Saturday, 29 February 2020

Endo at the Rotunda, London Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant review


It’s rather fitting that Endo at the Rotunda is located on the top floor of the former BBC Television Centre in White City as watching the kitchen team at work in this Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant is as compelling entertainment as the latest TV boxset.


A procession of different chefs served us an 11 course omakase set lunch (£60) accompanied by passionate explanations about the provenance and preparation of their ingredients and masterful displays of sushi sleight of hand.


Greeted by a host at the TV centre’s former reception, we were whisked up in an elevator to the top floor into a cloud-like dining room with views towards central London. With only twelve covers and all the seats directly facing the kitchen, it's very much a chef’s table experience. 


I don't have a frame of reference when it comes to high end sushi but I was seriously impressed by the freshness and texture of the fish, the perfectly seasoned body temperature rice, the judicious amount of freshly grated wasabi and the small brush of a sweet umami-rich glaze. 

A bowl of miso soup, dotted with enoki mushrooms, had a delicious depth of flavour. 


Delicately fiery pickled ginger was to be used as a palate cleanser between courses rather than to accompany the sushi. It certainly did the job. 


Next up was Endo's business card, his signature dish. A crisp nori taco was loaded with diced raw tuna impeccably seasoned with soy, wasabi and onion. 


Line-caught brill sashimi had been lightly salted to remove some of the water and give it a meatier texture. It was dressed with the funk of winter truffle and citrus lift of yuzu and accompanied by a dainty salad of beets and leaves. 


Lightly-seared medium-fatty tuna nigiri, sourced from a trusted supplier in Spain, was as fine a piece of tuna as I've ever eaten. A theme will begin to emerge as I fail to provide differing descriptions for bits of fish and rice. 


Next up was French sea bream nigiri. Such is the ridiculous attention to detail that Endo imports water from Japan due to the flavour it imparts on the sushi rice. 

 
Cornish monkfish tempura was juicy and dressed in the lightest and crunchiest of batters. A bonus battered pied de mouton mushroom was meaty as heck too. They both sat in a light, savoury and slightly sweet dipping sauce. After we finished, we were encouraged to pick the bowl up and drink; I gladly obliged. 


Fatty tuna delivered the same luxuriousness as well-marbled steak. 


Yellowtail, a first for me, was topped with a blob of briny caviar. 


Vivid red Akami zuke saw lean tuna marinated in a house blend of soy sauces to add umami. 


Finally, uber beefy, ridiculously tender and well crusted A4 grade wagyu was served with a vivid sauce of sancho pepper, wasabi and miso (a Japanese take on peppercorn sauce) and accompanied by baked celeriac and carrot. 

 
A pretty dessert was indulgent yet palate refreshing. Two types of sweet pear and pink grapefruit were joined by yuzu cream, grated white chocolate, milk chocolate balls, popping candy and creme fraiche. 


We had an absolutely belting lunch at Endo at the Rodunda. 60 quid a head for front row seats at one of the hottest shows in town seems like a good deal to me.

The Details:

Address - Endo at the Rotunda, 8th Floor, The Helios, Television Centre, 101 Wood Ln, Shepherd's Bush, London W12 7FR
Web - https://www.endoatrotunda.com/
Email - reservations@endoatrotunda.com

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Holborn Dining Room, London restaurant review


Master carpenter, master builder, master plumber. These are all trades I have a lot of respect for - all those years spent honing an artisanal craft until you reach the top of your game.

But, it's pie masters I have respect for above all others.

Oh to be able to craft a water crust pastry Venus de Milo out of nothing more than flour, lard and water.

Calum Franklin is the UK’s pre-eminent pie master. His intricate creations have gained him a cult following on Instagram.

He's based at the Holborn Dining Room in London's uber-swank Rosewood Hotel. The dining room oozes luxury with its moody lighting, brass rails and leather banquettes.


The menu is a comforting who's who of brasserie classics with a pie at every turn. It's all rather pricey but I guess that's what you'd expect in this kind of gaff.

Coombeshead sourdough and Abernethy butter are both best in class. The crisp-crusted, tangy crumbed bread is perfect with a slick of golden Irish butter 


A scotch egg (£10) is the champion of the Scotch Egg Challenge 2015, a prestigious competition founded by the legendary Guinea Grill landlord Oisin Rogers. It's very good - crisp of crumb, golden yolked and with well-seasoned and exceptionally loosely packed sausage meat. I like a little more bite to my meat but it’s a minor criticism. 


Octopus pieces (£15) are tender and meaty with a lovely lick of char. They're served with big hunks of chorizo which are assertively spiced; they’re an ideal foil. 


It's pies across the board for main course.

A steak and kidney pudding (£22) is the winner. Loaded with meat in an intensely beefy gravy, its suet cocoon is soft, light and not at all stodgy. 


A chicken, tarragon and girolle pie (£23) is packed to the brim with big hunks of meat in a gorgeously herb fragranced cream sauce. The golden pastry case is crisp, buttery and every bit as enjoyable as the filling. 


A curried mutton pie (£23) is stuffed with tender shreds of yielding spice-packed flesh. It's all thriller and no filler. A zingy mango salsa and creamy curry sauce with a good wallop of chilli add even more interest to the plate. 


Sweet heritage carrots (£6) have a little bit too much bite for me. 


Top notch champ (£6) is decadently buttery and beautifully smooth. 


For pud, a light and crisp meringue (£9) is adorned with super smooth coconut ice cream and blackberry coulis. I prefer a bit more squidge and chew to my meringue but it gets a big thumbs up from Mrs G. 


A cylinder of egg and vanilla rich brûléed custard (£9) is served with fragrant rhubarb with a lovely bite and a cracking champagne sorbet. 


Only my dessert disappoints slightly - a salted caramel Paris-Brest (£9) is loaded with hazelnut cream and topped with toasted almonds. But, it's just not as good as Cocorico's - the pastry is a little soft and there's a slight bitterness from the caramel. 


I really liked Holborn Dining Room. The pies really are the star of the show and they're worth hunting down. But, this is a pricey place - if you want to save a penny the canny option would be to source a takeaway pie from their Pie Room next door and guzzle it on a nearby park bench.

The Details:

Address - Holborn Dining Room, 252 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 7EN
Web - https://holborndiningroom.com/
Telephone - 020 3747 8633