In the heart of Piccadilly, Hotel Café Royal is really hitting its stride as of late. They’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 ain’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 doesn’t exist. It’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 (£14) and yellowtail rolls topped with jalapeño and ginger (£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 it’s just how I like it.
Crispy beef wagyu nigiri (£16) sees plump quenelles of just-cooked wagyu and a slice of truffle atop McDonald’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 (£50) comes drenched in melted butter. As with all American meat it’s sweet and subtle in flavour with glorious fat. Café Royal bearnaaise (£4) and salt and vinegar chips (£5), cooked so many times they’re pure CRUNCH, are exquisite companions.
It might seem strange to get so excited about a stack of onion rings (£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 (£42) sees one giant bone with beef that just slides off. It’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 (£5) remind me of breakfast at Moor Hall where I fell in love with them.
Desserts are fine. Nothing wrong with them and both are wolfed down but they’re not indulgent. Coconut meringue and wild strawberry (£14) is light as air and watermelon with grapefruit and london honey (£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