Rondo: What's the draw?
When Will Lander's name is attached to a restaurant, the food world sits up and takes notice. He's co-owner of the cultish Quality Chop House, along with Portland and Clipstone – and now he's partnered with The Hoxton to create Rondo, a restaurant occupying the ground floor of the hotel group's Holborn outpost. Adding to the lineup is head chef Chris Gillard, who spent 15 years at equally cultish St John, which just goes to show that the new breed of hotel restaurant is capable of attracting big names that sit on the trendy side of swanky. The Hoxton had great success with Seabird, the rooftop restaurant at their Southwark site, so we had high hopes for Rondo.
Rondo: What to drink?
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Popping in on a Wednesday evening, Rondo's space, divided into restaurant and bar, had a buzzy vibe despite ye olde curfew, which was heartwarming to see. Take a pew with a BulletProof cocktail – Bulleit bourbon, Cynar, Punt e Mes, orange bitters – for Mad Men-esque vibes accented by the midcentury modern interiors. It really is a shame restaurants and bars have to shut at 10pm, because this is a space just calling out for some late-night drinking. Elsewhere, house wines are available on tap – and you can even buy a refillable bottle to take away. We got carried away by the Domaine de Gandlines Macon Blanc 2019, a burgundy very reasonably priced at £10 a glass that had enough body to carry off the meat- and fish-forward menu.
Rondo: What to eat?
Remember those cheese twists you can buy in the supermarket? Often found at Christmas alongside a glass of fizz, or in our case eaten straight from the packet. Here they get an ingenious upgrade: ultra-light pastry that's not too dry (as is the fault with many of the supermarket varieties), a hint of creaminess, and delicately sprinkled with shavings of fresh Gruyère. Our only complaint was that there weren't enough – we recommend ordering two plates at least, and throwing in at least one serving of the salt pollock tempura bites while you're at it. Elsewhere, the nose-to-tail ethos of St. John shone through in the pork and duck rillettes (irresistible), and crab salad with cucumber and sauer-fennel (fresh and tasty, but more crab needed). Whole-baked lemon sole, too, had a whiff of St John about it – served with chunky caper-juice-coated croutons, it was a mélange of textures and flavours, nicely offset by the crunchy garlic potatoes with Arbroath smokie cream. Our only regret? Not ordering the wild rabbit and bacon pie – but that would've been greedy now, wouldn't it?
199-206 High Holborn, WC1V 7BD; thehoxton.com