We have recently celebrated five years of marriage. Usually we are on holiday over our anniversary but due to bad weather previously in September we decided to go away a little earlier this year which left us looking for somewhere to celebrate back here in the UK. We needed good value, cheap-ish dining so I made a shortlist of restaurants that had a good value set menu and there is actually quite a few out there. We even set ourselves a budget for once! I threw a few places in that I really would like to eat at, although I really knew where my wife would want to go, hence the title of this post, “it has to be Roux”.
I know there is more than one Roux and we actually went to Roux at The Landau. The set menu offer is three courses, half a bottle of wine, water for the table and coffee and petits fours for £47.50. Added to the fact that last year we had booked afternoon tea in The Langham which we had to cancel due to me being very unwell, then it really was a no brainer.
Roux at the Landau is a joint venture between father and son, Albert Roux & Michel Roux Jr, with their protégée at the helm in the kitchen. The entrance is easily passed and we almost headed for the main hotel entrance before realising we had just passed The Landau. You pass wine cabinets as you enter the restaurant which is decorated with wood panelling, giving you a feeling of a stately home. There is a horse theme running through the restaurant which isn’t obvious at first, you just notice the horses above the doorways, then on the corner of the table-cloth, a horse motif on the salt and pepper cellars. Being lunch, the room is bright and I imagine it has a completely different feel in the evening.
We are made to feel extremely welcome and seated in one of the booth type seats they have, a curved bench to we can sit next to each other and survey the restaurant. The menus are handed to us and like many set menus, there is only a choice of three different dished for each course which for me is no problem. For my wife it becomes a little more difficult and I was worried when I saw that day’s menu. After assuring her that partridge is not too gamey, we both ordered the partridge and foie gras starter. The fact we can both choose a half bottle is very useful also as my wife prefers white and I, red. I choose a Rioja Crianza Vina, 2005 Amezoia and my wife had the Chablis Martin, 2009 Domaine Laroche. The wines do not come in half bottles, these are full bottles and are served from the bottle rather than putting in small decanters.
The starters arrive, the smell is captivating and I dive in. It is a classic combination really, partridge, walnuts, foie gras. It all goes together so well and no flavour is lost. You can taste each individual ingredient. I was quite impressed with the size of the dish as well, a generous amount of partridge with two good sized slices of foie gras. No stingy portions on this set menu.
For mains, my wife had chosen the special from the carving trolley, pork belly. We both had our theories about this as the belly was huge. My theory is that they must have used the full belly, both sides of the animal rather than it being cut in half. My wife’s theory is that it must have been a huge pig. This is carved at the table and, as two slices are put on the plate, my wife is asked if she would like another. A further sign of the generous portions. She declines and as we discuss how good the crackling looks, she is given every spare bit they can find (I think someone actually refused crackling – does that really happen?). My wife enjoyed this immensely and had to put aside the veg to finish off the pork.
I had gone for the beef. This is feather beef, braised with junipers and served with pickled red cabbage and garlic spaetsle. The kind of dish I love and at the same time annoys me. I should explain that I think I make a pretty mean red cabbage dish so it annoys me when I keep being served another version that completely blows mine out of the water. The beef was so tender and I make a good go of it. I did find the dish very rich and struggled to finish this so am afraid to say I left a bit on the plate.
We have a rest, the room is emptying out as we had booked a 2pm sitting. We can’t help but be nosey at the group of ladies a couple of tables away, especially when the calculator came out to figure out each other’s share. This did take a while and I wouldn’t have mentioned it except for the fact that they were doing this before we were served our desserts and were still sorting it when we left.
So on to desserts. Okay, I do feel the menu let’s itself down a little here as the choice is cheeses, selection of ice cream and sorbet and a tiramisu. Actually scratch that, I DID think it let itself down. I now think that the cheeses would have been pretty spectacular cheeses, after all this is a Roux establishment and then it’s unlike to be just any old ice cream or sorbet. But to be honest there is only one thing that is needed on the dessert menu, the tiramisu, more specifically, a spiced fig tiramisu. You may not be a desert person, you may be stuffed after the first two courses, as we were, you may be considering cheese or just skipping onto coffee. Don’t. If you go to Roux and this dessert is on the menu, order it. Savour it. Take it home and….. sorry, getting carried away here. It is quite simply outstanding. I, Simon the savoury fan, hereby claims that this tiramisu is the best dessert I have had all year. Note I don’t go as far to say ever as that crown goes to Le Gavroche (yes I know it’s a Roux thing).
Why is this dessert so good? First it’s not overly sweet. Second, I love figs and the spice is not overpowering. Third, it’s so light you could eat a dozen plates and not be full. The way it’s served is great. You get a slice of the cake, a sponge base with the figs, the lighter than air mascarpone, dusting of chocolate. Then each element is served in another way, slices of spiced fig, chocolate sticks and an excellent mascarpone sorbet. The dessert chef at Roux needs applauding, he is added to the list of six chefs that have got me to finish off a dessert. If you’re wondering that list is Michel Roux Jr, Francesco Mazzei, the Dessert Chef at Café a Vin, Tristan Welch and I think probably it was Matt that was on at my local restaurant, Mustard. Not bad company to be in.
In case you were still unsure, I really liked the dessert. So there we sit, stuffed, wanting more dessert and my wife asking where I’m taking her for champagne. We didn’t have coffee and actually were never asked but to be honest, we didn’t want it so I think the staff were that good they knew we wouldn’t have any. We had a lovely chat with Vito who I assume was Maître d’ or is the restaurant manager. At this point every table was paying up so we had time to chat with the staff. We also had several staff come up and wish us a happy anniversary. Now I’m not sure if I mentioned it when booking, I can’t remember mentioning it but I did mention it on twitter and I assume that The Langham picked up on it there. We may not have had coffee but we did have the very nice petits fours which you can see for yourselves how they arrived. No comment was made of it being a special day until this point so it was a complete surprise to us.
We have to thank the staff at Roux for a great meal and making us feel so welcome. I always say that this kind of restaurant shows it class by the way it treats it’s diners, whether you are on the set lunch or buying the most expensive wine and food on the menu, you are all made to feel special.
+44 (0)20 7965 0165
The Langham, London
1c Portland Place, Regent Street
London W1B 1JA