Eneko at One Aldwych

Restaurants, Spanish Covent Garden
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Eneko at One Aldwych
Venue says Enjoy London’s first Basque brunch every weekend with sharing plates of delicious Spanish dishes and free-flowing Cava.

The first London restaurant from a three-starred Basque chef.

You can tell a lot about a restaurant from its butter. Whether churned in-house, smoked or run through with bone marrow, cared-about dairy is usually a good sign of things to come. And at Eneko, a spacious Basque eatery at One Aldywch hotel it is exceptional. This is the first London joint from Eneko Atxa, whose Azurmendi restaurant near Bilbao holds three Michelin stars. The butter comes topped with black pepper and chives, squidged together in a mortar so it’s edged with a verdant slick: you can then pile it on to good sourdough. If only the rest of the meal had continued in this vein.

Two starter platters were brilliant to look at but mixed bags to eat. The Txerri Boda Pork Festival (in a pig’s head-shaped box) was the better, featuring a tiny, tasty milk roll stuffed with crumbly chorizo; but the Memories of Bay of Biscay (ooooh, dry ice!) was marked more depressingly by a mulch of prawn tartare overpowered by the flavour of onion.

A main of confit pork cheek with earthy ham duxelle was better, pinging fresh notes afforded by a few fried shallots. Cod tripe sounded ace, but the macaroni-like chitterlings were obliterated by the rich tomato and pepper sauce they were swimming in.

Eneko has flashes of culinary brilliance, which show just what it might have been. But overall, the cooking is reflective of its pastel-flecked hotel atrium surroundings: blandly populist and a major pain in the wallet.

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Eneko at One Aldwych says
Located in the heart of London's West End, Eneko at One Aldwych is a stylish restaurant and wine bar from acclaimed Chef Eneko Atxa. Serving a modern take on traditional Basque dishes from northern Spain, the relaxed Covent Garden restaurant is a new departure for Chef Eneko, whose three-Michelin Azurmendi restaurant is one of the World’s Top 50 Restaurants.

Within a ten-minute walk of over twenty of London’s West End theatres and the Royal Opera House, the restaurant serves an exciting theatre menu making it ideal for dinner before or after a show.

Get together with friends to enjoy a tasty weekend brunch with a bottomless option and experience traditional Basque dishes, many for sharing.

The wine bar is the perfect setting for socialising and features a carefully crafted exclusive all-Spanish wine list with several wines from Eneko’s family vineyard outside of Bilbao.
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By: Tom Howells

Posted:

Venue name: Eneko at One Aldwych
Contact:
Address: One Aldwych Hotel
1 Aldwych
London
WC2B 4BZ
Opening hours: Mon-Sat midday-2.30pm, 5.30pm-11pm; Sun midday-3.30pm, 6pm-10pm
Transport: Tube: Temple
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and sevice: around £140.
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LiveReviews|5
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I had no expectations despite the great reputation of their restaurant in Bilbao, Spain. We were duly impressed. The shellfish "tapas" to start with were out of this world and they presented them in  a fog-making plate that made it look even more 'alien'. They not only looked good, they tasted great. We had also cod and  presa iberica, and some great Spanish wine and enjoyed a very nice dinner with great service and ambiance. The decor is very special and it aided to the experience. And the best surprise of the night was the bill., less than £170 for two for this quality in the centre of London. I will go back, definitely. 


I suppose it all comes down to expectations. I arrived with an open mind as I have still not been to Azurmendi restaurant in Bilbao. The venue seems impeccable as it was the service, Eneko himself on the dinning floor overseeing the lunch.

I had the anchovies, fresh and perfectly made. It used to be my mother's specialty, they did not disappoint, beautifully presented a la fish and chips, crisp and light. I particularly liked the beetroot (I am surprised at the other negative review), there were a great mixture of sharp and sweet flavour I found very exciting. The star of the show was the Txerri Boda, evoking childhood times for me.

The main courses were also spectacular, my Cod Bizkaina was a surprise, as I had never eaten anything like it. The contrast in textures and flavours between the tripe sauce a the crispy bites was a delight. I also loved the hake, why eating it in any other way? Pretty and perfectly cooked. Finally, the oxtail, rich and intense in flavour but not overwhelming, was another success.

Sadly I had no space for desert but I felt I had the right amount if food. Next time.

The whole experience was great. The three of us agreed (rarely occurrence) that it was top marks for this new venture.

The chat with the lovely Eneko after our meal was a perfect end to our treat. It is not everyday that you can have a three star michelin lunch with wine for less than £60 per person.

I hope Londoners are ready for him

Tastemaker

Given the heritage of Eneko and the hype surrounding this restaurant, I, along with everyone else in London, expected great things. In short, they don't match them. Ultimately, good ideas, respect for ingredients and attention to detail is let down by poor execution and finesse. 


