As a general rule, restaurants housed in any of London’s five star hotels are not for the tight-fisted Scrooges amongst us. If there also happens to be the name of a celebrity chef above the door or emblazoned across the menu, you and your debit card should enter at your own risk. These places are high-end and high-cost, as a general rule. However, sometimes the clever ones bend the rules a little and offer a more affordable alternative to lure in new guests. Why? Because high-end or not, restaurants need diners, and diners inevitably love a good deal.
I am one of these deal-loving diners, a label I’m not ashamed to wear because let’s be frank, my dining addiction has been quite onerous on my finances. So on numerous occasions I’ve happily (and sensibly) ditched the a la carte menu for a much more succinct set menu offering at a fraction of the price but still with all the restaurant’s usual bells and whistles! My latest deal-hunting triumph was a mid-week jolly to the gloriously elegant Roux at The Landau in The Langham.
We were surprised and impressed by the menu. Surprised at the number of options; usually with these deals there’s a meat, fish, and vegetarian dish for the savoury courses and two desserts, one of which might be a cheese plate for a few extra quid. Here though, there were about five choices for each course and I was impressed by how many of them got my tastebuds tingling. A £39 set menu is not going to afford you the restaurant’s most high end dishes so don’t get your hopes up for rib eye or truffles, but you should still expect quality, well-executed dishes. It’s a good thing we had a glass of their signature Roux champagne and couple of canapés to quell my hunger while I was assessing the pros and cons of each dish!
I finally settled on the delicate sea bream ceviche with avocado, lime and radish salad, mainly because I seem to have a magnetic pull towards raw fish. The ceviche itself was subtly sharp, nothing like those proper lip-pursingly tangy versions, and a perfect match for the creamy avocado and crisp salad. The whole dish was so light and angelic, I thought it was a fine choice for a balmy spring evening… but a certain someone’s white asparagus salad with gribiche sauce and smoked duck certainly gave it a run for its money in the pretty-plates-stakes.
From the menu, we weren’t entirely sure what the ‘gribiche sauce’ was (go on, take away some foodie points) but after a couple of mouthfuls and a process of elimination, it became pretty obvious… the tender but still crisp asparagus was accounted for, the smoked duck provided the small bursts of saltiness, but what was that eggy-mayonnaise on the base of the dish? Gribiche, of course it was. It provided a welcomed richness and substance to the dish, and was quite delicious even though a certain someone found it was a touch heavy on the mustard!
A certain someone moved from one fowl to another by indulging in a main of roast chicken supreme with stuffed savoy cabbage, lardo, and sauce ‘Albufera’. The latter being the creamy creation drizzled over the moist chicken breast, while the former tasted like they were stuffed with the dark chicken meat or livers. I remained pescatarian for the evening with the roasted skate wing, lemon gnocchi and shellfish Dieppoise sauce. Another dish, another obscure sauce which was a mystery to me until it arrived on the table. Those familiar with classic French technique (which the Rouxs are renown for) will be shaking their heads at my blasphemy, but for the rest of us, let’s just say it’s a rich seafood-based veloute and call it quits.
It was the perfect base for the fluffy pillows of gnocchi, assortment of mussels, and that majestic skate. I have always loved the texture and buttery flavour of skate wing, but I’ve never quite had it like this – a slight caramelised undertone from the roasting and completely off the bone. While the technical elements of the dish were obvious, I couldn’t help but still view it as one of those homely, comforting plates of food you just never want to finish.
Dessert led us to two very different dishes and one serious case of plate envy. I liked my lime infused pineapple, mango sorbet and light champagne velouté, I really did. On another night, in another restaurant, against different dessert competition, I probably would have loved it because I adore pineapple, but not here. I couldn’t even feel smug at having chosen the marginally healthier choice because I was too busy gazing at a certain someone’s sinfully sexy looking caramelia mousse with bitter chocolate and Pedro Ximenez ice cream. The only fault he found was that the booze was too subdued, so we can safely say it tasted as good as it looked!
Roux at The Landau was all the classic French fare and five star finesse I was expecting, but with the set menu deal, it was even better than I had hoped. All the proper pomp of champagne, canapés, three wholesome courses, and petit fours, but with none of the eye-watering prices. It’s a winning situation for all parties – diners get to dip their toes into the menu without fully committing the king’s share of that week’s spending money, and restaurants, if they play their cards right, might end up with new return customers. Roux at The Landau will definitely be seeing us again… deal or no deal!
Whether you’re a regular deal-hunter or a complete set menu novice, you should definitely take advantage of Bookatable’s Feast on London deals which are running until the end of April!
Thanks to Bookatable for letting me dine in style for a fraction of the price, but as always, all opinions are mine and mine alone!