London's Black Roe restaurant is making a name with its take on 'poke', the Hawaiian take on sushi that's creating a bit of a buzz. Rosie Paterson tried it out.
Hot on the heels of smashed avocado, small plates and artisan doughnuts, is poke, London’s latest foodie obsession. Pronounced ‘poe-kay,’ it’s essentially deconstructed sushi and hails from the shores of far-flung Hawaii. And it’s highly addictive.
Black Roe, in Mayfair, has specialised in this Pacific import since it opened, just over two years ago. Its piece de resistance? An open poke counter at the very front of the restaurant.
To make way for that poke counter, incidentally, the bar has been relegated to the back, though it can still rustle up a fantastic cocktail (try the yuzu grapefruit collins, for a tropical twist on the gin-based classic.)
Sandwiched between the bar and counter you’ll find artfully distressed leather banquettes and chairs, bare wooden tables and a ceiling carpeted in colourful, Lei-inspired blooms.
Eye-catching black and white portraits of fisherman-whose produce fill the plates-line the walls. It’s your own little (luxury) slice of verdant Hawaii, in the midst of the urban jungle.
Thanks to executive chef Jordan Sclare, there’s also a brand new Pacific Paradise tasting menu, for the summer season. Courses include the to-be-expected fresh fish – think tuna tacos and langoustine and scallop ceviche – as well as barbeque-style lamb, cooked over a Kiawe wood grill.
Plates from the main menu are designed to be shared, but you’ll want to keep a bowl of classic ahi poke – marinated, chopped tuna on a bed of seasoned short-grain rice – all to yourself. It came out top in our very serious poke taste-test, beating the other seven varieties, and is worth returning for alone.
Moving down the menu, skip the lighter fish options for crispy squid – devastatingly moreish, a serious compliment coming from someone who normally steers clear of squid and its oft rubbery cousin, octopus – and a whole lobster, stuffed with gooey mac n’ cheese – incredibly indulgent and the pinnacle of comfort food.
There are also myriad meat and vegetarian options – try the sweet and sour Japanese aubergine – for the ocean-wary.
The icing on the cake? Black Roe is wonderfully cool and dimly lit – just what we need if the sun continues to shine throughout the summer, as has been promised. I can’t think of anywhere better to celebrate.
Black Roe, Mayfair, London W1S 2AX – for booking and information see www.blackroe.com or call +44 (0) 20 3794 8448