Arros QD in Fitzrovia: Bold Spanish cuisine and larger-than-life paellas
Described as one of the new leaders of avant-garde cuisine in Spain, three-Michelin-starred chef Quique Dacosta has brought his passion for paella and wood-fired cooking to the streets of Fitzrovia with Arros QD. The restaurant boasts an impressive interior which is the work of designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán. With moody, dark-tiled walls, immaculate timber flooring, opulent chandeliers, a monumental six-metre woodfire stove and a lively open kitchen where visitors can spy on the chefs hard at work, the scene was well and truly set.
The menu – inspired by the ancient trade routes from Africa, Asia and the Iberian Peninsula – focuses on contemporary re-imaginings of traditional Mediterranean dishes made with seasonal British ingredients. There is also a selection of delicious cocktails and classic wines from around the world, as well as some little-known varieties that can’t be found anywhere else in London.
To start, we had the kale citrus salad with mixed Valencian fruits, a three-tomato dressing and nuts. Though adorned with a pretty floral ensemble, the appetiser quickly proved it wasn’t just decorative as it burst with fresh, tangy flavours and sharp, earthy tones. We also had the grilled asparagus with charcoal chilli sauce, burrata and almonds. This was a favourite dish of the meal as it blended sweet, nutty tastes with smooth, creamy textures. Following this was the wood-grilled baby gem which was light, refreshing and had a satisfying crunch. The spicy kimchi dressing added a little heat, giving this plate a pleasantly surprising twist. The braised cauliflower, garam masala, hazelnut praline and red chilli was another delight – a hearty and rich vegetable combination that packed a punch with warm spices. Next up were the Mediterranean red prawns. Dramatically served on a bed of charcoal, these were wonderfully sweet and seasoned to perfection; simplicity at its best.
These plates were accompanied by a couple of cocktails – the Las Ramblas made with Gin Mare, thyme syrup, lemon juice and EVO oil and the Cereza made with Bacardi Carta Blanca, Heering cherry liqueur, Noilly Prat vermouth and Orujo Blanco. Another highlight was the Charcoal Iberian Presa. Blackened on the outside before revealing pink, tender, juicy meat inside – it’s one of the only pieces of pork that can be eaten like this. It was served with a Jerusalem artichoke purée, which was beautifully indulgent with its caramelised finish.
Then arrived the moment we had been waiting for: a larger-than-life dish of paella was placed on our table. As we were taking in what lay before us, delicious aromas of Basque cod and pil-pil emulsion emanated from the platter. The inky rice was indulgently creamy and punctuated with salty fish and sweet, crisp sugar snap peas. Overall it was a magnificent paella that stayed true to its authentic roots. It was accompanied by a crisp and brilliantly tart glass of the Le Charnay Cuvée Menetou-Salon Blanc 2017.
For dessert there was a deconstructed cheesecake with forest fruit syrup, biscuit ice cream and almond paper. Each layer was more succulent than the last. A loaded spoonful of each decadent component was the only way to savour this incredible finale.
Although we came for the paella, the other dishes were by no means unexceptional. In fact, we were highly impressed by the variety of mouth-watering plates on offer – each stealing the limelight in their own charming ways – including many vegetarian choices. Arros QD is a must-visit for anyone after bold Spanish cuisine that is full of life.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Alex Julie Woods
Photos: Cristiana Ferrauti
To book a table at Arros QD, 64 Eastcastle Street London W1W 8NQ, call 020 3883 3525 or visit their website here.