What: An exclusive vegetarian set menu created personally by Eneko at One Aldwych.
New? The vegetarian dishes were added earlier this month but have been officially launched for National Vegetarian Week which runs from the 15th to 21st May.
Where? One Aldwych, Strand WC2B 4BZ www.eneko.london
On the Menu: The food at Eneko at One Aldwych is innovative and exciting, especially for vegetarians; not a mushroom risotto or gnocchi dish in sight. Three Michelin-starred chef Eneko Atxa’s Basque roots can be seen across the menu with the likes of the traditional talo; a crispy corn talo topped with heritage tomatoes and basil emulsion.
First Impressions: Eneko at One Aldwych is easy to miss from the street level but once found immediately takes you downstairs to the intimate bar area which is ideal for a pre-dinner drink. Downstairs again takes you to the main dining area, the staff is on top form throughout the evening.
The Look: There is a relatively dark colour scheme with dark wooden flooring and panelled light and dark grey walls. The sofa booths add bright pops of red while the staircase is lined with sheets of copper, the toilets are near impossible to find as the door looks like part of the black wall and we were warned that previous diners had been seen hovering nearby unsure of where to go.
What We Ate: Setting the standard high from the get go was the traditional talo topped with deliciously fresh tomatoes and divine basil emulsion, so seemingly simple but packing a punch taste wise. There is also a great beetroot tartare with pickled red onion, soufflé potato and strong barbeque sauce.
Easily the most interesting thing on the menu is cauliflower served four ways. Cauliflower is transformed into caviar that you can’t taste at first and then suddenly the undeniable cauliflower taste fills your mouth, underneath is creamed cauliflower topped with cauliflower crisps, in between sits a cheese yolk which is the size and texture of an egg yolk and when eaten whole pops in your mouth to release the creamy melted cheese – all cheese lovers need to experience this magic. The avocado tempura is quite light and almost sweet served with Basque red pepper sauce and more of the delicious basil emulsion.
The only smudge on an otherwise impeccable menu is sadly awarded to the wheat stew which had an intense taste in the worst way, too many strong flavours combined just became unpalatable. Continuing back on track and ending on a high note was the Basque sponge in light vanilla sauce with bread ice cream, slightly reminiscent of a wetter bread and butter pudding the top was caramelised adding a tantalising crunch.
What We Drank: At the bar we chose the Golden Mary which is a lighter take on the Bloody Mary, opting for spiced vodka and golden tomato juice over traditional ingredients, and has a gazpacho type feel to it. Once seated at our table we were presented with a tree adorned with edible shots the size (and appearance) of cherry tomatoes. They crack easily when eaten whole releasing the rum, passionfruit juice and floral tea, leaving the chocolatey shell. It’s like something out of Willy Wonka and an absolute must try.
Go With: Vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike will enjoy the high-quality food.
Final Word: Eneko is paving the way for chefs to turn their talents boldly towards vegetarian dishes, no longer a side thought he transformed each dish into a main event that diners can be excited about. This is a truly special and clever menu, top marks.