Ever since Corrigan's Mayfair launched last November at London's Grosvenor House hotel, chef-patron Richard Corrigan has garnered nothing but praise from the critics. Kerstin Kühn discovers why
Last week saw the closure of one of London's most iconic restaurants, Richard Corrigan's Michelin-starred Lindsay House, which shut its doors after 25 years of service.
The Irish chef, who had been at the restaurant's helm since 1997, says its closure is the end of an era, but the show must go on, and it will, at his new restaurant, launched last year.
Corrigan's Mayfair opened at London's Grosvenor House hotel last November and is something of a career high. The site certainly has a proven pedigree, once housing the iconic three-Michelin-starred Chez Nico at Ninety.
"It is a legendary site that comes with a great history and DNA attached to it," Corrigan admits. But despite this history he has already made the site his own, with even the most feared restaurant critics giving him rave reviews.
The 72-seat restaurant is a standalone operation adjacent to Grosvenor House, with a separate entrance. It includes two private dining rooms and a bar, with interiors designed by Martin Brudnizki.
The design reflects the theme of a hunting lodge, with interiors including antlers, a frieze carving of abstract game figures and lamps covered in feathers.
The menu also reflects this theme, with wild foods and game at its core. Developed together with head chef Chris McGowan, it includes ingredients such as wild smoked salmon, wood pigeon, hare, partridge, pheasant and venison. Starters cost from £6.50 to £18, and main courses from £13.50 to £24. A set lunch menu is priced at £24.50 for three courses.
The earthy, robust yet sophisticated and "less is more" approach to fine dining Corrigan is so well known for is very much at the heart of this restaurant, as is the sense of honesty in the food, which he says is what people want. There are no amuse-bouches, tasting menus, pre-desserts or other "distractions" as Corrigan calls them.
"Diners don't have time for all that stuff any more," he says.
Instead, the focus is purely on the ingredients. Crustaceans and seafood play a central role, and the menu kicks off with dishes including native oysters, Cornish crab jelly with melba toast, octopus carpaccio and Corrigan's take on a bouillabaisse: a south coast fish soup served with garlic mayonnaise.
Other starters include roast wood pigeon with pumpkin and chestnut; a pig's head terrine; and linguine cooked in red wine with pecorino and bone marrow.
Main courses are divided into meat and game, and fish sections, with the latter featuring dishes such as John Dory with Jerusalem artichokes and langoustine sauce (£21.75); a wonderfully creamy yet light butter poached smoked haddock dish with lobster and creamed parsnip (£20); as well as a steamed sole fillet with ceps (£22).
THE REAL HIGHLIGHT
But the game is the real highlight, notably a grouse pie with ceps (£18); roe venison in buttery pastry with lightly pickled cabbage (£22); and game suet pudding with mashed swede and carrot (£15.75).
Then there's a lamb kebab à la grecque (£22.50); ox cheek with mushroom ravioli and garlic leaf (£24); and braised pigs trotter with pomme purée (£19), all of which bear Corrigan's signature wild, gutsy style of cooking.
Desserts are equally rustic, with a homely yet sophisticated modern touch. They include a lovely and light rhubarb soufflé (£7.50); a quince tart with golden raisin and Sauternes ice-cream (£7.50); and a carrot cake with pickled walnuts and clementines (£7.50).
The wine list, overseen by head sommelier Andrea Briccarello, is arguably one of the best written in London - full of stories and ideas and wonderfully unpretentious food and wine pairing suggestions.
Corrigan's Mayfair will no doubt continue to drive Corrigan's prestige as one of the capital's most acclaimed chefs. And you can't even call it the luck of the Irish.
WHAT'S ON THE MENU?