Saturday 26th March, 2017 – The Lobby Bar and Eneko, One Aldwych, London
A post-theatre dinner here was on the cards after much enthusiasm in certain press quarters about the food at Eneko, somewhere on the premises of One Aldwych. It helped that the cuisine in question is meant to be Basque and as a fan of all things Basque we reckoned it would be a good idea. We stopped off initially at the Lobby Bar because we were far too early for dinner, and enjoyed a couple of their rather more exotic offerings. These included the Open Sesame, which was colourful as well as tasty:
There was also the For Love, which was not only delicious but also amusingly delivered, complete with a smoking concoction to add to the glass and complete the drink! I like a little drama with my drinks.
A second round brought a more traditional whisky sour for me:
Lynne’s Gardener’s Infusion was another piece of theatre in the mixologist’s repertoire and was very much enjoyed.
After that we struggled slightly to locate the entrance to Eneko, where chef Eneko Atxa would hopefully provide an impressively tasty dinner.
The space is modern and rather dour, but at least the tables are not too close together. We did get into conversation with the diner on the next table, a very friendly American woman who was clearly a regular, but that was by choice.
A quince bellini by way of an aperitif was a good start to the evening, and we settled in to peruse the menu.
Bread and a nicely judged herb-whipped butter was soon delivered and we tucked in while we considered our options.
For starters we ordered what would turn out to be the highlight of the meal, the Memories of the Bay of Biscay, with oysters, crab, prawn tartare and caviare, served on a tray with dry ice underneath to create the image of a rock pool.
It was theatrical and tasty, and we had it alongside the glossily beautiful duck liver parfait with Txakoli apple, a rich, deep hit of meat that contrasted superbly with the seafood.
Mains were also good, though more pedestrian, and it would have perhaps helped if the waiting staff had made it clear that when you ordered a specific meat that was to a large extent all you’d get. It was one of those rare occasions when ordering sides would have been a good idea. Of course by the time we discovered that, it was too late, at least unless we wanted to eat our main courses cold. Which we didn’t.
On the upside, the seared duck breast was another stunning-looking dish, and it again delivered on flavour too, nicely accompanied by a julienne of king oyster mushrooms, and some pickled red onion. It was all very pretty, and good to eat.
The slow-cooked oxtail with a mushroom emulsion was pretty good too, shredded and decorated with flowers. It could however haven been a shade bigger, given the price (£15.00, the duck was £19.00).
None of the desserts particularly appealed, so we asked whether some cheese could be found. After some to-ing and fro-ing it was agreed that yes, this was possible, and a platter of cheeses was duly delivered.
I suspect they may have had to nip next door to the other restaurant in the hotel to get it, but hey! They made us happy customers…
We left happy enough if somewhat lighter in pocket. I’d certainly consider going back again, though I’d maybe order rather more carefully, possible opting for the tasting menu, or just selecting from the starters.