On our very first visit to Roux at Parliament Square we decided to take advantage of the tempting three course set lunch menu priced at £25. In a nutshell, for us, the menu was too simple and the food was bland and unexciting. I had a particular problem with my dessert which looked like what I can only describe as a cat poo on a plate.
To make up for our disappointing experience, we were kindly invited back for lunch and instead we ordered from the a la carte menu.
Given it’s location (the clue is in the name) Roux at Parliament Square was inevitably going to be filled with suits and ties – and it was – but my gentleman companion and I weren’t deterred and arrived in our chinos and untucked shirts. We were seated in the first of two dining rooms right by the window, avoiding a few less desirable tables by the entrance to the kitchen.
An amuse bouche of tomato jelly and fresh tomatoes topped with basil was a zingy and refreshing start to our lunch.
My starter was ravioli of Cornish crab, etuvee (braised) of leek, Avruga and champagne veloute (£14). This dish gave me a mouthful of seafood heaven. The pasta was thin and full to bursting with white crab meat. The black Avruga pearls with the foamy and creamy yet light champagne veloute had the perfect balance with the crab. Avruga is a caviar substitute which doesn’t contain fish roe. It’s coloured with squid ink to give it the black appearance and to be honest, I couldn’t tell it wasn’t the real deal.
My gentleman companion opted for the ballotine of Lincolnshire pork with mustard emulsion, pickled onions and smoked hock beignet (£10). The vibrant food looked like a piece of modern art. The textures and flavours were spot on – crunchy crackling, rich meaty deep fried hock, peppery creamy mustard and tangy onions all on a bed of perfectly made ballotine. Lovely.
My main course of assiette (assortment) of new season spring lamb, stuffed courgette flower and black garlic puree (£28) was one of the tastiest dishes I have ever eaten. It was my meat loving heaven – everywhere I looked I could see perfectly cooked lamb – even the courgette flower was stuffed with leg meat. A little strip of lamb bacon sat on top and was crispy, fatty and to die for. The peas were crunchy and the perfect contrast to the soft courgettes. It left me feeling delightfully satisfied.
My gentleman companion’s slow roasted rump of Lake District beef, brown butter pink fir potatoes, grilled shitake mushrooms, crispy onions and roast beef sauce was another meat heavy delight – there was six slices of beef! This food was not only delicious and attractive but the portion sizes were hearty – something you don’t often get with such refined cooking.
Desserts were mammoth and every bit as delightful as what we’d previously devoured. Manjari chocolate cremosa, peanut and sea salt caramel parfait and caramelised banana was divine. Each individual component was set out like a woodland trail across the plate and I started at one end and didn’t stop till I finished at the other. By the end I was absolutely stuffed, but I felt like the pain in my gut was worth it as the food was so good.
As our waiter brought out the Yorkshire rhubarb souffle, oat crumble, rhubarb and blood orange compote and custard ice cream, the lady on the table next to us let out a yelp of excitement. It looked seriously impressive and my gentleman companion and I nearly gave it a standing ovation. Luckily it tasted every bit as good as it looked – light, airy and packed with rhubarb flavour. It was a clever take on a rhubarb crumble and it worked really well – the oats and compote gave the souffle texture – which turned a fairly bog standard dessert into something much more inventive.
Some chocolate macaroons followed this feast and as we found with the macaroons at Le Gavroche (also owned by Roux) they lacked a plump homemade appearance – instead these were thin and measly and not jam-packed with filling. They looked like they were made in a mould.
Some disappointing macaroons were never going to ruin our meal at Roux at Parliament Square. The food was for the most part, faultless. The main courses were some of the finest we’ve eaten in London. You’d be silly not to add this restaurant to your list – my only advice would be to avoid the very affordable set lunch. Spend a bit more money and order from the a la carte – you won’t regret it!