Finding quiet, civilised places to eat in the capital isn’t easy. Hectic, noisy and ever-so-slightly rushed dining experiences seem the order of the day 90 per cent of the time. So, what is one to do when a sophisticated, seamless evening is the only thing that will satisfy? Fortunately, we’ve found a solution.
Opened by Michel Roux Jr in 2010, Parliament Square is perhaps the most understated Roux outpost in London. The restaurant’s situated in a Grade II-listed townhouse on the edge of the Square, and has just undergone a plush refurbishment by interior design studio Rosendale Design. Now, it blends 1920s-inspired influences with the classical lines of the building’s Georgian past. Just a stone’s throw from Big Ben, Roux has the high ceilings, rich furnishings and panelled walls you’d expect of such lofty environs. As well as the main dining room, there’s also a selection of private rooms, and a swish cocktail bar on the first floor.
Today, it’s administered by Head Chef Steve Groves, Roux’s lieutenant, who has quite the shining CV. The pair met when Groves won MasterChef: The Professionals in 2009, which was then judged by Roux Jr. Groves also has stints at Le Gavroche, Noma and Launceston Place under his belt, and it shows.
In short, the food at Roux is nothing short of delicious. The small, elegant plates combine flavours in the kind of delicate balancing act that would put a Cirque du Soleil performer to shame. The amuse-bouches roll out first: blue cheese mousse, cèpe and tapioca crackers; a miniature take on the classic Rueben sandwich; and a daikon disc with tuna tartare. Starters include meaty veal sweetbreads in puff pastry with melt-in-the-mouth pork cheeks, plus Dorset crab with apple and a dashi broth, and mackerel with smoked buttermilk and quinoa. It’s food that’s true to Roux’s philosophy – classically informed, European and sophisticated – but with Groves’ own hearty stamp.
Mains include perfectly cooked venison with savoy cabbage and Alsace bacon, and ricotta gnudi with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and salsify. Deserts are served after a mango and passionfruit palate cleanser, with Guanaja chocolate cake with banana and peanut or delicately flavoured salted caramel tart topping the bill. If (like us) you’re feeling thoroughly greedy, Groves’ delicate petit fours and the roaming cheese trolley make for a fitting end to the meal.
So, the food’s refined, the surroundings distinguished and the service polished. Better still, your co-diners are discreet enough to be entirely forgettable – perfect for an evening without distractions. Our advice? Take someone you’d like to impress, whether your boss, parents or prospective father-in-law. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of time to enjoy the experience – this isn’t one to rush.