Restaurant Review: ROKA Aldwych, Covent Garden in London
Brunch at ROKA Aldwych is kind of a big deal I’m told. Ten minutes past the midday hour and we’re the first to arrive to this so called brunching spectacle. The expression ‘it’s 5 o‘clock somewhere’ is dead when it comes to alcohol consumption at brunch, and this is certainly true of ROKA Aldwych’s Han Setto Weekend Brunch. Perching ourselves along the long marble bar we order some feminine and fruity cocktails laden with strawberries, passion fruit, ice and fizz to ease us in. ROKA’s truly endless brunch menu is no less than one of the most indulgent for a Saturday morning. Satisfactorily seated at our table, aside from the show kitchen beside us, we were informed of the ten small plate starters that would be showcased, alongside the lemon belinis which we sipped warily.
All designed for sharing, don’t hold your breath here… we began with edamame, vegetable pickles, a selection of sashimi – beautifully presented on a bed of ice, raw salmon with avocado and wasabi tobiko, crispy prawn and avocado and then potato salad with bacon and egg (more of a European dish than expected), beef, ginger and sesame dumplings (which we ordered more of), assorted vegetables and prawn tempura. Whoever came up with this momentous starter selection clearly wasn’t in a rush to get anywhere fast! ‘White or red wine Madam’ asked the waiter patiently as my face dropped in surprise, ‘white please’ we replied, looking at our watches; this is no sober affair.
Main courses are from the robata or main kitchen and after the indulgence to start we were given our first decision of the day in choosing one each. The robata was flaming some tantalizing looking baby ribs which the waiter quickly continued with recommending. Glazed with cashew nuts I was pleased with my choice, and the fact I didn’t need to share. In contrast my guest chose tai no miso-yaki (sea bream fillet, ryotei miso and red onion), their most popular fish dish. By this time we were a good few hours in and the room and tables around us had rapidly filled with a mix of clientele, many who looked like they were regulars; glamorously polished for this lengthy brunching event.
Dessert was also performance in itself and something we couldn’t help eyeing up on our neighbour’s tables. The ROKA Dessert Platter is more for show than I believe anything else. A platter on a huge bed of ice is an array of exotic fruits, flavoured ice, sorbets, chocolate ‘soil’ and a cleverly designed and extremely detailed chocolate powdered Buddha. This is a definite continuation of the extravagance from start to the finale of this Japanese performance. Leaving ROKA from within their dim lighting (which led us to believe it could have been much later in the day than it in fact actually was), we left the Japanese restaurant and into the bright daylight almost like blinded rabbits in the headlights. In an alcohol infused haze, we satisfactory linked arms and wandered what on earth do we now do with the remainder of our day? We retired home to recover and gloat over our glamorous brunch experience on Instagram.
The ROKA Aldwych brunch costs £55 per person with red and white wine pairings served throughout the meal. Guests can also opt for the Han Setto brunch at £39, served without alcohol, (if you actually have somewhere to be afterwards!) For a similar brunching experience, ROKA in Canary Wharf, if anyone is ever there on the weekend? Offers dishes for guests to sample at their own choice. Bellini or Bloody Mary upon arrival, with a similar wine pairing throughout the meal, moving on to enjoy a selection of the restaurant’s signature dishes. The ROKA Canary Wharf brunch is served from 11.30am – 3.30pm on Saturdays and 11.30am-8pm on Sundays. Prices start from £45 per person with the Koten Brunch, £55 for the Puremiamu Brunch and £65 for the Tokusen Brunch.
Address: 71 Aldwych, London WC2B 4HN, Phone: 020 7294 7636 / rokarestaurant.com/home-aldwych