Match of the week | Venison cottage pie and a ‘lunchtime claret’

Match of the week

Venison cottage pie and a ‘lunchtime claret’

This week’s match is a blast from the past - a visit to the historic Rules restaurant in London’s Covent Garden where we tucked into the kind of food you’d have eaten 50 years ago - if not 100.

I hadn’t been for a long while but was inspired to book by a review in the Guardian by my colleague Marina O’Loughlin.

I was going to have steak and kidney pudding but saw this venison cottage pie being borne to another table adorned with an extravagant Elizabethan-style ruff and couldn’t resist it. It was richer than the usual beef version with shredded rather than minced meat and a wonderful golden topping that must have owed a good deal to butter and egg yolk.

The prices on the wine list are somewhat eye-watering (£15.95 for a glass of Joseph Perrier champagne!) so we made the wise decision to go with a carafe of Château le Pey cru bourgeois Médoc which they served in a rather splendid jug.

Coming from the excellent 2010 Bordeaux vintage it was deliciously ripe but still light and fragrant enough to be the perfect foil for the very rich pie - exactly the sort of wine that used to be referred to in the trade as a ‘lunchtime claret’.

The buffers at our next door table looked on approvingly (though were even more impressed by the Gin & It and White Lady we ordered to kick off our meal). Cocktails and claret are the way to go at Rules.

Oh, and Barsac which I can strongly recommend with a steamed syrup sponge. Yes, it was THAT kind of lunch . . .

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