Eneko at One Aldwych

Chef Eneko Atxa is best known for his three Michelin star restaurant in the Basque Country, Azurmendi. He has a reputation for producing some of the most magical and skilled dishes in the world, so there was, understandably, a lot of excitement surrounding his new restaurant opening at London’s One Aldwych Hotel.

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One Aldwych has a prime position in the West End, surrounded by prestigious theatres with plenty of popular tourist sights nearby. I’ve always thought the hotel has a lovely balanced atmosphere… relaxed but smart, and this seems to be the same vibe as the new Eneko eatery. The setting is modern with sparse design furniture and cosy lighting. Upstairs, a bar provides a place for guests to enjoy an aperitif before they dine.

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The menu subtly hints at some of the ideas from Eneko’s flagship restaurant… and dishes like the Beetroot Tartare indicate a fine dining expertise merely through the immaculate presentation. Our meal began with delicious bread and whipped green chive butter.

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There are already a few dishes on the menu which seem to be Instagram hits… Memories of the Bay of Biscay is a theatrical presentation of seafood jewels, which arrives on a tray of mystical dry ice. While a favourite with foodies is the Txerri Boda Pork Festival, a wooden piggie box opens to reveal Chorizo on milk bread, glazed sweetbread and suckling pig tempura.

I found that a few of the dishes looked better than they tasted, and began to wonder if Eneko’s haute cuisine could successfully translate into a more casual dining concept. From the main courses, Hake in tempura with confit vegetables, red pepper sauce and parsley emulsion was a lovely plate of food. Perfectly flaky white fish in a light batter served on a bed of richly flavoured vegetables and sauce. Seared duck breast with julienne of king oyster mushrooms and pickled red onion was also tasty, a beautiful piece of meat with a complementing sweet relish and topped with pretty edible flowers. The mashed potato was a wonderfully indulgent side dish.

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Shortly after the savoury courses were cleared away… an attractive dessert trolley made its way across the room to us. The custom made vehicle featured pretty patisserie, each served with a dollop of traditional sheep’s milk ice-cream. The apple and caramel cakes satisfied the need for a sweet kick but became quite sickly after a few mouthfuls. Luckily the fresh and delicious ice-cream offered an almost savoury contrast, and was the perfect palate cleanser at the end of the meal.

More information and book a table at Eneko here.

Oskia Facial, One Aldwych Hotel

I have often visited the One Aldwych bar for delectable cocktails, but have never ventured elsewhere in this luxurious London hotel. Last week I was invited to try the new Oskia signature glow facial in the health club at the hotel. Scheduled in for Saturday lunchtime, it was the perfect weekend timeout after a busy week at work.

The spa was quiet and calm. After a glass of citrus infused water, I changed into the fluffy bathrobe and went to explore. It is rare to find a central hotel with a pool (chlorine free) and I full took advantage of this facility, exercising with a few revitalising lengths before my treatment. There is also a sauna and steam room for guests who wish to relax and warm the skin, ideal before a massage or facial.

I was delighted to learn that Oskia is a British brand. The range of beauty products is made with natural ingredients and works effectively to promote healthy and glowing skin. Oskia is fast becoming known as one of the UK’s leading beauty brands, and it is great to see a London spa supporting a company from this country, when most opt for Parisian or American skincare.

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The lovely Carleen took me through to the treatment room for my Oskia facial, 75 minutes of pure bliss. She quickly identified my skin as a mix of normal and combination and talked through my daily routine and use of products. Usually I am scolded for my lazy use of exfoliator or eye serums, but Carleen seemed to think I was doing a good job keeping my skin healthy. This facial is intended to illuminate the skin and boost radiance, but will be tailored to each guest, so the best results can be achieved. Carleen gently cleansed my face, used the brightening Micro Exfoliating Balm, and massaged my neck and face, which made me feel instantly at ease.

The facial involved a variety of Oskia products, each with its own purpose. After some deep cleansing and extraction, Carleen restored my skin with a soothing scented oil and added moisture around my eyes with the Eye Wonder gel. My favourite product was the Renaissance Mask, used towards the end of the treatment. This indulgent mask aims to awaken and add nutrients thereby brightening the skin and ensuring an even skin tone. While the mask soaked into my skin Carleen massaged my arms and feet, which was an extra treat. The facial finished with the Nutri-Active Day Cream, a great moisturiser for everyday use, lightweight and good for all skin types – it is ideal for use in the hot summer months.

After the treatment, feeling peaceful but famished, I was pleased to receive a delicious healthy snack from the chef at the hotel restaurant, Indigo. The filling but fat-free salad was made from

Quinoa with peas, broad beans and smoked almonds. It was very tasty with a spritz of lemon juice on top. If you feel like something a little more decadent you could choose a refreshing cocktail inspired by the nutritional ingredients in the Oskia products.

Near to the shops, theatres and restaurants of Covent Garden, One Aldwych is perfectly positioned. The heavenly Oskia facial would be a lovely addition to a girly day out in London.

More information on the Oskia treatments at One Aldwych here.

Bloom cocktails at One Aldwych

In the last week I have been invited to three gin events. The most memorable drinks were at One Aldwych Hotel where the nifty bartenders are creating deliciously summery Bloom cocktails. There is a select list of four special cocktails to try, each with a range of elaborate ingredients, but each using the Bloom Gin as a base.

Bloom Gin describe themselves as “a light, delicate and floral gin with a totally unique and slightly sweet taste created by a bespoke blend of 3 botanicals: honeysuckle, chamomile and pomelo.” The sweet notes of the spirit lends it well to cocktail concoctions, mixing beautifully with fruity flavours.

I’ve always loved the One Aldwych bar… it’s got a vibrant buzz about it, the environment is relaxed but fun, and the complimentary nuts they serve are among the best I’ve tasted. A warm breezy Friday evening was the perfect excuse to sample the four new Bloom cocktails:

The Lavender Cloud – Bloom Gin, rhubarb, black raspberry liqueur, honey infused with lavender and fresh lime juice. Topped with bergamot foam.

Blooming Tea – Bloom Gin, apricot brandy, ginger & lemongrass cordial, Kamm & Sons, camomile tea and fresh lemon juice.

Smoked Flower – Bloom Gin, Mezcal, grapefruit liqueur, elderflower cordial, agave nectar and fresh lemon juice.

Almond Bouquet – Bloom Gin, Amaretto liqueur, fresh pineapple juice, syrup, fresh rocket and fresh lemon juice.

I was surprised to find I really enjoyed all four drinks. Each recipe has it’s own character. The Lavender Cloud, served with a sprig of lavender, was almost perfumed in taste with a natural sweetness from the honey and a touch of exoticism from the bergamot. The Blooming Tea was perhaps my favourite, served in a impressively decorated glass and topped with pretty edible flowers. The ingredients are very well matched to create a grown up, but addictively tasty cocktail.

Smoked Flower was my least favourite, in comparison to the other drinks this cocktail is less girly with a strong smokiness to it and a touch of bitterness from the grapefruit. I also really loved the Almond Bouquet which reminded my of my Amaretto and coke teenage years. This cocktail is very sweet, but the nutty flavour softens the sugary taste and the citrus lemon cuts through as well. It is a lovely balanced drink.

The One Aldwych Bloom drinks are immaculately presented seasonal cocktails that I would be delighted to drink all year round.

The Bloom cocktails are priced at £13.50 each and are available in the Lobby Bar until 14th July. More information here.