* Since going to press, head chef Daniel Cox has announced his decision to leave Parliament Square
Continuing to nurture culinary talent, Michel Roux Jnr has enlisted 2008 Roux Scholar Daniel Cox as head chef at this new restaurant venture in London's Westminster. Janie Stamford reports
Expectations are no doubt high at Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jnr's first new restaurant venture outside Le Gavroche, to which he has attached his family's proud culinary name. While gastronomy lovers should not expect a carbon copy of the legendary Mayfair restaurant - to do so may be disappointing - an anticipation of the same standards of quality will be handsomely rewarded.
Roux at Parliament Square is a collaboration between Roux Jnr and Restaurant Associates, the fine-dining division of contract caterer Compass Group. As the name suggests, it is located in Westminster, housed within the Georgian Grade II-listed Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors building.
Consistent with Roux Jnr's precedent of nurturing culinary talent, 2008 Roux Scholar Daniel Cox has been tasked with running the show as head chef, an opportunity the young chef relishes.
"You couldn't get a better mentor than Michel," he says.
Cox has the full support of Roux-trained front-of-house staff, with Alain Mara and Johan Brouckaert fulfilling the roles of general and restaurant manager respectively.
Sommelier John Baum is responsible for a diverse 250-strong collection of wines from both the New and Old Worlds, many of which were selected by and bear the label of Albert Roux.
The restaurant seats 56 in the Dining Room, the Drawing Room and the Library, which is available for private functions for up to 10 people; while, upstairs, guests can enjoy lighter bites, including oysters, salads and charcuterie in the Bar, which seats 30.
Where Le Gavroche can be described as opulent and classic, Roux at Parliament Square is more contemporary: shades of grey and aubergine aim to balance the heritage of the building with modern design - an ambition also reflected in the menu.
Cox describes his culinary style as seasonal British food comprising classic combinations presented in a clean way, which absolutely stems from timeless Roux cooking.
"I'm trying to perfect the technique behind it as much as possible so that, while it looks relatively simple, the food has been quite worked behind the scenes," he explains.
Diners can choose between an eight-course tasting menu at £65 and the à la carte, priced at £55 for three courses, which offers a selection of six starters, six mains and six desserts.
One of the menu's best-selling dishes - and one of Cox's favourites - is a starter of confit salmon with dressed crab rolled in a crab jelly, served with cucumber, samphire, horseradish crème fraîche and chef's home-grown nasturtium leaves. "I approached the whole menu with a sense of Roux, but the salmon is more me than anyone else," he says. "It's a privilege to be able to put down my own stamp at a Roux restaurant."
Other starters include warm Secretts Farm asparagus served with a soft, oozy gull's egg and morel butter; and marinated English hothouse tomatoes with Ragstone goats' cheese and black olive toast.
A main course of John Dory fillet is complemented by caramelised chicory and accompanied by a smooth spiced polenta delicately flavoured with orange, while tenderloin and belly of Gloucester Old Spot pork nestles among glazed heritage carrots and mustard gnocchi.
Dessert options include delicate caramelised apple crème mousseline served with a flavour-packed green apple and tarragon sorbet; and a popular passion fruit soufflé with nougatine, white chocolate and rum sorbet.
In addition, guests are treated to a number of complimentary elements: a glass of Champagne on arrival (Gosset Grande Réserve rosé was available); canapés (poached salmon on horseradish gnocchi), an amuse-bouche, (scallops and oysters in a lemony butter emulsion) and a pre-dessert (strawberry sorbet with strawberry panna cotta).
Cox describes the restaurant's target market as very broad, "while you'd think it would be mainly the guys down the road", he says, referring to Parliament.
"It's just a coincidence that we're located where we are. But we are expecting them to be a part of our clientele."
• Roux at Parliament Square, 11 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AD
Tel: 020 7334 3737
What's on the menu
• Butter-poached langoustine, Jabugo ham, pea mousse, baked white onion
• Roast royal quail, pickled radish, hazelnut, pomegranate
• Sauté of Landes foie gras, outdoor rhubarb, pistachio crumble
• Roast saddle of Lune Valley lamb, Jersey Royals, violet artichoke, tongue salad
• Poached halibut, razor clam, fennel, girole and Muscat
• Violet artichoke barigoule, wild nettle and ricotta agnolotti
• Jasmine custard, caramelised brioche, apricot compote
• Organic lemon tart, yogurt sorbet, early English raspberries
• Amedei chocolate mousse, maple syrup, caramel foam, banana sorbet