Sophisticated interiors and celebrity chef cuisine – The Wordrobe’s Editor Sophie Ritchie takes Laurent at Café Royal for a taste drive
A grill and sushi bar might seem like an unusual culinary combination, but at Laurent at Café Royal, the decadence-dripping restaurant housed in the 153-year-old Hotel Café Royal, the two play well together on the menu.
Think less steak-packed maki rolls and udon topped brisket, and instead two neatly divided cuisines, coordinating together on the rather expensive menu.
Located on the hotel’s first floor, Laurent at Café Royal is a sleek, stylish affair. The menu isn’t the only thing that’s split; the space is set into a main dining room and a separate wrap-around balcony area (ideal for people watching as they strut through the entrance below, but alas, also distant from the main action).
The open space is a vast contrast to the main dining room with its backlit marble-walled bar and mirrored ceilings, conjuring a rather seductive space that comes with a suitably sultry feel.
The new opening is the first UK restaurant by chef Laurent Tourondel. Whilst he’s a fairly low-key name on UK turf, he’s big in the states – known for his popular BLT Group with a further trio of restaurants under his apron.
Back in the day, he once worked gruelling nights at the hotel – he “did the shifts no one else wanted.” Thus, it seems rather fated that he’s returned with an entire kitchen of his own.
When I visit, we’re seated in the main mirrored room, settled in with a glass of bubbly and the chance to chat with my friend. I’m a big sushi fan, but my dining companion would rather shove chopsticks in her ears… so we skip the oriental selection and I start with a simple tuna tartare.
Served in a bowl surrounded by a moat of ice, the delicate raw tuna is very pretty on the palate. It’s also petite in portion size… I wolf it down in about three bites.
For mains, my friend and I are yin and yang once more. She orders the USA Snake River Ribeye (£50) which arrives as a hefty hunk of meat. If you’re a carnivore, the menu will thrill you with its USA and Japanese selection. For me, I try the Cauliflower Couscous (£18). Vegetable carbs are a tricky disguise to master – imposter dishes are often left tasting like bland knockoff imitations.
This however, does an excellent crunchy job. The Za’atar-roasted carrots with charred aubergine purée taste delicious and it’s arranged beautifully. But the meagre portion size leaves me wanting more, which luckily arrived in the form of a watermelon-packed dessert.
Served with a zesty lemon ricotta gelato, the Watermelon & London Honey (£10) is by far the highlight of the meal. Presented like a pastry, the watermelon ‘cake’ comes topped with melon spheres and delicate, smooth gelato that creates a refreshing yet indulgent dish. And it’s bigger than my fist, too.
The Wordrobe verdict
If you’re after impressive interiors and attentive, charming service, book a table at the BLT king’s new hotel hotspot. But be wary – whilst the food will make your mouth water, the bill could do the same for your eyes too.
Make it happen
To find out more and make a booking, visit laurentatcaferoyal.com
Words by Sophie Ritchie