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Flavour Paradise at Black Roe, Mayfair

July 6, 2018

Restaurants & Bars | by Baldwin Ho

Pacific Rim cuisine has traditionally been criminally underserved in London bar the casual dining poké bars for a grab and go lunch. The opening of Black Roe in 2016 by esteemed restaurateur, Kurt Zdesar meant there was an option for Londoners to sample the riches of Pacific Rim cuisine without being treated like a pauper in a fast food joint.

The decor has been a curiously hit-and-miss affair. I’ve always appreciated their moody grey walls and distressed furniture with worn wood and leather, but the restaurant had been worryingly quiet on my previous two visits. Perhaps, diners were not quite getting their bold concept, as they proudly display giant portraits of their food suppliers on their walls. However, on my most recent visit, they had a splendid floral display worthy of being exhibited at the Chelsea Flower Show and the restaurant was a hive of activity with not a spare seat to be seen. I have heard rumours they will be keeping a floral display throughout the year but changing it for the different seasons.

On previous visits, I’ve found the food to be rather citrusy and lacking in subtlety; but there were more light and shade with their new menu especially the Pacific paradise set menu. The Aloha cocktail that came with the menu was particularly refreshing with the ubiquitous Tanqueray 10 gin and exciting flavours like grapefruit juice, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, yuzu juice, peach and prosecco foam.

The freshness of their seafood shone through brightly with dishes like tuna tacos and yellowtail poké and the exotic flavours were very winsome with mango and guacamole for the former and spicy garlic dressing for the latter. Langoustine and scallop ceviche was of a similarly high-quality provenance but was presented on an oversized plate where they’ve placed around 4 scallops when the plate could have enough space for a well-portioned Sunday roast.

Their main seafood dish was steamed mussels in a rich, fragrant coconut broth; it had warm, inviting flavours and offered a varied facet to their menu which sometimes can be very citrus-focused. Although the small-sized mussels meant it was a very fiddly dish to finish off, perhaps they might consider using the larger-sized mussels from the Pacific Ocean?

The meat dishes were solid additions to the set menu if somewhat small in portion size. Four prawn and pork gyozas felt more like an amuse-bouche, but tasty nevertheless with a ponzu sauce whilst Wimea’n sticky lamb best end had an inviting, sweet barbeque sauce that rivals the best of what the southern states in the US can offer but the portion was on the meagre side.

Portions might be small for some of the courses, but that is probably because the kitchen team wanted to save room for desserts and they not only dazzle you with one option but pineapple crème brûlèe AND warm churros. They might have to work on some of their dishes, but all in all, it’s a welcome sight to see their restaurant busy and the fact they are prepared to branch out in unexpected directions.

For more information on Black Roe see here.

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