Eneko Atxa, whose three Michelin-starred Bilbao restaurant Azurmendi is no.16 in the World’s 50 Best, has just opened Eneko in London. Offering a more relaxed version of his New Basque cuisine, a chef of his standing arriving in London is very big news indeed, so we were straight down there to check it out. Eneko is located the the One Aldwych hotel, at the bottom of a bronze staircase that leads you down two floors to the main restaurant space below. Eneko may be going for a more relaxed vibe, but fortunately he hasn’t gone too casual – service is slick and the cooking creative, with some presentation tricks you’d certainly associate with Michelin fine dining.
Our two starters, Memories of the Bay of Biscay and Txerri Boda Pork Festival could have come straight out of the Fat Duck kitchen. The Bay of Biscay – an oyster, prawn tartare, and crab – arrived on a silver vented platter with plumes of dry ice coming up from underneath. The Pork Festival was three bao buns, which perhaps could of been softer; stuffed Iberico ham, chorizo, and black pudding came in a wooden presentation box, with the lid bearing a carved pig’s head.[URIS id=73580]
Mains were presented on plates (SHOCK HORROR – though one was rectangular) and brought one of the highlights of the meal: super tender roasted Iberico presa with chickpea and garlic cream. Basque-style hake in a light tempura was also very well executed. Desserts had us giddy like kids in a sweet shop when a whole trolly of treats rolled up to the table. This makes it very hard to choose, however, so follow our lead and order four so you don’t miss out: Torrija, a Basque vanilla sponge; caramelised rice pudding; dark chocolate with biscuit crumble; and cheesecake with red fruits.
Eneko is already producing some impressive dishes – go basque in it.
One Aldwych Hotel, 1 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BZ