Black Roe is tucked away in a side street in the heart of Mayfair. It couldn’t be better located for transport and diners. This is a neighbourhood with plenty of restaurants but it is making its mark, attracting visitors who want quality food and something a little unique.
Pacific Rim cuisine is what’s offered here in this small but marvellously formed restaurant. It’s been opened by Kurt Zdesar, owner of Chotto Matte. It has seating for 60 with tables and banquettes. But it’s the décor that impressed me. Huge black and white portraits line the walls to great effect. The bar at the far end welcomes with warm amber light.
Black Roe’s key to culinary distinction is poke. That isn’t pronounced as a dig in the ribs but rather po-kay with an accent on the ‘e’. It’s basically a raw fish salad, a deconstructed sushi with garnishes and dressing. In the restaurant window there is a tapestry of poke fixin’s. It is served as a starter in Hawaii and as a main course. A large proportion of those islands’ populations are descended from Japanese so this is a Pacific Rim fusion, and has already taken the West Coast of the US by storm.
We started with Prawn and Pork Pot Stickers with chives and ponzu, a citrus-based sauce commonly used in Japanese dishes. These were perfectly-made dumplings which are both steamed and fried. They had a beautiful crisp bottom, and that delicate char gave flavour as well as texture.
A bowl of the celebrated poke was always on the cards. The “Black Roe” Ahi and Yellowtail Poke with spicy yuzu salsa was our choice from a selection of poke dishes. There was indeed some of the eponymous black roe along with cubes of the abovementioned fresh fish. The ratio of topping to rice was generous and the presentation was beautiful. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit and created a tangy dressing for both rice and fish. This is a must-try here.
Octopus Aioli with chilli salsa and coriander was the best dish of cephalopod I have had in ages. I would go as far as saying it’s one of the best dishes of any style I have enjoyed in a while. The mollusc was meaty and the sauce was outstanding. This is one of my ‘dishes of the year’ so far. Yes, I know it’s just a matter of taste but I think it’s that good! Executive Chef Jordan Sclare should be proud!
A real ‘celebration’ plate
Whole Lobster “Mac ‘N’ Cheese” is at the opposite end of the menu from the light and refreshing poke. This is a stunner and a real ‘celebration’ plate. It’s rich, flavourful, creamy with cheese and well-punctuated with chunks of lobster. It’s a visually striking dish but you will likely order it again, and not just for the picture on Instagram!
But I have pointed out that bar, and it serves some rather decent cocktails. Cherry Pistachio Sour made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, pistachio, lemon, egg white and cane syrup was deceptively mild, timid and addictive. Remember, this is actually alcoholic.
Quiet Storm with coconut cream, passion fruit, lime, lychee and apple juice with a garnish of mint was a non-alcoholic souvenir of those characterful Tiki bars in California and Hawaii of a few decades ago. This thirst-quencher was served in a bright green Tiki mug.
Black Roe is my cup of tea, it’s right up my alley …and a bunch of other superlatives. The location is perfect and the menu for both starters and main courses is an eclectic fusion that fits so well with the vibrant London restaurant scene. I’ll be back for dessert and to explore more of that cocktail menu.
12:00noon – 4:30pm, 5:30pm – 10:45pm
4 Mill Street
Phone: 020 3794 8448
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018