconcini starters, chicken and salmon mains, and coffees; not exactly outrageous for such a satisfying meal, especially in this part of town. The Only Running Footman is probably best defined by what it isn't: it is not gimmicky or unusual. And in today's fad-ridden London that is rather unusual. Apparently the owners also run The Portman so hopefully The Only Running Footman isn't quite the one-off it appears to be.