Wednesday 17th May, 2017 – Riesling Wine Dinner, Roux at Parliament Square
It’s marginally easier to get a table at Roux at Parliament Square than it is at parent-restaurant Le Gavroche (which is to say we’ve been to Parliament Square twice now and I’ve only ever managed to get a table at Le Gavroche once, and it’s not for want of trying, believe me). In this instance an email landed in my inbox advertising a Riesling Wines dinner, for a fixed price, with wines from the sublime S. A Prum vineyards, which in itself would make me want to get there.
The fact that it meant we got a second go at Steve Groves‘ superb food didn’t hurt either! And as a third sweetener we were promised that Michel Roux Jr, a big fan of Rieslings, would also be in attendance, though not in the kitchen. Tickets booked we met up on the night at the nearby Conrad Hotel on St. James, in the Blue Boar Bar, a stone’s throw from Parliament (and of late I would like to throw stones at the shower that constitutes our current government – but I digress). The bar is apparently much frequented by MPs, and even has a division bell so they can be summoned back when they need to vote. The walls are also festooned with some very fine political cartoons, including several Gerald Scarfes. It was a filthy night when we arrived so instead of walking all the way, I bailed out and arrived by taxi, dripping wet, and had to retreat to the Ladies Room (as I’m sure the hotel would call it) to attempt to dry off.
Thereafter we treated ourselves to some wonderfully old-fashioned cocktails, with Lynne opting for a Champagne cocktail:
I ordered The One, which was apparently made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, vanilla liqueur, a sugar cube, bitters and very good it was too.
The staff were charming if slightly under-manned, and I did like the way that as Lynne was absent from the table they waited until she’d come back to add the sugar cube to her cocktail so she wouldn’t miss the fizzing that it causes.
It was time to move on to the restaurant, and thankfully it had stopped raining, which made the short walk a pleasant experience, though I was still dripping somewhat. After thawing out under the hand dryers, because it was now remarkably cold outside, we were shepherded upstairs and plied with Champagne (the one wine that did not come from S.A. Prum – a J de Telmont, Grand Blanc de Blancs 2009) and canapés which were tiny, intricate, delicious but not explained by any of the waiting staff, probably due to lack of time.
We were then welcomed by Michel and Raimund Prum, the current owner of the vineyard (and also the wine-maker), who talked us through the wines we would be trying.
The first course arrived, a delicately seared tuna, with a soy dressing, sesame seeds, and some accompanying kohlrabi, streaked through with radish slices. It was fresh and delicious, an ideal Summer dish (so it was a bit of a shame that it was not at all summery outside).
With it we drank a lovely “half dry” ‘Sebastian A’ Kabinett 2015. Dinner was off to a flying start.
Next up was a tartelette of smoked duck breast, with peas, and lemon. This was a vibrant green pea puree over smoked duck slices, the flavour of the peas coming through beautifully, off-set by the dense smoke flavour of the duck, with a short pastry base that was crisp and perfect. It was, bar none, the best pea dish I’ve ever eaten, and it also looked glorious.
The main dish came next, a chunk of delightfully rich venison, with lovely soft and sweet chunks of beetroot, and landcress. The meat was simply cooked (no sous vide, thank you very much, according to Michel, just good old fashioned heat). I’m not saying sous vide doesn’t have a place in modern kitchens, and in fact am quite keen to get a machine myself, but it wasn’t needed here. The venison was the perfect level of rare (for me anyway – a woman sitting with us wanted hers well done, but then, she also didn’t like the wines, which made me wonder why she was there, taking up a £170 ticket).
The green theme also continued with some broccoli, and a landcress puree, and the sauce was a perfect combination of stickiness and depth. Much the same could be said for the wine, another from Wehlen, this time a Wehlener Sonnenuhr ‘Alte Reben’, Großes Gewächs 2014, which is apparently not available anywhere right now (though I suspect a visit to the producer might prove fruitful).
Next up was the cheese course, with a select of Comté, Fourme d’Ambert, and Selles-Sur-Chez, the latter not a cheese I actually know. They were good and had clearly been perfectly kept, not always the case in the UK. The fruit bread with it was crisp and not too sweet and there was a lovely little blob of quince paste, which was perfect, particularly with the blue.
Finally we were served a dessert, consisting of a slice of ripe, sweet alphonso mango, sharp pineapple, and the acidity of lime, all set off with mint running through it.
And of course we had a spectacular dessert wine to go with it, a Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Faß 12 1999. It was glorious, with that Riesling “petrol” smell and a sweetness that also has an edge of sharpness underlying it. I could drink this with every dessert I ever eat I think (though I may not want to try it with chocolate) and I loved the rich complexity of it.
Herr Prum did the rounds again, and handed out cards. I mentioned we will be touring the Mosel in late September and was told to get in touch in advance to organise a visit.
The restaurant brigade then came out to accept a round of applause, and Lynne and I realised we needed to leave if we were to get home sensibly (there was a train at around 23:30) so we made our excuses, thanked Michel, and left before the coffee and petit fours, which I am sure would also have been spectacular. It was a lovely evening and a memorable meal, and as for the wines, they were superb. We could not have asked for better.
By the way, the wines were apparently supplied by Delibo Ltd. in case anyone in the UK wants to look for them.