Nestled in the corner of a quiet square just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Paddington station is one of the capital’s newest restaurants – ROBA. Still in its infancy this stylish new venue promises to become a go-to destination for commuters and locals alike. Inspired by the flavour of its signature Robata Grill and a passion for British cuisine, the menu offers a wide selection of grills and British dishes alongside afternoon tea, Sunday brunch and cocktails to die for!
The decor is what hits you on entering through the swish automatic doors. The chic interiors have been designed by Tibbat’s Abel, the award-winning interior designers behind the iconic Buddha Bar in Knightsbridge. There are luxuriously comfortable chairs and custom-designed copper elements throughout the whole space. There’s a sense of stylish relaxation about the place. Relaxed enough to enjoy lounging over a long lunch, but impressive enough to host an important business meeting.
Our server Paula was quick to seat us and recommend drinks to us, and the crisp Chenin Blanc she brought over was no disappointment. Warm and friendly, Paula instantly made us feel like we were the most important diners she’d ever served. A breath of fresh air in the often impersonal London dining scene. She explained the dishes and took our order – buffalo mozzarella served with a butternut squash cream for me, and spicy chicken wings with a sticky barbecue sauce for my companion.
When the dishes were brought out we were wowed by the presentation. Just like the restaurant itself they were immaculately presented – simple and stylish. Head Chef Andrea Secchi comes from a background working with Michelin-starred Marcus Wareing at Marcus at The Berkeley and Tredwell’s, as well as at other locations including Barracuda, The Laughing Gravy and the Hotel Royal. His experience in creating food that looks as good as it tastes was evident as we tucked in.
While the selection of starters was innovative, the main courses leant more towards the traditional. The vegetarian options were either a four cheese ravioli or a vegetable lasagne, which didn’t seem so inspiring. I plumped for the latter while my guest ordered the fish pie.
Both meals were served in deep bowls sat in cute little wooden boxes and while the idea was interesting, it wasn’t very practical. Elbows end up pointing in the air as you struggle to get a knife and fork into the narrow gap, it all felt a bit clumsy. The dishes were tasty but very rich and it felt more like pub food than the innovative British cuisine we had been expecting. However, the Aioli coleslaw we ordered to accompany our mains was divine. Crunchy, crisp and packed with fresh flavour.
Having been left a little underwhelmed, but very full, by our mains, we decided to share a dessert – a dark chocolate cylinder with salted caramel mousse. And boy was that a good choice! Perfect for sharing and melt-in-the-mouth delicious.
ROBA is a promising new restaurant which could really put itself on the map, it feels like it just needs to find its identity. The upmarket interior is let down by lift music as a background noise, and while the service was second-to-none, the main courses lacked imagination and were of a lower standard than the starters, an unusual experience.
But prices are reasonable and it is still early days, so I’m sure we will return – if only to tackle the impressive cocktail menu!
- To book a table or explore the menus further, see robarestaurant.co.uk