Food fit only for pissheads
I usually see a slight dip in the number of visitors to my website over the weekend largely due, I suspect, to most of you getting hammered to blot out the horrors of the preceding five days. Those memories of the working week aren’t going to obliterate themselves, after all. Most pubs tend to be surrounded by cheap takeaways catering to the sozzled and the weak-willed, but The Royal George in Soho tries to keep those high-functioning alcohol abusers from spending their money elsewhere. It has its own in-house kitchen serving up stereotypically American dishes well into the night.
Branded as Ruby Jean’s Diner, all the branches of these seemingly independent American ‘diners’ are actually owned by Mitchells and Butlers – the same sprawling multi-brand pubco that owns all the pubs in which all Ruby Jean’s branches are located. This carefully obfuscated fact raised alarm bells, but I was nonetheless determined to eat at Ruby Jean’s at least once.
Of all the drunks I know, few are more civilised than Templeton Peck, none get more snappy and bitter than Snaggletooth and almost none get more smiley, fuzzy and randy than Youngling. The latter managed to keep his meat tucked away long enough to share some fried chicken with me. The lightly crisp batter wasn’t too greasy, but was also rather forgettable while the chicken itself was a touch too dry. The accompanying coleslaw wasn’t anything to write home about either.
I expected big things from the burger, if only because of the intense burger competition nearby. I opted for a plain classic burger, but if the smoothly ground patty ever had any character to begin with then it had been obliterated by being cooked well-done. Disappointing.
The battered exterior of the onion rings was crisp, but also a little too oily. Far more disappointing were the onions inside the batter – some were stuffed with a bitty, unrecognisable filling while others did have a whole ring, but were almost all uniformly bland, limp and overcooked. Far better, surprisingly, were the double-cooked chips accompanying both the burger and the fried chicken. These were thick, proper chips rather than fries – crisp, lightly seasoned and cut from whole slices of potato rather than bitty reprocessed mulch.
The ‘smoked’ ‘barbecue’ chicken wings are available in portions of four, six, eight or 20. Goaded by my pisshead dining companions, I naturally ordered a whole plate of 20. While Snaggletooth was off ranting about the state of his underwear, both Templeton Peck and I agreed that the wings were exceptionally bland. Snaggletooth suppressed the urge to vomit just long enough to order a helping of ‘hot and kicking Sriracha’ wings which somehow managed to be even blander. That’s nothing if not an achievement.
The four of us briefly considered dessert, but decided to cut our losses. Even Snaggletooth wasn’t drunk enough to order pudding after all that disappointing meat and carbs.
I often get a fair amount of abuse for reviewing dreary pub food – the derision is usually along the lines of ‘you should know better, what did you expect’. That may be so, but most people won’t have a clue and that’s who I write for – the above-average punter who wants better but doesn’t know where to get it, not bottom-feeding trolls who can’t spell and have the emotional intelligence of a sponge.
Unless you’ve completely annihilated your intellectual, navigational and transportation faculties for the night with alcohol, Ruby Jean’s at The Royal George just isn’t worth bothering with. Any of the burger places in Soho or a hearty grill from 21 Bateman Street will be far less insulting to your taste buds than this industrial pubco spittle.
What to order: The chips
What to avoid: Almost everything else
Name: Ruby Jean’s Diner at The Royal George
Branch tried: 133 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0EA
Phone: 0207 734 8837
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday noon-22.00 and Sunday noon-21.00.
Total cost for one person when shared between four excluding drinks: £15 approx.