Wine pairing: rip-off or revelation? I’ve never been entirely sure. But, over a long lunch at the revamped Roux at the Landau, I decide to give it another try.
This turns out to be one of my better dining decisions. For not only has the Roux been rethought and refit, it’s emerged from its cocoon with a longer wine list. What’s more, all 535 varieties on offer are now available by the glass, thanks to its use of Coravin cork manipulators. With such space-age tools at his disposal, our sommelier puts in a virtuoso matinee performance, his selections working their magic on the dishes set before us — starting with an appley Czech Pálava that coaxes out the shy flavours of white asparagus and porchetta, and finishing with a Tokaji that makes my matcha mousse worthy of song.
Of course, this isn’t all that’s new — there’s a sleek new marble counter, set up for light meals, that’s laden with shellfish and charcuterie (or, as the menu puts it, ‘from the ice’ and ‘from the slice’); and a golden, floor-to-ceiling cheese cabinet, positioned at the end of the dark entrance corridor like a set of celestial gates.
The food, meanwhile, remains classical, with a French accent, and while our mains are full of flair and flavour — petite lamb chops enlivened with ras el hanout; perfectly cooked Cornish cod — they’re pleasantly upstaged by the starters, not least the stracciatella and mozzarella sorbet, a delectable puddle of cool savoury cream encircled by a tricolour moat of fresh tomatoes. On its own, it’s delicious enough. However, no doubt greedy for praise, our sommelier pops up with a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that brings an aroma of green tomatoes to the table, and tears of joy to my eyes. It’s a combination that stays on my mind for days afterwards.
As for the reimagined interiors, well, that famous, lofty oval dining room has never looked better. That said, I’m not entirely convinced by the central booths, which, although certainly pleasing to the eye, position you almost back to back with other diners. This isn’t a problem if you’re neighbours are cut from your specific cloth, but less ideal if they expect silence with their lamb. But this is merely a minor snag — certainly nothing a well-chosen glass of wine won’t fix.
Five-course set menu with wine, £120 per person (or £145 with Coravin wine).