Saturday, 15 August 2020

Helene Darroze at The Connaught

Taste of summer

XXL Scottish scallop, spices, carrot, citrus

2020 has been a crazy year so far, who would have expected a virus that would cause such damage across the world? The UK restaurant trade has been badly hit, with restaurants closing down left and right. My no1, aka The Ledbury has sadly called it a day, along with the fantastic Greenhouse in Mayfair. I am really sad indeed. I have picked the 2 Michelin starred Helene Darroze at The Connaught (HD) as my first restaurant to visit in the post lockdown world, just in time to take advantage of the VAT cut and gosh, I need a proper fine dining treat after more than 3 months of cooking at home. To adapt to Covid 19, HD has reduced to serving only a tasting menu, using a selection of prime summer ingredients. It was my 8th visit to HD but I know it will be nothing like before with social distancing in mind.

Canapes of liver, trout and burrata
Bread and peppered butter
Sardine, cucumber, almond, gooseberry
Ricotta, tomato, spinach
Foie gras, peach, sesame
Brill, artichoke, fennel, lime

All the staff at HD had masks on, but interesting enough I found them even more welcoming and warming than ever, I suspect they must be so glad to be back as well. I was really impressed with the ricotta cheese, sitting in a bellota consomme. It was creamy but extremely refreshing at the same time, with the coolness of tomato and spinach offered a fine balance. I found it similar to La Dam de Pic's signature 'Berlingots Pasta', but HD's version was superior in every way. HD's own signature giant scallop cooked with carrot and spices was such a sensational dish. It really reflected how Helen enjoys using Asian spices in combination with western cooking techniques. The scallop was cooked perfectly, and the spices and seasoning really uplifted the sweetness of the scallop. The brill was another highlight of my meal, this time Helen has infused it with Thai element of kaffir lime and lemongrass, the sweet and sour freshness was simply a match in heaven with the fish.

Lamb, haggis, tomato, capers
Raspberries, sorrel, almond
Baba in the making
Armagnac baba

Coco, buttermilk, tarragon

My first post lockdown meal was a real delight. In fact, I would rate it the best HD meal I have had out of my 8 visits. I suppose the restaurant can fully focus on serving one single menu help, but also I understand Helen herself was on the pass which I am sure has had an impact. I had very average meals at HD in the past, but this Taste of Summer menu was outstanding, and totally deserves its 2 Michelin stars rating. The service was another highlight of the evening, everyone had a big smile and treated us like old friends, it was priceless. With the VAT cut, now is a great time to check out HD as the tasting menu used to be around the 
£150 mark, and now is less than £110. Top-quality Michelin level French food inside a 5 stars hotel for that kind of price is amazing value for money.

Food 4.5/5

Executive chef: 

Helene Darroze

Average cost without drinks and services :

7 course: £109

Carlos Pl  London W1K 2AL

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