Helene Darroze’s 2 Michelin Star restaurant at The Connaught Hotel in Mayfair has been on my ‘to eat at’ list for quite some time.So when I just happened to be in the area the other week I thought I’d try my luck at dropping in & seeing if they had a table. (As a side note I had tried to book on Open Table a couple of nights before & was informed that there was no availability.)
If you’re going to do this I would strongly advise turning up early (around 12pm) midweek and make sure you have a back-up plan! Needless to say, I was extremely fortunate (infact there were plenty of tables free for the duration I was there).
I was eating on my own, which I weirdly really enjoy (am I the only one?!) and I have to say all the staff were extremely warm, welcoming and friendly. So much so that the service nearly outshone the food!
The dining room is beautiful with soft, comfortable seating, wood panelling & warm lighting (it must be wonderfully romantic in the evening).
I loved the simple earthy tones & cosy intimacy of it which contrasted stunningly with the modern centrepiece of glass jars displaying some of the key ingredients in Helene’s cooking.
I think the midweek lunch menu is great value – £52 per head for 3 courses, 2 glasses of wine, a bottle of water & tea or coffee. I will say however, not to bring a big eater/extremely hungry man with you as you may find you need to eat somewhere else after (this is fine dining, French style – no one’s going to leave feeling bloated or with a food baby). For this reason and the fact that it’s great – don’t shun the bread! The chili butter is an absolute must – if you’re not given it, ask for it because it’s truly heavenly.
Even though I’m gluten intolerant (snore), I was informed that I could choose from the entire menu (minus one dish) which was really refreshing. The amuse-bouche above consisted of a horseradish cream in a cone, an oyster with lemon foam & a polenta cake.
On to starters:
I’m a massive beetroot fan so had to order this beetroot & burrata starter which came with a delightfully refreshing salad on the side. The burrata was smooth and velvety as it should be and went beautifully with the subtle sweetness of the beetroot. Even the dish it was served in was well thought out.
The main event:
This cod with potato & dill was definitely the star of the show for me. The fish was so delicately cooked & the balance of flavours was sublime – the sweetness of the dill with the slight saltiness & texture of the crisp, alongside the silkiness of the sauce was absolute heaven. I gladly could have eaten another of these straight after!
Last was the chocolate, lemon and ginger dessert. As much as this was beautiful to look at, this didn’t quite deliver for me. I loved the marshmallow-type dome with the chocolate disk but underneath it was like eating a number of petit fours that didn’t quite go together. The textures just didn’t quite work – it felt like something was missing (which in retrospect it could have been, seeing as I was having the gluten-free option).
All in all though I came away feeling utterly spoilt and ever so decadent. If I had been able to stay longer I definitely would have slipped into the hotel’s beautiful bar for a digestif – maybe next time!