Paddington might not set bells ringing as a foodie destination, but at House of Coco, if there’s food, we will travel regardless of the location. Asides from the famous brown bear and busy commuter station, Roba Bar and Restaurant at 34 Norfolk Place offers a rather chic dining experience in Paddington. Having only opened earlier this month, our writer Kayleigh Lavery left her marmalade sandwiches behind in a quest for some good British grub.
As part of the Norfolk Towers hotel, the building underwent a major refurbishment five years ago and Roba is a fine example of the hotel’s revamped decor. The stylish interiors have been designed by Tibbatts Abel, the award-winning interior designers behind the iconic Buddha Bar in Knightsbridge. Luxury cream chairs and rich velvet booths offer a chic yet relaxed dining environment. Fluorescent strobe lighting on the ceiling adds a funky vibe in contrast to the stylish furniture.
Roba’s mastermind Head Chef Andrea Secchi brings his talent and passion for modern British cooking to create a changing seasonal menu that is packed with flavour. (His previous experience includes high profile London locations such as The Berkeley and Tredwell’s.) His food is innovative and presented beautiful whilst his experience is reflected in Roba’s menu. Instead of the bog standard starter and main layout, the menu is broken down into snacks, bowls, salads, Robata grill and classics; it all depends what you fancy. We began with the Chef’s sharing platter (for two) of hot wings, calamari, mini burgers, hummus and pitta, all for a reasonable £11. The wings were glazed in a crisp BBQ batter and the dips that came with the calamari and pitta were delicious.
The grill section of the menu is quite impressive, thanks to the restaurant’s Robata grill. The indoor BBQ-like grill uses coal or maple wood to give the meat and fish a lovely smoked taste. Organic lamb chops, corn-fed chicken, grilled prawns and 48-day aged steaks are all cooked on the signature piece of cooking equipment. We recommend the sharing fish board, an assortment of salmon, prawns (which were cooked in a homemade sticky Asian sauce), seabass and cod. The simplicity of the board was punctuated by the fresh fish and the chewy, charred ‘gnarly’ bits – in the words of Jamie Oliver – which the Robata grill lends to the cooking process.
Classics include fish and chips and a mixed seafood pie, which will be a hit with tourists after traditional British food that’s made to perfection. The desserts have modern twists that keep you intrigued until your plate’s empty. The white chocolate and lavender pannacotta seasoned with cinnamon was an unusual but tasty combination whereas the chocolate cylinder dessert with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel was a real belly-pleaser.
Roba gets a huge thumbs up from us. The staff were extremely attentive and knowledgeable resulting in a calming atmosphere after a long day in the office. If you’re in need of high quality, no-fuss food Roba may be your new place to go in W2.