Every time I think the brunch scene in London couldn't get any better, someone comes along and flips the table over, turning everything upside down. This time, it's three Michelin-starred chef Eneko Atxa's newly launched Basque-style brunch at Eneko at One Aldwych that left me dazzled and awestruck.
Now, I know my reaction might sound ... I don't know, over-the-top, but let me ask you this: when did you last have perfectly seared prime rib for brunch, washed down with a chilled glass of cava? Or scrambled eggs with jamon so delightfully creamy (the eggs) and wonderfully salty (the jamon) that every bite was a pleasure?
Eneko's menu is divided into four Basque culinary styles: street food, eggs, "classics", and grill. And the same thought given to this menu was afforded to the interior decor: as guests are led down into the chamber of the main restaurant via an impressive, copper-toned staircase, each table resembles a painter's palette - and the dishes (similarly shaped), the paint.
We visited on a Saturday morning on a blustery, rainy day. But still, enough natural light trickled down into the atrium where we sat and we eagerly perused the menu while sipping a green juice (for me) and a glass of cava (for John).
But I'm going to skip to the good part and tell you what to order:
- The traditional talo for the deliciously fresh heritage tomatoes, herbs and crispy corn talo, not to mention the swoon-worthy presentation.
- The scrambled eggs with sauteed potato and jamon for its incredibly creamy texture, which tastes incredible when slathered on a crunchy piece of toasted sourdough (this was my favorite!).
- Slow-cooked oxtail on milk bread - two bites for two people to share. These little sliders nearly taste like Chinese char siu bao, with the slightly sweet, pillowy-soft buns and the savoury, rich filling.
And if you really want to push the boat out ...
- The Txuleta: Basque-style prime rib of beef with haystack fried potatoes (think: mandolin-sliced thin fries), served pink. The beef is locally sourced (less than an hour out of London, to be precise) and every bite was one to be savoured ... or washed down with a complimentary glass of Mas Macia Cava Brut, which is included in the brunch menu.
For dessert, head straight for the torrija - a traditional vanilla sponge with caramel crumble ice cream. Better yet, order an espresso to go with it - the bitterness of the coffee complements the sweetness of the milk-soaked sponge beautifully.
Chef Atxa's brunch is a treat: a sensory delight and something to be indulged in, remembered, and celebrated. If you're feeling stuck or undecided, staff are knowledgeable and eager to help guide your tastebuds, depending on your mood. Although John's prime rib looked (and tasted) out-of-this-world, I preferred the shared street food, which seemed in line with the restaurant's vision: to bring traditional, authentic Basque-style cuisine to be shared amongst friends and family around the table.
To me, this newly launched brunch menu at Eneko represents something so much greater than the once-feted minimalism of avocado-on-toast or pancakes and bacon. The food speaks for itself; and the statement is louder than ever.
The brunch menu at Eneko at One Aldwych is available on Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. We were guests of Eneko at One Aldwych. All opinions are my own.