London is full of surprises and the one that I have recently embraced with open arms is Eneko at One Aldwych, which opened in September 2016. When a restaurant is affiliated to (and named after) a chef with three Michelin Stars and whose debut restaurant is ranked number 16 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, you tend to have high expectations. What I found after three visits to Eneko is the consistency of intriguing dishes that elevates both the dining experience and one’s initial understanding of Basque cuisine.
When it comes to dishes like a tomato tartare with heritage tomatoes & avocado and the traditional talo studded with tomatoes, herbs and edible flowers it is evident that in addition to technique the quality of produce is key to the final dish. Both were one of my many highlights at Eneko; the tartare in particular tasted like the promise of spring and worked as a great palate opener.The two other dishes I continue to sing about to friends is the seared duck breast with a julienne of king oyster mushrooms and glazed ox cheeks over ham duxelle (an intense mushroom mixture) and complemented with a cauliflower pil pil. Duck is one of those dishes for me where it is either done well or terribly, there is no middle ground. The combination of sauces, mushroom and well executed duck breast may have been the dish that further piqued my interest in the restaurant but it was the fork tender ox cheeks on the set lunch menu that solidified Eneko as one of my favorite newcomers to London.
I also found Eneko at One Aldwych to be extremely reasonably priced. A 3-course set lunch and theatre menu is priced at £28 (which is what I ordered on my last visit and is my favorite experience so far) and nothing on the a la carte menu is over £18. I will note that the restaurant is housed in the basement of One Aldwych hotel but in the way the architecture and design is structured and depending on where your table is you don’t really get the sense of being submerged underground.
While the Basque chef Eneko Atxa is based in Bilbao he has two female chefs heading up the kitchen in London: Edurne Martín Delgado as head chef and Alice Serafini the pastry chef. It’s always a joy to see women continuing to make a mark in the London restaurant scene and with Sarafini’s desserts like sheep’s milk ice cream and her take at torrija, a vanilla sponge spiced with a hint of orange and cinnamon, paired with ice cream dotted caramelized breadcrumbs I can only imagine that this city will make even more room for up and coming female chefs.
Note: I was a guest at Eneko. All views are my own.