Sometimes I go to a restaurant having conducted a lot of research and knowing exactly what to order. And then there are times when I walk in blind with no clue as to what to expect from the food. I am left either thoroughly impressed or enormously disappointed. Black Roe in Mayfair definitely belongs to the former category.
The restaurant was founded back in 2016 by Kurt Zdesar, the creator of Ping Pong and Chotto Matte. BR specialises in cuisines and culinary approaches inspired from Asia, Japan and Hawaii, with added personal twists from the chefs. It was also one of the first places hugely credited for starting the poke revolution that has gripped the city of London today.
We had an early lunch booking but that didn’t stop us from kicking things off with a cocktail each. The house cocktails at BR are delicious. I had the exotic Spicy Mai Thai (£11.50) – El Dorado 3 rum, Gosling rum, Cointreau, chilli, almond syrup and pineapple juice. It was a vibrant and refreshing creation with a kick to it.
Kris, as always, was on a mission to find the best Negroni (£12). Here he was served a Smoky Apple version (Nikka from the Barrel whisky, Cocchi Americano, Campari, Manzana Verde, apple smoke) – a twist on the classic tipple. It was well-blended with a moderate smokiness at the start, slight bitterness from the Campari and Cocchi Americano, and finally the whiff of whisky on the way out.
I loved the interiors of Black Roe which had a glamorous masculinity about it. Taking a cue from its name, it was dark, sultry and almost mystical. There were lots of distressed wood and dark, textured surfaces. Dark grey walls contrasted with bright red and teal banquettes. My eyes were immediately drawn to the oversized monochrome portraits of farmers and fishermen that supply Black Roe, against the backdrop of rough seas and rugged landscapes, taken by celebrity photographer Seamus Ryan.
We obviously had to order the Poke which is their signature dish. I tried the Salmon Poke with Chilli Salsa (12.95), whilst Kris had the Yellowtail Poke with Spicy Garlic Salsa (£13.95). Both were superb and surprisingly filling for a pre-appetiser! I couldn’t help but notice the subtle concept behind the design of the deep bowls that looked like empty coconut shells – very clever! The poke itself was packed with raw, freshly chopped ingredients, topped with clusters of the famous black roe. It was bursting with colour, crunch and harmonious flavours. Chomping on poke, on a dull and dreary wet London day, definitely got me thinking about my next tropical beach holiday.
Onto the starters, Kris chose the Beef Tataki (£14.50). It was sublime. Light, citrusy, sharp, beautifully seared, thin shiny slivers of beef were placed artfully on a plate and studded with a singular sun-blushed tomato, parmesan crisp, salsa and micro herbs.
I was recommended the Prawn Tempura (£16.50) and was expecting a bowl of fried shrimps. Instead I got a gorgeous dish of large, heavy-duty, juicy prawns, coated in a light batter, swimming in a salty and spicy puddle. What impressed me was that they had kept the heads on. It might gross some people out but the juice from the ‘head’ really adds flavour to a seafood dish like this.
Halfway through our meal and we were already pretty impressed.
The magic continued with the mains that included a Cajun Style Blackened Sea Bass (£15.95). The warm, fleshy fish was skilfully crisped on top, presented on a mound of smoky aubergine.
My main of Octopus Aioli (£17) was a more nuanced affair – tender, charred octopus tentacles with a bit of bite, served on a bed of creamy, garlic-smothered mash, sloshed over with a strong, piquant sauce.
We ordered some Sautéed Broccoli (£4.5) and Garlic Butter Fries (£5.5) to bulk it all up.
There was no room left for dessert, which am sure would have been exemplary judging by what we had sampled so far. Our hostess, a lovely Greek lady, was calm, helpful and attentive.
Perhaps the only drawback of the whole dining experience was that the restaurant was mostly empty. Having said that, it was a rainy bank holiday Monday when most of Central London is dead so it was understandable. Not to mention, it worked well in our favour as we got the best of what Black Roe has to offer in terms of food and service!
Jokes apart, this place truly deserves a mention and some applause. The food is stunning and surpasses expectations. It is on the pricey side, but the food is so tasty that it feels value for money. It is definitely a place for a special occasion meal or an intimate, stylish date when you are in the mood to splurge.
Location: 4 Mill Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2AX
More information can be found here.
N.B. All photos and opinions are mine. I review anonymously and pay for my meals.