None of the dishes were particularly outstanding, and some of them outright were poor (beetroot dish I'm looking at you). Probably my favourite dishes were the pork pressa (served very pink so avoid if you're squeamish) and the hake. Oh and the sheep ice cream, but the accompanying desserts with them are sub par too. 


The food here has a different focus on the palate that hasn't translated particularly well I think, especially given the price of the food without the opening soft launch offer which has now ended. Here, the food tries to pick one particular flavour and just enhance it to the maximum and bring it out on the dish. Sounds good, but again, never quite perfectly done. The Bay of Biscay dish was fun and exciting, with some great prawn tartare...but was it better than other seafood dishes I've had in London? Definitely not. The mushroom dish was an intense overload of mushrooms. Like seriously, WAY too much. And the duck breast was chewy and just meh.


I would point out on a positive note that the food did improve from my 2nd to first visit, with minor changes to the menu and new things being trialled. Good to see they take the criticism on board, but for me, too little, too late!

Tastemaker

A very classy restaurant situated in the basement of the Aldwych Hotel. It’s a residency from Eneko Atxa the man behind the three Michelin starred restaurant Azurmendi Bilbao offering modern Basque cuisine. 


We were welcomed with a selection of breads served with garlic and herbs batter, which were only vaguely traceable.

The menu is divided between dished from the sea, land and garden but also has the ordinary meat, fish, veggie sections.

The most visually spectacular dish of the night was the oyster, crab and prawn tartares, served on a bed of seaweed and stones surrounded by liquid nitrogen fog. The best of the trio was the prawn tartare, the oyster and crab were average.

The anchovies in tempura were cute, served as a tiny fish and chips set, but didn’t have any wow factor either. They were way too oily.


The hake in tempura with red pepper sauce and parsley emulsion was beautifully cooked, white the ox tail was far too rich and the mash potatoes were plain.


The desserts exhibited on a big wooden trolley brought to the table added an element of fun and made it easier to choose. The giant macaroon served with fresh raspberries and basil ganache was just a good quality macaroon, it was the little drop of basil that was outstanding. The Basque vanilla pudding was actually a delicate sponge cake, super moist, melting in your mouth. It was served with sheep ice cream which were also extremely creamy ad surprisingly tasty. The cheesecake was in a runny form but it was delicious to. Unfortunately, most of the other ice-cream that all desserts are served with were not available that day due to a machine fault. And it seems that that the fruit flies recently follow me to every restaurant I’ve been visiting.


Considering how elaborate some of the dishes were, they arrived in a speed of light. When you choose a table near to the kitchen you can actually see the chefs bustling.


Generally, we had a very good dinner (we got one extra dessert as it was my sister’s birthday), but to be perfectly honest, I was expecting a bit more from the chief from the 16th best restaurant in the world, maybe I need to plan the next visit to the Basque Country for a better experience. 


London Foodie Mama had the pleasure of attending the soft launch (50% discount yeah!) of Eneko, a new upmarket restaurant serving food from the Basque region, fabulously located on the Strand in central  London near theatre land.


The décor of the venue is impressive, with a majestic sweeping stair case which leads guests from the bar area to the main dining room (this is lovely unless you have a buggy with you, although staff were keen to assist). It’s a place you would definitely bring your tinder date to..however we were apprehensive with our  unpredictable ticking time bomb also known as ‘the toddler’. The restaurant surprisingly provided highchairs which were clean..Remarkable! (perhaps never used before as no sane parents have dared bring a child to such a plush venue). The venue was very spacious  – but don’t even consider letting your little ones run around..it’s not that kinda place.


On to the food. We ordered the Txerri Boda Pork Festival (£15)  consisting of Mushroom & Iberico ham duxelle in milk bread, suckling pig brioche and crispy pork jowl. This was a delight, with pillow soft bread and tasty fillings encased in a charming wooden carved pig head box – our only complaint was the small size of these slider type starters for the price tag (OK this place ain’t cheap and you better get some ‘Return on Investment’ from that Tinder date). Our main course was the perfectly cooked Basque style hake in tempura (£21) – soft in the middle, crisp on the outside. We also ordered the Potatoes in herb and txakoli sauce with fried crisp egg yolks – the highlight being the ingenious bursting egg yolks..disappointing were the slightly undercooked potatoes. For dessert, we had the rice pudding (£9) –  sadly this was a low point. Chosen from the pre-made dessert trolley, it lacked the freshly prepared taste and the rice could have been cooked for longer. The flavours failed to excite and live up to the standards set by the preceding dishes. The accompanying sheep’s milk ice cream was marvellous though – not too ‘sheepy’ tasting as feared.


Overall, we had a great experience (and it was an EXPERIENCE, not just fill the tummy and go): the food, dazzling surroundings and friendly service. Would only return paying full price if someone else was treating – can’t part with £9 for one dessert (that’s like the price of ~40 nappies).  Not advised to bring the kids for dinner, perhaps lunch but only those accustomed to dining out and BEHAVING! https://londonfoodiemama.wordpress.com/