Enjoy a Square meal or you’ll Roux the day!
24 March, 2020 — By Tom Moggach
Roux at Parliament Square – low lighting and dark wood panelling
THIS may be the last restaurant review for a while – at least in terms of dining out. Some businesses have already closed; others are fighting for survival by spacing out tables and offering takeaways.
It’s absolutely heart-breaking for all involved – especially the staff facing an uncertain future.
In this context, a meal at Roux at Parliament Square has a particular resonance, being located just a stone’s throw from the centre of government, almost in the shadow of the scaffolded Big Ben.
It’s the kind of venue where politicians and civil servants might enjoy a fine meal and discreet conversation.
I walked there from the bus stop on Whitehall, on an evening with a palpable sense of crisis: the lights and sirens of multiple police cavalcades piercing the air.
That day, the death had also been announced of Michel Roux – a totemic figure in the British food industry.
My guest for dinner was a friend on a night off. She works as a waitress and rents a flat on her own – so wanted to live in the moment.
This restaurant was opened by Michel Roux Jnr. The head chef is a chap called Steve Groves, whom he first spotted on MasterChef and is now one of the best in the business.
This is a grand venue locatedon the ground floor of the Georgian Grade II-listed building of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
The dining room is as opulent as you might expect, with low lighting and dark wood panelling. Table are laid with heavy linen tablecloths and vases of tulips.
I won’t forget our meal. Dishes ranged from the simple to elaborate – all composed with immense technique and subtlety. Service is formal but friendly.
There was a snack of tuna tartare with discs of pickled purple carrot, avocado purée and a sprinkle of furikake, a Japanese seasoning. The contrast of textures was pitch perfect.
Spears of early English asparagus were draped with morel mushrooms – a surprising dance of vegetal and earthy flavours.
A chicken wing was trimmed, stuffed and served with translucent onion skins filled with a fiddly dice of Morteau sausage.
The meal was punctuated with complex sauces. Here, a sticky and intense Perigueux – made with a reduction of madeira and black truffle.
In another dish, a fillet of chalk stream trout was bathed in a sauce spiked with coconut.
The sommelier was poetic, introducing us to an orange wine called Fuoripista, an unusual pinot grigio made with eight months of skin maceration.
To end, we sunk spoons into a fluffy soufflé made with caramelised banana and salted butterscotch.
It goes without saying that a meal here is not cheap, but for us this felt like the right time to celebrate our human civilisation.
As I write, Roux at Parliament Square is currently open. But a recent tweet by Michel Roux Jnr reveals his mischievous sense of humour: “Deliveroux here I come.”
11 Great George St, SW1P
0207 334 3737