Indigo at One Aldwych Hotel
By Sophie Louise Middleton
Indigo at the One Aldwych Hotel is one of a kind. The secret ingredient to Executive Chef Dominic Teague's menu has been a hit; but so successful in fact, that it's become virtually unrecognisable.
The menu at Indigo contains no gluten or dairy; usually indicating that an establishment will cater to the fussiest clientèle around. And the need to accommodate for a certain group of diners was what prompted Teague (previously of the Lanesborough Hotel) to strip back his menu and start from scratch. During the restaurant's opening back in later 2015, Teague revealed in an interview with the Evening Standard that he spent months re-defining his menu after receiving a noticeable number of requests from diners for a free-from menu. Restaurants in London can no longer afford to lose customers, especially not in postcodes such as WC2. Is it worth the risk? Well it must be if that's what his customers are shouting for.
Dietary requirements in 2017 have now surpassed health concerns but have also made themselves a strong matter of interest within our lifestyle choices too. I once waited a table at an event where a woman was pulled up by a friend who said 'I didn't know you were gluten-free?' to which her response was: 'I only eat Fish on Tuesday and I'm gluten-free on Friday'. And London's offerings to those who desperately need to complete their Tuesday and Friday agendas disappoint far more than delight. Food is bland, spoiled by 'clean-eating' trends that deny us of any flavour or depth. Dine at Indigo however, and and any preconceived ideas on 'free-from' food will be thwarted.
Indigo looks over One Aldwych's stylish bar from the Mezzanine and offers a modest à la carte menu centred on seasonal ingredients. The term 'free-form' to those who don't necessarily need to opt 'out', always refers to a 'lack'. In most cases, this lack is from great taste, flavour and a sense of satisfaction when choosing from a menu that ironically requires greater time and effort for chefs to create and execute. Instead of turning a blind eye to this, guests must be encouraged to discover the fruits of Teague's labour and see how he's managed to get it so right in a realm of cooking that once seemed so wrong.
The free-from elements are most noticeable in dishes such as the hand-rolled potato gnocchi and his desserts; vanilla yoghurt panna cotta, hazelnut pavlova and chocolate mousse. Flavours are immense, textures satisfying, heavenly even, and the use of coconut in different ways instead of our lip-licking double cream (the popular chocolate mousse for example is made with coconut oil) has proved a learning curve with enormous merits.
The bread, Teague confessed, was equally difficult to achieve. But what a result. A samphire and onion bread, along with more updated creations are impossible to put down. The menu still includes seafood favourites, delicious fresh steaks, the works. Let's not forget that Teague made has come from the acclaimed Lanesborough Hotel and Marco Pierre White's L'Escargot.
It's a memorable meal that's lighter than usual but doesn't compromise all the good stuff. Guests aren't noticing the free-from elements, an indicator that they're getting it right. No complaints about blandness? Bizarre tastes? It can't seriously be that good... But it is.
A meal for two is around £60 including the set menu for £22 each with a bottle of house wine.