In the heart of Piccadilly, Hotel CafÃ© Royal is really hitting its stride as of late. Theyâ€™ve ditched the restaurant in the entrance which has transformed the lobby into a beautiful space. There’s transformation afoot upstairs too. Gone is the members club and an old event space has turned into Laurent.
Exec chef Laurent Tourondel has created a menu which focuses on sushi and steak. Panic not, this ainâ€™t no fusion restaurant, it just specialises in both and does them exceptionally well, all in a small and sexy dining room with a mirrored ceiling and tall, well-lit bar.
First up is a cheesy Yorkshire pudding – a better start to a meal most likely doesnâ€™t exist. Itâ€™s light and fluffy with a chewy, cheesy crust; pure hangover heaven.
Sushi is as good as any Japanese restaurant specialising in the stuff. Gin cured salmon California rolls (Â£14) and yellowtail rolls topped with jalapeÃ±o and ginger (Â£14) are fresh and vibrant mouthfuls. Dousing it all in copious amounts of soy and wasabi might make the snobs eye roll (sushi purists say you need neither) but itâ€™s just how I like it.
Crispy beef wagyu nigiri (Â£16) sees plump quenelles of just-cooked wagyu and a slice of truffle atop McDonaldâ€™s breakfast hash browns – or so they taste. The result is crisp, salty, fatty, meaty indulgence. Yes please.
For main, the USA Snake River rib eye (Â£50) comes drenched in melted butter. As with all American meat itâ€™s sweet and subtle in flavour with glorious fat. CafÃ© Royal bearnaaise (Â£4) and salt and vinegar chips (Â£5), cooked so many times theyâ€™re pure CRUNCH, are exquisite companions.
It might seem strange to get so excited about a stack of onion rings (Â£5) but these are worthy of such emotion. They’re huge, just look at them. I didn’t know onions could be that big. And the batter is so light and crunchy.
Wagyu beef short rib (Â£42) sees one giant bone with beef that just slides off. Itâ€™s not all soft and squishy though, some retains texture, some is pure fat, but the whole thing is delicious. A side of hen of the wood mushrooms (Â£5) remind me of breakfast at Moor HallÂ where I fell in love with them.
Desserts are fine. Nothing wrong with them and both are wolfed down but theyâ€™re not indulgent. Coconut meringue and wild strawberry (Â£14) is light as air and watermelon with grapefruit and london honey (Â£10) is a posh bowl of refreshing fruit salad.
Sushi and steak is my ideal dinner and it makes perfect sense for a hotel restaurant. Best of all, the kitchen has mastered both – the result is something quite special. Throw in some passionate service (it’s quite a front of house team) and you’re onto a winner.
Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guests of the restaurant