Due to the city’s sheer size, population and diversity, it’s hard to imagine regional or national food stylings the city of London couldn’t offer. One lesser known offshoot – Basque recipes from a more niche form of Spanish cuisine — found its headquarters in the UK capital just outside Covent Garden.
Married to the One Aldwych London Hotel, a new restaurant bearing the name of Michelin Star Chef Eneko Atxa now offers a flourishing, evolving menu of small plates all influenced by Atxa’s Basque cultural upbringing. While the vibrant plating of every dish from starter to dessert hints at the familiar Spanish tapas style, the flavors are distinct and maintain their own identities beyond any understanding of traditional tapas joints.
The Basque cuisine style of Northern Spain relies on grilled fresh meat and fish, stews and other hearty comfort foods. However, the presentation at Eneko avoids heartier portions in favor of guiding the diner through a selection of smaller plates to sample varied, well-balanced flavors. Customers are invited to come in groups and order across the menu to share the experience.
Simple starters such as Suckling Pig Tempura (slow-cooked pork shoulder with bacon sauce) counter more elaborate options like Basque Duck Liver Parfait (with Txakoli wine-soaked apple compote). The Egg Yolks Tempura is perfectly delicate, while the Cauliflower in Textures serves the vegetable four ways just to show off a bit.
For the main dishes, the deep satisfaction of Slow Cooked Oxtail with Mushroom Emulsion will make everyone wish the plates were a bit larger. The Grilled Wild Salmon Filet keeps it simple and satisfying, while the Wheat Stew provides the most unique look into Basque creations. You won’t find a stew quite like it anywhere else in the world with a little truffle and egg yolk for modern flare.
Finally, Eneko makes perfect use out of that Spanish small plate tradition by providing many more taste experiences that you can pick up in a traditional restaurant. At the majority of other restaurants, the usual routine is starter, main and dessert while perhaps sampling a friend’s meal here and there. Eneko encourages a shared experience of Basque Cuisine in small bites. No one leaves hungry after trying a bite off so many tiny plates, and the variety of flavors remains a topic of conversation all night long as happy digestion commences.