Richard Corrigan is a cooking celebrity if there ever was one – back to back wins on the first 2 series of the Great British Menu has seen him cook for the Queen and for French Ambassadors but he can now add a much more valued scalp by also having cooked for me! If asked I’ll always say that one of my most disappointing meals ever was at his other London restaurant Bentleys (albeit many years ago) where I had a starter and main containing more salt than deemed sensible to eat in a week but ever since spending a hugely enjoyable evening sat next to him at Hix’s I’ve been wanting to see what his real food offering is all about.
Corrigan’s Mayfair is situated just off Park Lane and within waking distance of a large number of foreign embassies however it’s even closer proximity to a number of Park Lane hotels also means that while there were indeed a good number of big business dinners happening there was also a good selection of normal folk in the plush dining room to provide a nice warm atmosphere. There is also a piano player by the reception desk, a nice touch meaning no need to plug in any muzak into the dining room through speakers.
From what I had gathered from reading about Richard and seeing his TV appearances I was expecting the food to be seasonal, focus on quality ingredients and also to arrive in generous portions. The tasting menu sat at a reasonable sounding 6 courses (5 savoury with a choice of 2 puddings) but before we got into that there was the perfect opportunity to make an arse out of myself with the canapés (provided in place of an amuse-bouche); goat cheese filled and lightly fried olives which I attempted to bite in half and had the cheese splurge down my shirt. Thankfully being used to making these kind of cock-ups I was able to remove the evidence with a quick shake of the napkin.
Our first course backed up my theory of ingredients being the main event here. Heirloom tomato jelly with goats curd consisted of some fresh, bright red shards of tomato sitting on a bed of the light but strong tasting tomato jelly with a little fried ball of goats cheese and a line of olive tapenade. It could be said that the addition of just one little ball of cheese was a bit measly but in fact it felt to me like it was there more as a flavour enhancer – providing a texture of cream and an additional boost of seasoning when needed to some deliciously ripe tomatoes. Going back to my expected themes; seasonal, best ingredients and generosity our second course of charcuterie confirmed the generosity. I’ve not had charcuterie as a tasting menu course before but the selection of meats (ham and veal tongue), parfait, chutneys, pates and terrines was a big course, and a good one. With there being so many choices some will always be inferior to others but the chicken liver parfait and coarse pork pate were splendid eaten upon a rich toasted slice of brioche, of which I think we should have had more than 1 slice of.
A couple of fish courses followed with a fairly standard scallop dish being given an extra bit of interest with the addition of a
charred/ burnt/ashen onions topping that added a real BBQ’ed taste to the white sweet tasting meat. The addition of smoked pine in the cooking of a fillet of sea-bass was again an unexpected flavour and while I initially described the smell like ‘Christmas gone wrong’ the woody smoke in addition to a perfect crisp skin left on the fish me extremely pleased. A word of warning though – the pine needles are not edible, in so far as you CAN eat them (and I did) but they taste of shit. It was served atop of the meat so I wasn’t sure but it was certainly garnish only and maybe should have been presented to the side of the plate to save such confusions in the future.
While looking through the à la carte there was one course that stood out amongst all others and had me strongly consider if I wanted to ditch the tasting menu so I could eat it; thankfully the lovely folk here let us substitute our planned main of lamb, tomato and anchovy for it; meaning for out meat course we had slow cooked short rib of beef, bone marrow and onion ring. Boy was it good; you could have eaten the meat with a spoon, the jus was deep and rich and full of deglazed flavour. It wasn’t only use enjoying it – I could see numerous tables marvelling at the dish as the night went on.
Unsurprisingly after 5 big courses we were both rather stuffed so while a chocolate brownie with chestnut cream sounded great the option of a super-light rhubarb soufflé seemed the logical choice. As big a portion as it was it was as light as feather so went down perfectly with the in-season rhubarb popping up through-out the stack of souffle providing a lovely sharpness when it did.
The food at Corrigan’s was everything I expected, the best of the seasons ingredients cooked without much fuss but with flair added by the inclusion of additional tastes or textures. There is nothing on the menu that will have you thinking at length about what your food is going to taste like but there are numerous options that will make you want to come back for more.Tweet