What can you tell me about Arros QD?
It's the first London restaurant from top Spanish chef Quique Dacosta, who has more than a few Michelin stars under his belt. In Spain, he has a number of restaurants, including his self-titled three Michelin-starred place which also happens to be in the World's 50 best long-list (currently at no 81). This London outpost is a new concept for him, and as you might guess from the title, rice is a central theme. That's showcased in both classic and contemporary paella dishes.
Where is it?
The restaurant is in Fitzrovia, about a 5-10 minute stroll from Oxford Circus station. It takes up a sizeable corner space on Eastcastle and Wells Street.
And it's an impressive space?
It is indeed - much grander than we had initially expected. The ground floor is dominated by the large open kitchen, and if you want to see how your paella is being made up-close, the counter dining seats here are the space for you. Also on the ground floor is the chef's table. It's in the main restaurant but features the best view right into the kitchen.
Upstairs it's half restaurant, half bar. There are plenty of stools if you want to grab a quick drink, but we were also rather taken by the lounge area here. This looks like a very handy place for a relaxed drink, even if you're not in the mood for paella - very useful if you work nearby.
If we're not heading to the bar - where's a good place for a nearby drink?
There are a couple of pubs nearby - The Champion is a good option - or alternatively, the Punch Room at Berners Tavern is just around the corner. But really, the bar here may be the best bet.
Onto the food - it's all about the paella, yes?
It's certainly the main event, but there's a lot on the menu that you'll want to try before you get to the paella. You'll want to start with a selection of dishes from the small (i.e. snacks), starters and skewers sections. There are some very compelling dishes on offer - (the fried soft-shell crab was tempting) - but here's what we went for to kick things off...
Then onto the paella?
If that's what you fancy, yes. But it's not all about the rice. There's also a whole grill section to sate any non-paella fanciers. Choose either from the wood or charcoal section, with extreme options like a "Grass‑fed Cornwall tomahawk, 40 days aged" at £110 (suggested for 2-4 people). There's also lobster with chili crab dressing, whole brill, marinated Scottish skate wing and more.
And now it's time for paella?
Yes - and you''ll need to keep your appetite for this (although everything we had up to this point was fairly light). They've clearly gone to a lot of trouble to get their traditional paellas just right. The open kitchen downstairs is focused on them, and they've spared no expense on the kitchen equipment...
So there's a choice of paella types?
Yes - you're looking at "traditional rice" or "contemporary rice". And if it's your first visit, we think that you'll definitely want to take in one of the traditional types (it's what the tasting menu focuses around too). Each one is served in a traditional paella pan and can easily feed 2-3 people. We've heard talk that it could serve four - although we think that's stretching it. But we do tend to the greedy side of portion control.
We think that the main dish is the one that we chose...
Other traditional rice dishes include a "Mediterranean, cuttlefish, tiger prawn, monkfish, ńoras aioli" (£50) and "Canadian lobster, cuttle fish, ńoras aioli" (£90). We think the Valencian paella looks like the best deal, but the lobster version does look full-on:
And how about the contemporary rice dishes?
These veer away from traditional paella. They're served in square pans, and can be ordered in small or large portions if you fancy getting a selection. Examples are "Smoke ‘dashi’ eel, katsuobushi, white sesame seeds, black garlic aioli (£17/£32)" or "Wood pigeon breast, wild mushrooms, rosemary, porcini aioli (£18/£34)"
Here's how they look:
There are sides as well?
There are - but if you've ordered the paella, we really don't think you'll need any extras. We had "the grilled cauliflower" but it was a bit too heavy on the tahini for us - and you can even order roast potatoes. The sides are really only for people ordering from the grills. That said - there are six types of aioli if you fancy giving those a go, including black garlic aioli and oyster aioli.
How is it for vegetarians?
Every section on the menu has a vegetarian option. On the grill section, it's "Seasonal vegetables" or "seasonal mushrooms", on the traditional rice section, there's "Vegetable paella, seasonal vegetables, traditional aioli" and on the contemporary, "Seasonal vegetables, coriander aioli". There are a few more options in the starters section - the one that jumps out the most is "Seasonal cherry tomatoes, tomato snow, sundried tomato emulsion" (£14).
How about desserts?
We tried the couple that you can see below - and think you should definitely go for the cookie (it's the most theatrical). Otherwise, we were rather tempted by "Pineapple, coconut ice cream, rum syrup" or "Pistachio, cocoa craquer, pistachio sponge". All the desserts are £11.
How about drinks?
We didn't try any cocktails - but there's a very promising selection at £14 each. An example is the Pedro Fizz - "Pedro Ximenez Sweet Wine, Amaretto Di Saronno, Black Walnuts Bitter, Moet & Chandon Champagne". That sounds just our thing.
As for wine, glasses start at £9 (175ml) or £30 a bottle and there are a few more choices at £35, so that's not a bad selection down the bottom end. Otherwise, you'll see a large wine list split by region, with options for large-format wines (i.e. huge bottles) and a section devoted to sherry too.
This is a restaurant that's been three years in the making and when you head in the door, it's clear that they're taking things seriously here. Their paella is certainly on point - and that's the main thing to get right here. Combine that with plenty great starters and snacks, a beautiful looking restaurant (with plenty of light in its corner setting), welcoming staff and a buzzy atmosphere throughout - and they're absolutely onto a winner.
Hot Dinners ate as guests of Arros QD. Prices are correct at the time of writing.
More about Arros QD
Where is it? 64 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8NQ