The One Aldwych hotel previously had Axis as its flagship dining room, but from September 2016 this transitioned to Eneko, a collaboration with Eneko Atxa of 3 Michelin star Azurmendi. The head chef is Edurne Martín Delgado, who has worked with Eneko Atxa since 2006. She is supported by Alice Serafini, who heads the pastry section, and has also worked at Azurmendi.
The dining room is a slightly tricky space, being a basement, but the designers have done a pretty good job of making it seem reasonably spacious, despite fitting in 110 diners at capacity. The menu is a la carte, with the most expensive main course was only £17. The food style is much less ambitious than at Azurmendi – more casual and simple.
The short (31 label) wine list was all Spanish except for a few champagnes. It includes four labels from Eneko Atxa’s uncle’s winery, Gorka Izagirre. Prices ranged from £28 to £350, with bottles such as Bodegas Baigorri Crianza 2012 at £42 compared to its retail price of £16, Dominio de Atauta Parada 2013 at £55 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £16, and Rioja Alta Cirsion 2011 at £350 for a bottle that will set you back £156 in a shop.
Anchovies were deep-fried and had blobs of aioli, with a separate dip of mayonnaise with tomato powder. The batter was very thick but the anchovies had plenty of flavour. The dip was fine though the aioli could have had a lot more garlic kick, at least to my taste (12/20). I preferred a crispy corn talo (a kind of tortilla) with heritage tomatoes and a basil mousse, cress, olive oil globules flavoured with truffle oil and black olive powder, the whole thing decorated with edible flowers. The talo was suitably crisp and the tomatoes (sourced from a mix of the UK, Spain and France) had quite good flavour, and the basil was a logical complement; I am not sure what the olive oil added but this was a nice dish overall (14/20).
A pair of further flour crisps was each topped with asparagus strips, a fried egg, onion and piquillo peppers. This was a pleasant enough idea, though I cannot imagine where the asparagus came from at this time of year, and it was unsurprisingly lacking in flavour (12/20).
Roasted Iberico presa (a cut attached to the shoulder, near the loin) came with wheat in chickpea sauce and garlic cream. This was cooked medium rare and had reasonable flavour, but the overall effect was very rich. It did come with some mash, but it was crying out for something acidic like a salad with some sharp dressing (12/20). What it did not need was a plate of overcooked vegetables, but that is what I ended up with: cauliflower was decent if under-seasoned, but carrots and broccoli were cooked for much too long, and white asparagus tempura lacked flavour (10/20).
For dessert, a cherry cheesecake was pleasant, with reasonable texture and decent fruit flavour (12/20). This was much better than “tortija”, brioche with custard that was deep fried and then rolled in sugar. Our waiter optimistically said that this was "Lighter than it sounds". It wasn’t, and was not helped by an unidentified ice cream that suffered from ice crystals, a bizarre technical slip in these days of ice cream making machines (9/20).
Coffee was from Union Coffee and was very good, as well it might be at an absurd £5 for a double espresso. Service was excellent, our English waiter helpful and friendly. The bill came to £85 each, and this is a pretty realistic cost per head even if you went for a modest bottle of wine. Overall, this was clearly early days, but there was greater inconsistency than I would have hoped for in the dishes. The menu is interesting and the service was slick, but although there were some nice dishes there were also some significant problems. At this price point everything needs to work like clockwork.