Helene Darroze at the Connaught

Carlos Place, The Connaught Hotel, London, England, W1K 2AL, United Kingdom

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What follows are notes from previous meals. 2008 22nd July

The Connaught dining room is a dark mahogany-panelled affair, with patterned carpet and a mix of banquettes and traditional chairs. Lighting, such as it is, is provided from a oddly modern central fitting (via designer India Mahdavi) and side lamps, but the lighting is subdued to the point of gloom (better on my nmost recent visit). Tables are covered in fine white linen, with a single flower in a vase on each table.

Interestingly the tasting menu is now £85, down £5 from its earlier price, presmably a sign of the times. Admittedly this was a January evening, but the dining room was only half full. Nibbles were quite enjoyable: a tomato stick with olive oil was unusual and tasty, a velouté of artichoke had rather insipid flavour, while a little foccacia of salmon and dill had good texture but a little more salmon flavour would have been nice (16/20). An amuse bouche of foie gras with peanut foam was not well executed, as although the texture was fine, the peanut flavour completely overwhelmed the foie gras (14/20).  

Blue lobster was excellent (better than on a previous visit), seasoned with well controlled Indian spices, served with spring onion and beurre noisette, the lobster entirely without even a hint of chewiness (18/20). I had squid cooked with tomatoes and chorizo on a bed of Carnaroli rice with Parmesan foam. This dish had lots of flavour and the squid had barely an element of chewiness, while the dish was well seasoned (17/20).

My main course of roast partridge was unexciting, what flavour there was coming mainly from the accompaniments: tiny Brussels sprouts, little pieces of cooked “reinettes” apples (from C<évennes) and grapes, with a vin jaune sauce (barely 16/20). Much better was venison, served as both fillet and ribs with pepper, autumn fruits and fondant of vegetables with a Stilton emulsion and a red wine sauce; the meat was carefully cooked and had excellent flavour (18/20). 

A pre dessert of pineapple with citrus flavours was refreshing (17/20). A dessert of exotic fruits set in lime jelly with coconut ice cream was very light, with feathery passion fruit “paper” and excellent marshmallow (18/20). A rich chocolate dessert using Venezuelan Carupano dark chocolate had a chocolate cream, bitter chocolate sorbet and hot chocolate sauce, and while extremely rich this was hard to argue with (18/20). Coffee is extremely high quality but is also £8, admittedly with some further chocolates, but £8? 

Service was top of the range tonight, attentive and dealing with assorted diner preferences with aplomb, with just one minor slip.  I have now had three meals here: the first was a dinner when Helene Darroze was in the kitchen (18/20), the second a lunch when she was not (16/20) and now a dinner when she was absent (17/20). Hence 17/20 seems a good score.


Further reviews: 03rd Jun 2021 | 27th Apr 2012 | 21st Sep 2009 | 01st Aug 2008 | 01st Jul 2007

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