I have heard so many interesting things about the Basque part of Northern Spain, especially the metropolitan area of Bilbao. The celebrated cuisine is one I have always wanted to try. The bright colours, the unique and divine flavours, bringing a new meaning to Spanish cuisine. It was only a matter of time before London’s diverse restaurant scene would serve up the Basque delights without having to travel across to Northern Spain.
Eneko graced us with a taste of fine basque cuisine dining with his inventive interpretation, along with this passion for the cuisine and precise execution. There was no better place for Eneko to have his new restaurant other than in the amazing boutique hotel, One Aldwych.
On arrival, we were greeted by the man himself, with great glee. It was an honour to be graced by the presence of such a talented 3 Michelin starred culinary chef and have him cook for us that evening. A real treat, I must say.
We started with a passionfruit amuse bouche, that had a cocoa butter shell with small edible flowers on top. It was presented in a beautiful way, as a part of a tree. I had something quite similar to this, in terms of presentation in Sheraton Lisboa.
As we were so torn on what to choose, we left ourselves in Eneko’s hands and he picked some of his best and most loved dishes for us.
We started our meal with a lemon juice and cava cocktail to accompany our meal, instead of wine. Its crisp tartness was enough to wake us up after a busy day.
We were brought out three different starters. However, as most of the dishes are served as small plates, it’s can work as a part of the main meal too.
The first dish was a colourful, traditional Talo. Essentially, it is baked crispy corn talo (a bit like a tortilla) with freshly chopped heritage tomatoes, served with pea puree and was garnished with basil and edible flowers. The dish itself was extremely flavoursome and the tomatoes had a nice sweetness to them. It was probably one of my favourite of the starter dishes.
The next dish that came out was the avocado tempura, which was served with a spicy basque red pepper sauce and basil emulsion. I’m a huge lover of vegetable tempura, but I have never had it with avocado. The batter itself was light and not overly greasy with soft, ripe avocado inside. It was good, but i’m not sure I would order it again.
The final starter was called ‘Cauliflower in textures’ which was essentially cauliflower served in four different ways, including the cauliflower pearls and dried crisp cauliflower. The dish was particularly creamy and a nice way to end the first stage of our meal.
For the first main, we were served succulent seared duck breast, that had a crispy skin outer layer. The duck was served with Julienne of king oyster mushrooms and pickled red onions. Even though we asked for it well done, the meat itself was incredibly tender and very enjoyable. The duck was served with a side of tender stem broccoli that was dressed in a roasted red pepper sauce and garnished with nuts.
The second main was wheat stew that’s served with shaved truffle and egg yolk. When the egg yolk was cracked open, the sunny goodness ran over the wheat, which was then mixed together getting infused flavour from the truffle too. Small slices of baked bread were served to scoop up the yummy stew. The dish itself was quite light but rich, with a sticky consistency. The small portion was ideal, as you could not eat too much of it.
Moving onto our last course, the desserts. Binny and I both picked very different desserts, she chose the salted caramel mousse with cookie crumble and sheep’s milk ice-cream.
I on the other hand went for a more theatrical dessert, the rose marshmallow.
The salted caramel mousse was quite simple yet totally satisfying, especially after an indulgent meal it was nice to have something classic. However, the rose marshmallow was my favourite. A light dessert that was made out of a airy set egg white meringue, topped with sliced strawberries and strawberry sorbet – totally refreshing and different.
Overall, a fantastic meal. The service was particularly good and we were well looked after. Eneko put together some fantastic, flavoursome dishes for us that night, leaving us very full and content. Basque cuisine is something everyone needs to try, it truly unique and there is simply no better place to do it than under the roof of One Aldwych.
Until next time…