Eneko

Posted on Sunday, 25th June 2017

ENEKO

Eneko at One Aldwych is named after its famous owner, Eneko Atxa, the chef of Azurmendi Restaurant, a 3 Michelin star restaurant in the Basque region of Spain and currently No. 38 on The World’s Best 50 Restaurants List. Azurmendi is an exemplary example of modern Basque fine dining, and at Eneko, Chef Atxa seeks to introduce to Londoners the joys of his approach to Basque cooking, something that we were excited to go and see for ourselves. Enoko is the flagship restaurant at the luxury boutique five-star hotel One Aldwych London in Convent Garden, and is prominently located at the junction where Aldwych intersects with the Strand.

We began our evening experience at Eneko in ground floor bar which was curved in its layout and cosy and comfortable in its design. Following recommendations from the extremely friendly and attentive staff, we went for the suggested Gorki Izagirre Bizkaiko Txakolina (£10 for 175 ml). The Basque white, apparently made at Mr. Atxa’s uncle’s winery, was well-balanced in terms of acidity. However, it wasn’t particularly memorable as a wine to enjoy on its own, but would be ok to have as an accompaniment to wash down food with.

As for the restaurant itself, this was on the lower ground floor and was spacious and well-appointed. Carefully designed, it was both intimate and social, with the acoustics being properly monitored to minimise any amplified chatter and clanking that often fills other establishments. This space in every way epitomised what a modern fine-dining restaurant could aspire to look like.

Our first course was a delightfully tasty dish with a burst of summery colours, the Traditional Talo (£12). This was a basil-rich salad of heritage tomatoes served on a bed of talo (Basque tortilla chips) and it proved to be an epitome of basil freshness and deep rich flavours of well ripened tomatoes. The edible flowers helped to create a multi-sensory, visually arresting, seasonal experience. This was the best dish of the evening.

Eneko - London Food Blog - Traditional Talo

Eneko – Traditional Talo

Next was the Suckling Pig Tempura (£12) which didn’t reach the same spectacular heights. Roasted suckling pig is usually a delight in its own right and here the pork filling was indeed tasty. However, the concoction wasn’t enhanced by being deep-fried in batter as the marriage of a both these two styles – Japanese and Basque – didn’t quite work. It wasn’t a bad dish per se, but we felt we would have simply enjoyed the suckling pig on its own.

Eneko - London Food Blog - Suckling pig tempura

Eneko – Suckling pig tempura

Texturally, the Basque Duck Liver Pate (£10) was beautiful – smooth and as creamy as they come. However, it was ever so slightly lacking in intensity of liver flavour. It just needed a little bit more liver and slightly less cream.

Eneko - London Food Blog - Duck liver

Eneko – Duck liver

Moving onto the mains, we enjoyed the Braised Pork Cheeks (£17), but surprisingly, the pièce de résistance of the dish was the wonderfully flavourful caramelised shallots, champignons and ham accompaniments, rather than the pork itself. The cheeks were tasty, but wasn’t quite as melting-in-your-mouth as could have been expected.

Eneko - London Food Blog - Pork cheeks

Eneko – Pork cheeks

The Basque-style spelling of the Txipirones en Su Tinta (£13) was a nice way to represent this very classic of Spanish dishes, squid cooked in its own ink. The squid was tender, the ink sauce was rich, and altogether it was a tasty, pleasantly acceptable dish. One thing to note on the mains was that we felt that these were a little too small in size to be called mains. Perhaps a better way to represent them was to call them “sharing plates”.

Eneko - London Food Blog - Squid in ink

Eneko – Squid in ink

The side dish of Stuffed Pequillo Peppers (£7) turned out to be a veritable anti-climax. The peppers had been overdone, and the sauce was floury and unpleasant. In all, it was rather unpleasant to eat.

Eneko - London Food Blog - Stuffed peppers

Eneko – Stuffed peppers

To desserts, and the torrija (£8) here consisted of a very tasty and moist Basque vanilla sponge served “a la mode” – with caramel crumble ice cream. This was a delicious joy to seat. The Salted Caramel Mousse (£8) Cookie crumble with sheep’s milk ice cream and white chocolate showed off strong technical execution. It was tasty, but I would have preferred a slightly punchier flavour in the salted caramel which would have made this dish shine.

Eneko - London Food Blog - Torrija

Eneko – Torrija

Eneko - London Food Blog - Salted caramel

Eneko – Salted caramel

Whilst the menu was evidently technical in design and thought, and the presentation was in alignment with a Michelin pedigree, some of the dishes didn’t quite strike the right balance in terms of flavour. On this front, some tweaking was needed with the cooking. Still we appreciated the inventiveness and originality of the Eneko concept, the beautiful fine-dining setting and the fairly reasonably priced menu.

To the Service: well this was a combination of both overly friendly and chatty, American-style waiters, and a somewhat sternly assertive head maître d’.

Summary Information:
Likes:

1) The dish of the evening was the Traditional Talo.
2) The decor.


Dislikes:

1) Stuffed Pequillo Peppers


Food rating:
3.5/5
Service rating: 3.75/5

Price: About £32 to £45 a head, excludes drinks and service.

Website: http://www.eneko.london/

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Eneko At One Aldwych Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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