With websites like Yelp and television networks dedicated exclusively to food, today’s foodie need not look far for advice on what and where to eat next. But before Zagat and the Michelin star, there was Ralph Rylance (1782–1834) and The Epicure’s Almanack, or Guide to Good Living, his listing of more than 650 eating establishments, taverns, inns, and hotels in and around London in the early nineteenth century. Working single-handedly and on foot, Roylance investigated and reported on a broad range of restaurants, from haughty chophouses and suburban tea gardens to humble tripe shops and dockyard taverns, as well as London’s first Indian restaurant. He also gives an account of London’s markets, featuring an inventory of merchants selling everything from anchovy sauce to kitchen ranges.
Published in 1815, The Epicure’s Almanack was never updated or reprinted and was never truly emulated until 1968, when the Good Food Guide to London was first issued. Reproduced here with an introduction by Janet Ing Freeman, and accompanied by extensive notes, indexes, and many details from a contemporary map of London, this extraordinary edition vividly brings back to life the tastes, smells, and culture of Regency England and is a must-read for lovers of London and food alike.