Last Updated on April 19, 2017
A Basque in London – Eneko at One Aldwych:
One of my favourite London hotels, One Aldwych manages to combine grandeur with boutique hotel charm. In addition to the much loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory afternoon tea, their two restaurants have always been a good option for meeting friends for a meal. I’ve never eaten badly at One Aldwych, though the old downstairs restaurant was more functional than exceptional. All that is set to change with the newly opened Eneko, a restaurant with a Basque pedigree from Eneko Atxa , the chef at Azurmendi, a three Michelin-starred restaurant in Bilbao.
I learnt about the proposed transformation almost a year ago now and I’ve been watching and waiting for the place to open. Having recently visited the Basque for a food trip, I was particularly keen to try it out.
Eneko has a lighter and more contemporary feel than its predecessor, with an open kitchen at one end. There’s a wine bar upstairs which might be good for pre-theatre drinks and a rather stunning dessert trolley.
We enjoyed a glass of champagne with one or two helpings from the basket hosting from mixed seeds, temptation at this time coming in the form of some butter creamed at the table with fresh basil to create a delicious topping.
It was hard to pick dishes from the menu, but ‘Memories of the Bay of Biscay’ is a signature dish of the restaurant and turned out to be something of a show stopper with dry ice scented with seaweed .
For me it was look, don’t eat – but I was more than happy with my own choice of Mushroom and Cauliflower, which I’d picked deliberately having tried something similar in Bilbao. A warm layered and half set cream of cauliflower and mushroom foam was enriched with what I suspect was a slow cooked egg yolk. Wonderful autumnal comfort food
This version was delicious, just a little lighter than the Pincho I’d enjoyed a few months earlier.
Basque style hake came enrobed in a light tempura batter with confit vegetables and a deliciously sticky red pepper sauce. Flawlessly cooked, the batter shell did an excellent job of keeping the hake moist while allowing it to be cooked to a flaky perfection. The whole dish was a lovely combination of textures and flavours.
Seared duck breast with a julienne of king oyster mushrooms and pickled red onion was served rare. So tender you could have cut the meat with a spoon, this was a pretty presentation with edible flowers.
It’s worth noting the wine list, which is predominantly Spanish and includes four wines from Eneko Atxa’s family winery. Our wines were matched by the glass for us, a solution which I recommend for this kind of dining where the wrong wine can ruin a delicately constructed dish.
Both desserts were stunning, chocolate feasts, served with a spoonful of traditional Basque sheep’s milk ice cream.
Dark chocolate with a crumble biscuit base was a rich mousse with a deep chocolate shell. Definitely one for a chocolate lover.
Soft meringue, chestnut cream, port and chocolate was a slightly lighter, chestnutty mixture which perhaps didn’t need the ice cream, though, it should be tried!
All in, we both loved our meal at Eneko and for me, at least, it is on my list to revisit for a special occasion. Starters are priced from £9 to £14 and mains from £14 to £17 while the wine list offers a good choice of options by the glass starting at £9
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One Aldwych Hotel,
1 Aldwych, London,
Disclosure: I dined as a guest of Eneko