Roussillon in Pimlico

Sitting amongst the gleaming porticos of Pimlico is Roussillon, stalwart of the local dining scene. It’s been there for over a decade, but this is much more than your average friendly neighbourhood restaurant; in fact several reviews suggest it's one of London’s more underrated restaurants for fine dining. Fresh blood comes in the form of new head chef Shane Hughes who, armed with a Michelin star and a new menu, is out to reinvigorate the institution. Jane Duru went along to sample its gastronomic delights.

Roussillon exterior 200Roussillon is perfect for an intimate evening

First impressions

Before even setting foot on the entrance steps, the door is whipped open by an eagerly smiling waiter. Coats are taken without fuss and I’m ushered through the dining room to my table. Low-key formality seems to be the name of the game here – the upscale décor is all beiges and browns; but little touches, such as the artwork depicting various foods, and flowers and tea lights on each table, mean the restaurant manages to avoid the bland charmlessness so often associated with a classic neutral colour scheme. Other diners are conspicuous by their absence (we’re one of three couples on a Thursday night) so it’s very quiet, but the ambience is relaxed not stuffy, and the service is friendly. It feels - and I mean this in the best possible way - slightly unfashionable, as if it doesn’t need anything except the food on your plate, to prove itself.

Roussillon dining roomOpt for a table in the corner for more privacy

Ideal for...

Special occasions, couples seeking an intimate evening, and anyone wanting to escape the see-and-be-seen vibe of establishments in nearby Sloane Square. Leisurely eaters can pace themselves; there’s no merry-go-round of diners here. This is definitely one for the grown-ups however; if you have children, there's a more informal café down the road.

Best table?

Most tables are fine but if you want more privacy, cross the bay window section of the room, and go for a table in any corner; from here you’ll be well hidden from prying eyes.

The food

Diners have two choices – go for the à la carte menu or have a little bit of what you fancy via the tasting menu (which also has a vegetarian option). All of the dishes, despite their parsimonious titles, sound delicious; so in the name of good old-fashioned greed, we opt for both tasting menus. You have to allow two and a half hours for the tasting menu, so it’s not one for those who might be in a hurry; and if you’re in a group, a mixture of à la carte dining and the tasting menu is not recommended.

Roussillon dish 200Choose from à la carte and tasting menu options

The amuse-bouche appears: quails eggs in hollandaise with piccalilli, accompanied by fried parmesan balls. It’s a tasty, if tiny, treat and whets our appetites for the rest of the meal. What follows next is a parade of miniature delights.

We start with an incredible carrot and ginger emulsion; it’s foamy but not insubstantial. The carrot has been infused with all the lovely golden warmth of ginger, without the fire. It’s so moreish I long for a full-size à la carte version. Accompanied by a selection of artisanal breads – rye and onion, brioche, focaccia – these present a real dilemma, as you run the risk of eating all of it and leaving no room for the next seven courses.

Thankfully, we haven’t peaked too early and the pageant continues. Plates are brought out in timely, unhurried fashion. Each dish gets a little exposition delivered by our waitress; it’s not overbearing, just enough so you know what you’re eating. An artichoke salad with tomato jelly evokes memories of kaleidoscopes, presented as it is, in all its symmetrically fragmented glory. It tastes lovely and fresh, the slightly acidic tomato complementing the artichoke well. Most dishes are a triumph, in particular a creamy black truffle mushroom risotto, which is dense and rich; my carnivorous friend declares the mallard braised in sherry, wonderfully succulent in its sweet sauce, to be his favourite.

Roussillon cheese 200The tasting menu cheeseboard

The one blip is an underwhelming exotic fruit salad dessert with lemon mousse and white chocolate, which limps along, flavours nowhere to be seen. However, it’s soon eclipsed by a wonderful cheeseboard. I’m not usually enamoured by cheese courses, but the great selection (choose from Per Las, Manchego, Maroilles, Roquefort and more), accompanied by white truffle honey, and the playful presentation, make it a hit. With that, I think I may have to join the ranks declaring it underrated; this is one of the best meals I’ve had in London all year.


Wine buffs should find something to cater for even the most ‘niche’ of tastes here; the wine list is extensive and a knowledgeable sommelier is on hand should you want recommendations for each course. Private dining can be booked for groups of up to 28.


16 St Barnabas Street, London SW1W 8PE
Tel: (020) 7730 5550.
Prices: Lunch from £21 for three courses, à la carte £55 for three courses. Dinner à la carte £65 for three courses; tasting menu from £65 excluding service (average including wine and service £83).

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