Chez Roux, The Langham: High quality, well-executed simplicity at Michel Roux Jr’s new restaurant

01 Jul 2024 | |By Anna Solomon

You won’t find anything plated with tweezers à la Le Gavroche at Roux Jr’s new spot – just good food with a better back story

Much has been made of the windowlessness of Chez Roux, with The Spectator going so far as to call it ‘an uneasy place’. The restaurant is housed in the palm court (an anachronism referring to a large atrium space containing palm trees) of The Langham hotel. Yes, it’s dimly-lit, but, honestly, I like it. 

The plush carpet, the champagne shade of the walls, and the fact that the space emanates a certain spangly-ness thanks to all the mirrors and chandeliers makes Chez Roux feel like the sort of place that a 1960s starlet might go for dinner with her beau. I liked that there’s a grand piano in the corner. I liked the gold lamps on each table, and the cosy, vignette-style glow they give off. And I loved the sprays of daisies and peonies in Waterford crystal, especially against the Tiffany-aquamarine of the menus. Chez Roux, far from feeling oppressive or heavy-handed, feels fresh. Fancy, of course – anything else from The Langham would be odd – but in a fun, indulgent way that makes you feel like a child trying on oversized jewellery and glittery make up.

Chez Roux opened in May, mere months after the shock closure of Le Gavroche, Michel Roux Jr’s flagship restaurant. Chez Roux is, if you will, the sequel. And this isn’t the English-French chef’s first dallience with The Langham; Roux at the Landau opened in 2010, which has since been taken over by Southern French eatery Mimosa. Now, Roux Jr is back, just across the hallway from his old digs. 

The food, like the decor, is a blast from the past. Roux Jr has said that his aim with the restaurant was to evoke memories of his childhood at the Fairlawne estate in Kent, where his father, Albert, worked as a private chef for the Cazalet family, as well as of the early days of Le Gavroche, which was opened by Albert and his brother Michel in 1967.

I decided to get into the spirit of things with the starter, opting for the resident eyebrow-raiser, oeuf en gelée, which is exactly what it sounds like: a poached Burford Brown egg suspended in a dome of beef stock gelatin along with cubes of beef tongue, topped with a quenelle of horseradish, which staff administer at the table. Not to dazzle you with my writerly prowess, but I would describe it as ‘very beefy’, which wasn’t a bad thing at all. What I liked less was the volume of meaty jelly which, with the similarly-textured egg, got a little cloying. My companion’s first course was diametrically opposed to the brown-on-brown of my plate: a little fortress of halved English asparagus hemming in a miscellany of pea bavarois and tomato bois boudran.

chez roux the langham

There are no surprises when it comes to mains at Chez Roux: there’s beef fillet, lemon sole, roast spring chicken and lamb ‘reform’ (the English version of the gamey French poivrade sauce), with side options of mash or green beans. It’s quite a bold thing, these days, to serve food without any gimmicks – any foams, tuiles or gels. The quality needs to be impeccable to carry it off. And, while my crispy lamb cutlet was super tasty, slathered in a sauce thick with peas and carrots, and my guest’s beef as pink and soft as you would expect beef at The Langham to be, they didn’t set the world on fire. 

As big a fan as I am of rice pudding, and as much as I would have loved to complete my nostalgic gastronomic foray with Chez Roux’s ‘vanilla rice with crystalized pistachios and redcurrant coulis’, we were feeling pretty full by this point, but were encouraged to share some ice cream. I’m glad we did, because the orange, honey and almond givrée (not ice cream, sorry), which means ‘frosty’ in French, was great – tart with citrus and sweet like frangipane. 

The amuse bouche that we were given at the start of the meal, which was essentially (delicious) cream cheese between two (delicious) sablé biscuits, was a harbinger of what was to come: Chez Roux’s raison d’etre is high quality, well-executed simplicity. Which, as a concept, I love. The issue with doing the ‘elevated comfort food’ thing, however, is that it needs to be perfect, which, at times, Chez Roux was not. Nevertheless, I loved getting lost in the sentimental world of the two-Michelin-starred Roux Jr – a world of white tablecloths and steamed puddings. Plus, the setting was perfect for it; a hill I’m happy to die on.


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