Entering Arros QD feels like walking into the lobby of a luxury hotel; you’re greeted by a team of immaculately turned out staff, while grand surrounds include patent black walls, burnt orange furnishings and a specially designed chandelier which is made to look like a fistful of rice that’s been thrown into the air.
Once fully inside, you’ll notice an open kitchen complete with a chef’s counter and plenty of other extravagant flourishes, including gold cutlery. Such opulence should come as no surprise given who’s behind the operation – this is the debut London restaurant from three Michelin-starred Valencian chef Quique Dacosta, who is a seriously big name in his home country.
Interestingly, Dacosta’s focus here is paella (arros translates from Spanish as ‘rice’). This could be a hard sell, considering that rice is not typically seen as a high-end ingredient and because paella here can set you back as much as £90. Robust pricing aside though, this paella is worth shouting about.
It’s cooked using wood-burning stoves, with the aroma produced by the wood acting as an invisible ingredient of sorts, which really locks in the flavour. Paella here can be ordered in small or large portions (in defence of those high prices, the larger option can easily be shared between two or three), with both classic and contemporary versions of the famed Spanish dish available. We stuck to the newer iterations, sampling sticky black squid ink rice that tasted of all the delights of the ocean and was mingled with calamari and artichokes, before being rubbed with an oyster aioli.
Aside from the main event, Arros QD’s selection of small plates also impressed, with top shouts being the small but mighty pulled pork slider slicked with kimchi sauce, and a pile of glossy black cheese ‘stones’ that erupt with a thick filling of parmesan, manchego cream and cocoa butter (our waitress cheerily informed us that at Dacosta’s restaurant on the Costa Blanca, the dish is mixed in with real stones.)
A warm atmosphere and a well-chosen European wine list add further to Arros QD’s appeal, which was bustling on our mid-week visit (it will surely benefit from its plum Fitzrovia location). Quique Dacosta may have been a relative unknown on these shores up until now, but with a debut like this, we’re certain that’s about to change.