Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Roux at Parliament Square - Review

This is the new restaurant by Michel Roux Jr., who doesn't currently have a resident chef - Dan Cox left after a few weeks in the job.

Reviews in the papers have been mixed, but all agreed that the decor was really boring and "a sea of beige". I disagree! It is muted, yes, but the main effect is really comfortable in a classy way - nice. Not too much actual beige.

Pretty aperitif nibbles were followed swiftly by delightful amuse bouches of velvety baby carrot soup, and then starters. All a little too speedy and lots of flouncy table-waiting. Even the smallest of items seemed to require one waiter to hold a silver tray, while two others fussed around the table.

The Albert Roux (Lenoble) Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc champagne (£12 a glass) was excellent, with loads of flavour. It was so good, I'm going to buy some online.

My butter-poached langoustines were most enjoyable, but there were errors; not particularly buttery and one of my crustaceans wasn't cooked through - lucky I like raw seafood. The summer truffle accompanying the langoustines was thankfully boosted by some mushroom purée. I was looking forward at last to experiencing the elusive flavour of summer truffle, but I didn't. That's the last straw - I won't expect flavour from summer truffle ever again. I wish that restaurateurs would always use Italian white truffles or Périgord black truffles in winter, and truffle oil - even just nature-identical - for summer dishes. At least the fake oil tastes of something!

The veal main course was really outstanding. It would not be possible to find meat that was more tender and juicy. Everything - the fillet, summer vegetables and sweetbread - was perfectly cooked, and the smoked pomme mousseline was delectable and matched the rest of the dish perfectly. Great to be able to taste the smokiness, and the creamy potato was laden with butter but still light and delicate.

The pre-dessert was a lovely fruity concoction, but a bit unnecessary. It was unfortunately more enjoyable than my main dessert. The peach soufflé looked magnificent and was beautifully light, but it was far too sweet, and tasted of egg. I couldn't taste much peach other than from the few tiny cubes of peach at the bottom. The overwhelming sweetness was enhanced by crispy caramel bits, while my poor taste buds were screaming for some tangy peach coulis (or a cup of tea) to rescue them, but to no avail.

I even ate a petit four - dark chocolate flaked with gold, around a lovely strawberry 'crunchie' - to dull the sweetness, and it did help slightly!

The meal at Roux was certainly special. Critics have said it is well overpriced (£55 for three courses), but I'm not so sure - the ingredients and attention to detail were top-notch, and if there had been no mistakes, it would not have been overpriced. Maybe I caught them on an off-day? It is true, though, that for that price, there shouldn't ever be mistakes.

I'd have been happier with a less fussy service and no culinary errors, but the experience was generally very worthwhile.

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