Posted on Tuesday, 5th May 2015
RANDALL & AUBIN
I recently had a lovely Sunday Lunch at Randall & Aubin as part of a Zomato meetup. An oldie but a goodie, Randall & Aubin has been a Soho institution since it opened in 1996 and is known for its fresh seafood and fun, convivial atmosphere. I have often walked past Randall & Aubin and been deterred from going in by the queues outside. But queues can be a good thing too as that must surely mean that the food is good!
The meetup event began with a cooking demonstration by Chef Ed Baines. He took us through the intricacies of making a good seafood sauce and the key to prepping seafood such as the cod that we had for lunch and other crustaceans. The session was really informative and enjoyable, particularly the bit where we got to try the oysters! Ed began his career at the age of 16 with an apprenticeship at The Dorchester under Anton Mosimann. Thereafter he travelled the world, spending time in Australia where he was instrumental in developing the Pacific Rim cuisine there. Ed has also cooked at Bibendum, The River Cafe, and has worked as the official chef to Giorgio Armani. Thereafter he went on to open Daphne’s in South Kensington before teaming up with Jamie Poulton to open Randall & Aubin in 1996.
For starters, I had the hand picked Devon Crab (£12.85) with shrimp, avocado, pimento salsa and toasted brioche which was a tasty way to start the meal. The sweetness of the crab married beautifully with the earthy creaminess of the avocado and the sweetness of the salsa. This was a well-seasoned and enjoyable plate of food.
I also tried the crab cakes and the mussels. The crab cakes (£9.85) with watercress and a radish salad were also well made with a healthy crab flavour and a crunchy coating, made more enjoyable with some zingy lime mayonnaise. Classic moules marinières with garlic, parsley and cream (£10.85) were cooked well to maintain their texture and flavour, but the sauce was a touch salty.
For our mains, we had the roasted British cod (£18.95) with Dorset crab, garden salad, shrimp cream and Jersey royal potatoes. The cod was perfectly cooked and moist, and I really enjoyed the seasonal earthiness of the asparagus and the sprightliness of the samphire in the salad. The shrimp cream, robust with seafood flavour, was really nicely done.
To desserts, and my favourite was the chocolate Sacher torte with crème fraiche (£7.50). Although it didn’t resemble a traditional Austrian Sacher torte which typically has a very solid texture, a layer of apricot jam and chocolate coating, it was nevertheless gloriously decadent and rich. Delicious! The texture of the cake was wonderfully dense, yet moist, and the cake boasted of a deep chocolate flavour.
Baked vanilla cheesecake with caramel and salted caramel ice cream (£7.50) was respectable with a creamy texture, but it wasn’t strong enough in the flavour arena as more vanilla was needed. A flambée crème brûlée (£7.50), so called as the sugar crust was set alight at the table to caramelise, was bewitching to watch. It was very tasty, but it rather runny. Finally, a sticky date pudding (£7.50) with toffee and ice cream was the least successful of the desserts as it was dry.
I really enjoyed the meal at Randall & Aubin. The restaurant has a relaxed and casual vibe, yet manages to maintain an air of casual elegance that speaks of ‘joie de vivre’. The menu offers a broad appeal. The dishes are simple in their design but tasty, and are cooked using seasonal ingredients and the freshest of seafood. The service was proficient and attentive as well. Fresh and well-cooked seafood married with a lovely ambience – well that always makes for an enjoyable dining experience.
1) The freshness of the seafood and the solid cooking.
2) The sacher torte.
3) The attentive service.
4) The fun and convivial atmosphere.
1) The mussels were salty.
2) The sticky toffee pudding and the cheesecake.
Food rating: 3.75/5
Service rating: 3.5/5
Prices: £23 to £59 for three courses, excludes drinks and service.