Wednesday 11 August 2010

Indigo at One Aldwych, Covent Garden

I'm not sure how I've missed the Lobby Bar at One Aldwych, but it's quite the glam place for a drink. Who knew? It certainly beats the pants off most hotel lobby bars. Soaring ceilings, huge windows, dark oak furnishings and a cocktail list to knock your socks off. Tables are probably spaced slightly too far apart to build up a huge buzz, but perhaps this contributes to the airy feel.

After a black lavender vodka martini (with fresh blackberries and blackberry liqueur - £10.50), The Peanut Gallery and I ambled up to Indigo, the mezzanine restaurant overlooking the Lobby Bar. This is the hotel's baseline restaurant. The setting is more subdued than the bar's, and quite stylish and comfortable if a little bland and hotellish. But it's busy, even on a Monday night.

The food here - all modern European - is excellent, but can be pricey (at least if you go for the a la carte menu).

We started with a chilled tomato consumme with fresh tomato, basil, Scottish langoustines, peas, broad beans and chives - summery, tangy, sweet and fresh - absolutely gorgeous (£6.50). This was one of the most memorable dishes of the evening and was recommended to us since it was part of a seasonal tomato based menu being promoted by Indigo's big brother restaurant, Axis, at the time (there's a Mushroom Menu coming up at Axis from 23rd September and a Game Menu from 11th November). The tomato consumme still seems to be on the regular menu.

After a bit of a mix up when my scallops arrived looking rather like squid, the dish was quickly replaced, and my scallops showed up looking much more to plan. With broad beans, pea puree, pea shoots and shavings of truffle (£13.50) everything was fresh and executed well. The summer truffles were mild enough not to overpower the rest of the dish. It's difficult lately to find a scallop without a pea puree lurking nearby (and the pairing was a constant theme of Master Chef), but this was a fine version of the tried and tested combination.

My lamb with sweetbreads and kohlrabi was rich and decadent - the sort of dish that (sweetbreads aside) I really lap up (£22.50).

TPG enjoyed his roasted breast and confit leg of quail, with a quail scotch egg, cherry compote, cherries and young almonds (£12.50). Ok, so there's a glass plate and it looks a little fru fru, but there were some great flavours here and all was perfectly well executed. His steak with cherry tomatoes and flat mushrooms was less exciting but I seem to recall there was not much left on his plate in the end.

To dessert... My raspberry and lemon curd cheesecake had a thin biscuit on top of a big daub of gooey cheesecake mix with raspberries and circles of jelly on top. Loved it - even more so than TPG's fancy looking Eton mess. The meringue was slightly too chewy, but came backed up with good jelly, cream, strawberry sorbet, basil and strawberry sauce.

We left full and happy.

Pricing may be the main stalling point for some. Although there are a couple of starters for under a tenner, they're mostly around the £12 mark. To be fair, our main dishes were at the pricier end of the spectrum and there are plenty of options within the £15-£20 bracket. Nonetheless, if these prices make you baulk, then the fixed price menus for pre and post-theatre (it's handily located for the theatre district) would be a clever way to sample the fare (2 courses £16.75 and 3 courses £19.75). They also do breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.

Just don't forget to have a cocktail downstairs first (yes, yes, even if you go for breakfast).
Indigo at One Aldwych, 1 Aldwych, Covent Garden, London WC2B4 (tel: 020 7300 0400)

I dined at Indigo as a guest of the restaurant. The views expressed here are, as always, an honest account of my thoughts.

Indigo on Urbanspoon



  1. You have to feel sorry for places like Indigo, gamely ploughing away cooking decent food for years and being completely ignored by anyone outside the hotel. You can see why they've started reaching out to bloggers, and good luck to them. Looks like a pretty accomplished meal.

  2. I couldn't agree more with your point about one of the dishes being a bit Masterchef; I'd go further and say that most of these dishes look like the work of someone who's a competent cook with an eye for presentation but not necessarily any great enthusiasm for what they're doing. For example, that steak looks fine, and I love good food done simply, but it looks out of place with the other dishes and their swirls and smears and drizzles. Pick a direction and go in it, chef!

    The parsley on the quail dish is unforgiveable - note to the kicthen, the 70s called and they want their garnish back!

  3. I used to go to Indigo fairly regularly, several years ago, mainly on the pre-theatre set menu which has always been good value. I'd go to One Aldwych in the basement too, sometimes, but Indigo more often.

    I don't know why I stopped going really, I did enjoy it, but haven't been for years!

    Time for a return?

  4. Raspberry and lemon cheesecake does sound good. Glass plates - horror! Even worse than slates and wooden boards!

  5. Chris - I think eating in a hotel can be a turn off for some, unless there's a really big name chef involved. However, I'm glad this place came up on the radar - lovely food.

    Hugh - Ooh, you are harsh. You crack me up on the parsley though!

    Kavey - Actually, a couple of people have mentioned a similar thing to me now - that they used to go here, thought it was good, but just kind of forgot....

    Gourmet Chick - He he, I'm not a big one for glass plates either, but I can overlook it if the food's good.


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