Not one, not two, but THREE Michelin-star chef Eneko Atxa has arrived in London at One Aldwych and he has brought his Basque style cuisine with him.
Although part of One Aldwych, Eneko is not your average hotel restaurant. Push past the huge doors and descend down into the all-white mezzanine level bar area where you’ll find the ideal pre-theatre pit-stop. Snack on THE best anchovies we’ve ever had, alongside a glass of wine from Eneko’s own vineyard. The house red is ultra-quaffable.
If you’re after something more substantial, descend another floor into the impressive basement. You would never realise you’re in a basement – it’s very cleverly designed with bright spotlights and cosy banquettes. Nab a good spot and you’ll also be able to see into the bustling kitchen and watch the chefs at work.
Starters are split into Sea, Land and Garden and the ‘Memories of the Bay of Biscay’ is quickly becoming their signature dish. Consisting of little pots of Oyster, crab and wild prawn tartare, it’s served on a theatrical metal shelf which then turns into a dry ice extravaganza.
One to order if you’re keen on a bit of drama at dinner – this is theatre land after all. We opted for the slightly more subdued grilled langoustine in bacon sauce – delicious but dainty and priced at £14 maybe one to expense.
We loved the odd wooden box that the ‘Pork Festival’ was presented in – where did they find this?? We need to know! Containing a trio of pork delights – chorizo on milk bread, glazed sweetbread and suckling pig tempura – the wooden pig head silently watches you as you tuck into its piggy innards. Wonderful!
Onto the mains – we really enjoyed the roasted Iberico presa. If you normally go for steak, you’ll find this a great alternative, and altogether more in keeping with the Spanish meets London cuisine, it was served on a little pile of buckwheat with a creamy garlic sauce and edible flowers. You might want to consider getting a side if you’re starving (we weren’t, having stuffed ourselves with bread and whipped herby butter). If you’re really after something authentic try the Cod Tripe. Personally we found it way too rich to finish but it’s certainly an interesting one to try if you want a flavour of the Basque Country.
Forget dessert trolleys – at Eneko there is a whole dessert display on numerous shelves. We seriously struggled to choose just one but at £7 a pop you could probably justify ordering one for you and one ‘for the table’ (is it just us that does that??) The cappuccino cheesecake cups (complete with edible chocolate spoon) were bloody delicious. All come with traditional creamy Basque ice cream. The vanilla sponge can, and should, be ordered separately.
Set in the heart of Covent Garden, we’d recommend using the bar as a pre or post theatre pit stop while the main dining room is best suited to expense accounts.