Test Drives

roomThe new look for Rondo - with the impressive wine wall at the end. 

What can you tell us about Rondo?

It's the main restaurant at the Hoxton Hotel in Holborn. This group of hotels had a hit on their hands with Seabird in Southwark and now they've revamped the restaurant in Holborn, bringing in Will Lander of Quality Chop House fame to lead the change. In the kitchen is Chris Gillard, who has years of St John under his belt and more recently a well-reviewed stint at EartH Kitchen in Hackney. 

Where is it?

The Hoxton is about a 2-3 minute walk from Holborn tube, right next door to the classic Princess Louise pub. If you're after a pint before or after your meal, that's a pretty good place to go. 

How has the room changed?

Before there were apparently more communal tables - that's obviously a thing of the past for the forseeable future, so the whole room has had something of an upgrade - from the newly tiled floor to the wall of wine at the back (we'll get back to that in a bit). From a Covid perspective, sanitiser is on hand as you go into the restaurant and the tables are well spaced - and you'll find the menu on your phone via a QR code (you can also read the menus here).

What kind of food can we expect?

Given the chef, it's a seasonal menu with a focus on sustainable ingredients - and you can expect it to evolve over the coming weeks (we've heard that a homage to the St John mince on toast may be making an appearance). Here's what we had on the night:

roomAubergine Tempura, Harissa (£4) - snacking food.

roomPork & Duck Rillettes (£3) - these were really very good and served warm. A must-order. 

roomRoast Cauliflower, Chicory & Sunflower (£7) - very nicely pitched salad.

roomCrispy Pig’s Cheek, Roast Shallots & Watercress (£8) - an excellent starter, studded with perfectly crispy bits of pig throughout. 

roomGriddled Grey Mullet, Tomato, Fennel & Aioli (£19)

roomTamworth Pork Chop, Bobby Beans & Chutney (£20) - a lovely piece of pork but with maybe a touch too much of a sous-videness to it - a little more fire applied to this would really improve things.

And dessert?

It's definitely worth holding back some room for these (or the Baron Bigod cheese that's also on the menu). We had...

roomApple Tarte Tatin (£8) - it doesn't look too beautiful but those apples are perfectly caramelised.

roomChocolate Mousse Cake & Pistachio Ice Cream (£9) served with nut brittle - just lovely.

So what about the wine?

This is where Will Lander takes the lead, so there's plenty to recommend here. The main wine list is pretty accessible even if you have only a passing knowledge of wine, with headings like "Food-friendly- rich, expressive and big" or "Summer Juice - crisp, light and full of sunshine" - so that should definitely help you on your way to something decent. We actually stayed with the wines on tap section, with an excellent Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Blanco 2018 Godello (£28 cafafe/£40 bottle) but the house, Grecanico, Domus, Terre Siciliane, 2017 (£24) is also well worth a try. 

If you're feeling a little more adventurous, then you'll be heading for the reserve wine list, where the vintage wines are hosted (along with tasting notes). Here's where you'll find a Isole e Olena ‘Cepparello’ 2016 for £230 a bottle. 

Anything else to highlight?

If you're in the lobby bar, there is a small menu of focaccia sandwiches and snacks (which includes the excellent rillettes). There, the Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad Toastie (£8) and the Crispy Chicken Skewers & Aioli (£7) would be well worth a try.

Overall thoughts

We'll look at Rondo as a very promising work in progress. There are moments of excellence on the menu, but maybe a little balancing work is needed to bring out the best in some of the main dishes. It is quite well priced for the area, has a good and approachable wine list and there is definitely potential. And the rillettes really are damned good. 

 

More about Rondo

Where is it? 199-206 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 7BD

Find out more: Visit the website and follow them on Instagram @rondoldn.

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Rondo. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 

 

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