For very practical reasons we moved to Ruislip four years ago. For the last two years we have been desperately trying to leave.
Ruislip is a rational choice if you work in West London (my wife does), use Heathrow a lot (yep) and your parents live in the West Midlands (mine) or North West (her’s). It’s also ideal if you like a grim suburbia that always makes you feel a bit sad and means your friends never visit no matter what you offer to cook. It’s a place of Wetherspoons curry nights, bad steaks in former pubs and tip runs on a Saturday.
At first glance the food options were fairly desperate too. Miller & Carter is treat meal if you enjoy the decadent manly idea of steak but not actually good steak itself.
Cafe Rouge are Cotes that have given up and let themselves go.
The tapas place was alright but the owner’s loathing for Ruislip came through the food. It was tapas which is perfectly acceptable if it comes with a beer in Madrid but adds up to a less than the sum of its parts when built into a full meal. It’s closed now.
Zaza is a sweet small chain of slightly fancy Italians across the far reaches of the Met Line. It’s a suburban birthday sort of place; empty Monday to Thursdays then booked months in advance on the weekend. The carbonara is genuinely delicious.
Our favourite place though is another, smaller family run Italian, Melissi. Just before it opened I went past and heard one of the family look at the new sign and say; “I can’t believe it’s happening”. I was on their side from the start.
The pizzas are sourdough and much better than Franca Manca. I lived in Brixton when Franca Manca first “popped” (as they probably don’t actually say in Brixton) and Melissi’s pizzas are simply superior
The pasta is also delicious. All cooked to order by the two chefs in the open kitchen. My favourite was the guanciale; salted pig jowl. The gnarly shards of pig fat were delicious in a tomato sauce with soft pasta. Alas no one else in Ruislip ordered it and I got a lovely apology from the owner when they’d taken it from the menu.
Beyond Melissi. Hop and Vine is a lovely little place for beer, gin and scratchings. If you get talking to the owners you have a great time. If you get stuck talking to Boring Bob the barfly you’ll hear about how he plans his work so his firm pays for his diesel to Watford away games.
Ora is also another family run place I really hope succeeds. It’s a brasserie infinitely better than Cafe Rouge, but sadly never as full. Boring Bob and his fellow Ruislipites don’t know a good thing when they’ve got one
And now we’re leaving, heading back to a proper London postcode, never to return.