It’s become a bit of a family tradition to celebrate my birthday at Roka, Charlotte Street, having done so for the past 3 years and doing so again in just over a week (don’t worry, I am going to spare you from another review!).
Seeing how fond I am of this tradition and my favourite London restaurant, it felt only natural to treat some of my closest friends to the same experience for their birthdays.
And with the Roka, Aldwych Han Setto brunch offer, usually very well-priced at £55pp for a welcome bellini, unlimited prosecco/wine, 10 sharing starters, a main course each and the ROKA dessert platter, available on Timeout for an ABSOLUTE STEAL of just £30pp + service, I didn’t blink twice before jamming my credit card details into the site and setting a date.
I told Josie, Hannah and Sophie to meet me outside The Delaunay, just to throw them off the scent.
I picked them up on foot and fed them a number of possibilities as to what our celebratory afternoon was to entail, starting with a historical bus tour of London, to which Hannah actually feigned excitement, which I thought made her a pretty good friend (and an even better liar).
Though she did look much more enthused when I halted outside Roka and announced that we had arrived at our destination.
As promised, bellinis were delivered and birthday’s toasted to.
Two bowls of perfectly steamed & salted edamame followed suit shortly after.
And then began the onslaught of sharing starters.
Baby spinach leaves with sesame dressing.
One of my favourite dishes as the fresh spinach leaves make it very light and ‘healthful’, whilst the nutty sesame dressing makes it impossible to stop going back for more.
The tomato salad with shiso and hijiki dressing was another flavoursome, colourful dish.
The sashimi platter containing the chef’s selection of the day was beautifully presented.
Thick-cut slithers of fine salmon, tuna and seabass hit the spot perfectly, and I must say that I think the separation of the fish from the ice is a much better way of preserving the fish’s delicate flavour, versus how the sashimi is served at Chotto Matte.
The potato salad with bacon and egg wasn’t something that I’d order again myself, but it was certainly edible.
And who doesn’t love bacon bits?
The assorted vegetable and prawn tempura is one of my favourite dish’s at Roka, and when I sampled the deep-fried goodness I quickly remembered why.
The batter is thin, light and crisp, with the accompanying mild dipping sauce just the right balance of sweet & sour.
I love me a good maki, and the raw salmon, avocado and wasabi, and crispy prawn and avocado maki are two of my usual orders. Needless to say, they didn’t touch the sides.
The beef, ginger and sesame dumplings are always a freaking delight at Roka, and this was no exception.
I actually prefer these to the more expensive black cod, crab and crayfish dumplings (still delicious, don’t be fooled) on the menu.
I think it’s fair to say that we were suitably well fed at this point. Perfectly content.
Yet we were only starters down!
Taking a short prosecco-oriented break, we prepared ourselves for the treats yet to come.
For mains we each chose a dish that we all liked, so that they everything could be shared.
The orders of the day included the baby chicken, lemon, miso and garlic soy.
Initially a choice that I wasn’t overjoyed about (I have a thing against ordering chicken in restaurants… boooooooooring), it was absolutely immense.
Unbelievably tender (to the point that it was hard to believe it was chicken) with delicious contrasting char and the most moreish marinade.
I chose the beef sirloin with chili and spring onion as I’ve not tried it at Roka before, and was not at all disappointed.
Juicy meat cooked perfectly rare with an insane side sauce.
The glazed baby back ribs with cashew nuts was perhaps the least successful of our main dishes as, although I usually really like and order this dish, the ribs were lacking in meat which resulted in them being quite chewy.
Though the sea bream fillet with ryotei miso and red onion got a massive thumbs-up all round. The fish was juicy & flaky, and even more delicious dunked in the pot of miso sauce (which is usually served with the black cod) that I requested on the side.
We were all in food heaven/comas, and having the most wonderful afternoon catching up on each other’s recent happenings.
The only thing that could possibly have made it better would be the arrival of a ROKA dessert platter.
It wasn’t even my birthday and my wish came true…
The work of art arrived ablaze for my 3 birthday girls to blow out their candles; a nice touch.
Fire extinguished it was spoons at the ready and a survival of the fittest (/fastest) whilst we tucked in to the signature dark chocolate and green tea pudding with crunchy jivara and pear ice-cream; crème brulee with cherry blossom ice-cream and sesame biscuit; all kinds of yummy exotic fruits; ice-creams & sorbets; chocolate truffles; and my personal favourite of the bunch, the peanut, vanilla and chocolate sundae with sesame poki sticks (MY GOD it’s SO GOOD).
And let’s not forget the infamous chocolate Buddha, which leaked a sensational river of fruity mango when we dissected his belly.
Basically, the dessert of dreams.
And 4 very happy ladies.
The Roka Han Setto brunch is incredible value on a normal day, but literally day-light robbery if you’re able to get your hands on the Timeout offer.
The only thing that I would say, though, is that the service wasn’t as good as it should have been and usually is (understandably as they had a full house of demanding brunchers on their hands), which meant that my prosecco glass stood empty a number of times which never makes me a happy bunny.
It’s also worth noting that the “unlimited alcohol” stops once dessert is served, so get ‘em to pop a bottle before you let that platter arrive! Luckily our waiter let us off but it’s always good to share the inside knowledge.
Food finished and prosecco drained, but very much in a party mood, we decided to move our little soiree to the bar area to continue with celebratory cocktails.
And a cheeky Maitre Choux éclair!
I loved every minute of the Roka Han Setto brunch and fun time with my girls, and couldn’t recommend the experience more highly!