What: Hotel Café Royal in Piccadilly has launched a new all-day restaurant, grill and sushi bar overseen by chef-restaurateur Laurent Tourondel.
Who: French-born Tourondel may not be a household name in the UK, but is better known in the US where he runs five restaurants - including Brasserie Ruhlmann at the Rockerfeller Centre in New York – as well as sites in Miami, and further afield in Hong Kong and Kazakhstan. Laurent is his first opening in Europe and marks a return to London for the chef, who worked weekend shifts at Café Royal and cooked at London Gentleman’s Club Boodles when he was starting out.
The vibe: The hotel has created a new first-floor restaurant after hosting residencies from the likes of Albert Adria, the Roca brothers and Paco Roncero. With 110 covers Laurent is spread across several different areas, with a main dining room and bar featuring large windows overlooking bustling Piccadilly. A separate area of booth seating puts diners eye-level with a chandelier looking down in to the newly revamped grand lobby below. Café Royal describes the space as “relaxed yet refined”, and it manages to avoid the air of stuffiness that can plague hotel dining rooms.
The menu: Grilled meat and fish is the focus here, with a choice of five sauces for each at dinner. Dishes are at the pricier end of the scale, and include a £22 Aberdeen Angus onglet, £75 Wagyu sirloin and £37 Dover sole.
A separate sushi bar serves up spicy tuna with avocado, sriracha and puffed rice (£16 for eight pieces); crispy wagyu nigiri with truffle aioli, dashi, grated daikon and wasabi (£16 for three); and raw Bluefin toro with avocado, dashi, nori salt and shiso (£22).
Laurent is also open from 7am for breakfast, which includes baked popovers with spinach, Yorkshire ham, poached eggs and truffle hollandaise (£22); to a Full English with pastries, juice and tea/coffee (£32).
And another thing: With chef Heinz Beck opening at Brown’s and Tom Kerridge’s upcoming launch at The Corinthia hotel, it’s about time Café Royale created a permanent memorable restaurant of its own.