Roux at Parliament Square
Published: July 2010
Tucked next to the RICS just off Parliament Square, this new foray for Michel Roux Jnr of Le Gavroche and hey, let’s not pretend, Professional Masterchef is a glorious haven of plummy purples, grapes, aubergines and greys, a contemporary interior which does nothing but enhance the nineteenth century setting. Cornicing and architraving are lovingly preserved at a property designed by Alfred Waterhouse, he responsible for the Natural History Museum.
You ascend the first floor bar through the purple haze of the stairwell. It’s feels a bit Lotus Eaters but really it’s just lighting. The bar itself is clubby though not stuffy; the circular tables and easy chairs are thrillingly modern. Sitting over a glass of champagne and kicking canapés, I gazed around and noticed that the cupboard was a little bare. In fact, it was the restaurant’s last Saturday. Two months into business and RAPS had realised that Saturday’s just don’t tick in this neck of the woods, a bit like hawking your haute cuisine around the City of a weekend.
The menu is a tight as a drum; six starters, six mains and da-dah, six desserts. It’s £55 for three courses with the option of a cheese add-on. Britishness screams from the page; Launceston lamb, Jersey Royals, Berkshire black pork, and English hothouse tomatoes. The techniques however are classic and as French as Moliere though be prepared for fresh, bright, contemporary cooking. I opted for a tasting menu, eight courses at £66. My companion is ever a challenge, a gluten-intolerant pescatarian. But he was accommodated with ne’er the batting of a lid.
The dining room itself is a light and airy space with a drawing room feel in grey and white with sage curtains, signature large print modern wallpaper on one wall, and a leather studded aubergine banquette along the other.
The amuse bouche of scallops and oysters, lemon butter froth, and spinach got things going with its whiff of the sea. It was accompanied by a silky Alsace Pinot Gris from Albert Roux’s selection. Asparagus came as crunchy fresh as a damp dawn and Berkshire Pork exhibited the lightest crackling this far south of the Northern Lights. The highlight was a roast halibut with razor clam, fennel, girolles and Muscat, a dip into a frothy aniseed heaven whilst the winner in the wine section came late in the game; a Maury from Languedoc-Roussillon, fortified grenache, intense, glorious like new made jam cooling on a spoon. To match this Maury nothing would do but a junkie’s fill of Manjari chocolate mousse with caramel foam and banana sorbet.
The tastings tumbled in thick and fast, and yet I never felt anything other than the purity of Chef Dan Cox’s cooking, crystalline almost in its clarity. RAPS may not have been stirring up a storm on Saturdays but it’s rapidly becoming a Monday to Friday must. And I can’t think of a better reason for enjoying something on the weekend in the week. Wonderful.
Roux at Parliament Square
Gareth has been with TRAVEL CHANNEL since its launch in 1994. He has produced and presented on TRAVEL LIVE and THE TRAVEL BUG, produced ESSENTIAL... and reports on TRAVEL TODAY. He is a regular contributor to the website. In 2010 he produced the hit series THE HOLIDAY SHOW which he also co-presented with Ginny Buckley. Gareth’s passions are history, culture, food & drink.
For more information on the RAPS or Roux at Parliament Square visit www.rouxatparliamentsquare.co.uk