Laurent at Hotel Café Royal in Soho: Prime meat and inventive sushi – pure class and delight
More than just a luxurious treat in the heart of London, renowned chef Laurent Tourondel’s latest venture at Hotel Café Royal is a feast for the eyes and pure delight for the palate. The sophisticated sushi grill and bar is located on the first floor of the famous hotel in Piccadilly Circus, overlooking the buzzing Regent Street. Returning to the place where he worked at the beginning of his career in the late 80s, Tourondel offers classy dishes with a twist.
As we entered the softly lit grill room, we passed by the sushi counter and the cases in which a good variety of wine bottles were on display, well-matched with the wall of spirits at the back of the bar in the main dining space.
The elegant decorations seemed in perfect harmony with the relaxed atmosphere, owing also to the accommodating service and comfortable seating. The long wine list accompanies a detailed menu, and with both there is a common guarantee: high quality and fresh ingredients.
The drinks arrived accompanied by freshly baked popovers and British butter. The Corpse Reviver #2 would be the apt choice for lovers of citrusy flavours, with just a dash of bitter absinthe, mixed with Cocchi, gin and Cointreau. Rather the opposite was the Cherry Kiss: with a white sugar cube almost fizzing at the bottom of the glass, this concoction is sweeter, without releasing an excessive sugary aftertaste.
We began our meal with a selection from the Japanese cuisine on the left side of the menu. The tender Nigiri King Salmon gave us proof of the aforementioned excellent standard of the produce. But it was with the sushi that the chef indulged in his own original take. Our favourite pick was the Mango Alaskan King Crab: the slightly crispy seafood topped a thin layer of fruit, perfectly fusing with the avocado nestled inside the rice. The other pleasant discovery was the Crispy Wagyu Beef Nigiri, in which the more solid base and fine meaty pieces melted with the dashi and truffle aioli in gratifying mouthfuls.
Moving onto the appetisers, the first thing we noticed was the size of the portions: the servings were far larger than what you would expect from a starter.
With the Parmesan-Prosciutto Custard, the chef reached the optimal balance between the ham and the cheesy element, which were finished with a drizzle of truffle vinaigrette. Also generous was the Baby Black Kale and “Clarence Court” Poached Eggs. The single egg – though the name suggested multiple – was laid on a savoury bed of kale, lardons and wild mushrooms. With enhanced spiciness due to the ‘nduja, the Grilled Octopus found its perfect companion in the ratte potatoes and cured olives.
Surveying the second half of the menu – the portion devoted to the grill – we had a moment of great indecision. Following the suggestions from the house, we opted for the Venison Fillet on the Bone. Preserving the full taste of the meat, this main was kept simple, the cut well-roasted and set to be complemented with the diners’ sauce of choice. The earthy Al Muvedre 2016 from Alicante, punctuated by berry notes, went well with the course.
The dish which won our hearts and taste buds, though, was the Grilled King Prawns. Sourced from Scottish ports, the large crustaceans were rich in flavour and masterfully cooked.
As desserts, we ordered two rather different delicacies. The Chestnut Meringue “Mont Blanc” consisted of a hard hazelnut biscuit surmounted by a spherical meringue covered in smooth chestnut cream. This was followed by the heavenly, melt-in-the-mouth Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Croquant, the sublime ending the dinner deserved. Surrounded by liquid chocolate, the croquant and the accompanying spoonful of banana ice-cream were a guilty pleasure that enveloped us in pure bliss.
From the tasteful furnishings to the delicious ingredients served up on every plate; from the highly Instagrammable presentation of the dishes to the playful reworking of traditional recipes; Laurent at Café Royal lives up to the best expectations of fine dining while welcoming guests into a leisurely setting. In order to put the cherry on top of the experience, we would recommend a table near the window – to add that sprinkle of glamour coming from the Regent Street lights – and not to leave without at least a bite of the sweet menu.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Maria Barrios
To book a table at Laurent at Café Royal, 68 Regent Street London W1B 4DY, call 020 7406 3310 or visit their website here.