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.
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.
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.
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.
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.