Working Lunch review: Roux at Parliament Square
Named after its patron Michel Roux Jr, this formerly fusty French fine-dining stalwart in Westminster was given a makeover last year to reflect the shiny fame of its current head chef, Steve Groves.
After jaunts at a string of Michelin-starred restaurants, Groves joined the staff after winning Masterchef: The Professionals in 2009 and then graduated to the top job in 2013.
What’s the deal? Three courses at lunchtime for £42, with coffee and petits fours, but without drinks. With four options for each course, there’s a relatively good amount of choice, but the cheese selection will rack up an extra £7. Zut alors.
What should I pick? If you’re not going veggie; crab, mackerel or pork cheek to start and a choice of duck, cod and venison for the mains. We went for a Dorset crab, amassed into a circular disk on top of a savoury dashi gel, refreshed by zingy slices of apple on top, while a mere hint of fermented chilli adds some smokey tones. The voluptuous venison followed, with both crispy and floppy savoy cabbage covering a cubed wonderland of pine and bacon lardons. Wintry, rich and robust in every way.
Is it veggie friendly? There’s one veggie starter and one veggie main on the set menu. First up you’ve a black truffle speckled celeriac sausage hiding inside a dark hedge of crispy kale, with encircling blobs of goats’ cheese and quince jelly all around. The main is a gnudi dish – a lighter, fluffier variant of gnocchi that’s made from ricotta – with smoky Hen of the Woods mushrooms, dabbed with an inky black ‘shroom reduction and criss crossed with salsify. Beneath it you discover an egg yolk goop, which gives the dish the air of mopping up after an English breakfast.
Room for dessert? The chef might not openly admit it, but the sea salt caramel tart is definitely inspired by those Rolo yoghurts you get down Sainsburys, and the Guanaja chocolate, with its delicate banana and peanut layers, is essentially a fruity Snickers bar with some Rice Krispies on top. We’re not knocking it – these are winning formulas and cracking desserts.
Could I do it in an hour? Amuses bouche and petits fours will keep you at your table a little ways into your afternoon, but this isn’t the kind of place you’ll want to hurry out of.
The verdict… A comforting menu awaits at Roux at Parliament Square. New décor and a renewed focus on texture has allowed it to shed some of its former seriousness and bask in its glorious location.