Few people who follow the London restaurant scene can now be unaware that Quique Dacosta has opened a 'paella restaurant' in London called Arros (rice, geddit?)
Yes paella, once the only Spanish food a Brit would eat on holiday and normally done terribly at some kind of themed evening. It became almost a cliché of the Costas, ‘paella and chips twice please, Pedro’.
Valencian chef Dacosta has three Michelin stars though, so you know this is going to be a different kettle of fish.
Speaking about the opening Quique has said, “I am excited to bring part of our tradition and gastronomy to one of the most important capitals of the world. Paella is one of the best-known dishes around yet also one of the most mistreated – with this project, I am materialising a passion I have been nurturing for decades: to reinstate the rice culture from the eastern coast of Spain to its rightful home”.
Quique’s London restaurant focuses on rice in general. One of the most recognized experts in the field, his book and treaty about rice, Arroces Contemporáneos, was published in 2005.
An entire section of Arros QD’s menu is devoted to rice with dishes such as Paella Valenciana, a traditional take on the dish that includes Rabbit chop, chicken and butter beans, all cooked over a wood fire and using a variety of timbers to complement each dish.
More contemporary rice dishes, highlighting premium and seasonal UK ingredients, include “chapas” such as Wood pigeon breast, wild mushrooms, rosemary, porcini aioli.
All the rice dishes are designed to share.
The rest of the menu features innovative starters and a selection of meat, vegetable and fish mains that range from larger pieces cooked over fire or charcoal, to dishes using more vanguard techniques and elaborations.
To drink, Arros QD’s wine list pays tribute to the wines that grow around the Mediterranean Sea, focussing on organic farms, along with premium wines from the most traditional regions of the world.
The restaurant is set across two floors totalling 9000sqf and holding 140 covers, with four distinct areas including a lounge with bar seating, a more immersive chef’s paella counter and a chef’s table.
Is it any good? We'll be going in once the dust has settled to find out.
Meanwhile here's a photo taken when we went to the rice fields of Spain and had a paella cooked in a rice grower's traditional home. If Arros QD can match this, then we'll be impressed.
64 Eastcastle Street