For a city packed with restaurants of all shapes and sizes catering to all sorts of tastes, this title remains apparently undisputed with Rules in Covent Garden generally agreed to be London’s oldest restaurant.
Founded in 1798 by Thomas Rule, the restaurant has only been owned by three families – the Rules, the Bell family and that of the current owner, John Mayhew, who purchased the restaurant in 1984.
Those who have dined there include literary luminaries such as HG Wells, William Makepeace Thackeray, Charles Dickens, Graham Greene (it features in his novel, The End of the Affair – only one of a number of books in which the restaurant makes an appearance), John Le Carre, and poet John Betjeman, actors including Clark Gable, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman and Joan Collins, politicians including Michael Heseltine, John Prescott and William Hague, and even royalty – Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, was known to meet his mistress Lillie Langtry here.
Originally opened as an ‘oyster bar’, the restaurant at 35 Maiden Lane is these days known for its game dishes.
For more information, see www.rules.co.uk.