Richard Corrigan’s Mayfair Restaurant – The Clatter of Forks and Spoons in a Fine Mayfair Setting:
There are certain invitations which I know will be a real treat. Having visited a few times in the past, for me Corrigan’s is one of the best restaurants in Mayfair. It’s timeless, comfortable, elegant and inviting – somewhere with food values I respect and with cooking that I’ve always loved. The ethos of joyous eating, of seasonal food and of recipes which are based on his own childhood in rural Ireland shines through in the dishes which are brought to the table. All that in a Mayfair London restaurant with white table linen, a top class sommelier service, sparkling silverware and classic decor may seem unlikely, but Corrigan’s pulls it off remarkably well.
We met in Dickies Bar – the intimate cocktail bar – for pre-dinner drinks and nibbles. Somehow, I had managed to lose my way – approaching from the Marble Arch end of Mayfair rather than Park Lane, I walked straight past Upper Grosvenor Street and ended up being five minutes late. But, the minute the door opened everything seemed alright. My companion, Madeleine from Kitchen Journeys was already nestled up, cocktail in hand, with a small bowl of popcorn to keep her happy.
My welcome cocktail arrived a few minutes later, a warming drink of whisky, apricot and mango syrup and lime. The perfect antidote to wet London weather I felt better already. But even more so when a small plate of Gordal olive and goats cheese balls arrived. Deep fried and served with grated Parmesan and shaved black truffle, these were too morish and had it not been for the planned dinner we’d have probably ordered more.
Instead, I indulged in one of the cocktails – ‘The Fourth Marquess’, recommended to me as being dry and light. A blend of Tanqueray 10, Fino Sherry, St Germain, Green Tea and Lemon Grass, it was the perfect pre-dinner mouthful, delicate and palate cleansing.
In the elegant dining room of the main restaurant, we nibbled on fresh Irish soda bread. Now, I do make my own soda bread quite regularly. But it’s nothing like the Corrigan’s version, which I suspect benefits from a longer ingredient list and a lot more TLC than the version I knock together when I fancy some bread to go with my soup. I have the Corrigan’s recipe though – as we left the restaurant we were offered a selection of recipe cards. And, I’m planning to try it very soon.
Meanwhile, an amuse bouche of cauliflower veloute with chives and parmesan crisp arrived. I know from a previous encounter with Richard Corrigan that his own estate, Victoria Park Lodge in Co. Cavan, produces many of the seasonal vegetables used in Corrigan’s Mayfair and certainly that level of attention to freshness and detail shines through in the dishes served in the restaurant.
We went on to enjoy starters – for Madeleine, seared Orkney scallops with cauliflower, vanilla and cocoa which was paired with a glass of Albarino O Rosal, Terras Gauda – Rias Baixas Spain. She found the cocoa notes a little lingering and overwhelming but otherwise enjoyed the perfectly cooked scallops and cauliflower puree.
My own dish was titled ‘Celeriac, Black Truffle, Beaufort Cheese’. Sure enough, buttery celeriac, topped with melted Beaufort cheese and a little black truffle. Such a simple idea but really delicious. Another one to try at home, though I suspect I’ll cheat and use a little truffle oil rather than the ‘real thing’.
My pairing was a 2015 Grüner Veltliner Loimer Loiserberg from Kamptal, Austria. Corrigan’s have a tidy selection of wines by the glass, which includes this fresh, green apple and pear 100% Grüner Veltliner which I’d never have picked for myself, but which made an excellent complement to the rich celeriac dish I was enjoying.
For my main course I was intrigued by the quail Wellington with foie grass, charred hispi and lentils. It’s the sort of dish I’d never try to make at home – boned quail wrapped in neat pastry parcels and served perfectly cooked.
A pairing of 2016 Bourgogne Les Ursulines Jean-Claude Boisset – Côte d’Or, France. An ancient, classic French wine producing region, this pinot noir was a lovely light accompaniment to my quail.
Meanwhile, Madeleine had ordered Dartmoor Venison with Swiss Chard and Chanterelles which arrived perfectly cooked, pink in the middle, with a healthy helping of mushrooms
For her, a more robust, 2012 Rioja Gran Reserva, Coto de Imaz.
We both really appreciated the attention to detail and helpful pairings by the sommelier – it’s one of those little ‘extras’ in top restaurants that can make the difference between good food and a great meal. Generally, unless you happen to go regularly to the same place, the sommelier will know the dishes on the menu and the wines so well that they can really help lift a dining experience. Here, that was definitely the case – even Madeleine who seldom drinks more than a glass was impressed and easily tempted by dessert wine to accompany her Blood Orange Souffle with marmalade and sheep’s yoghurt. I have to admit to a touch of jealousy both of the dessert and the wine, a 2013 Tokaj Aszu Disznoko.
That without any belittling of my own Pear Frangipane with port and creme fraiche, which came paired with a Yuzu Sake Keigetzu. I particularly liked the fine shavings of fresh pear and the crisp pastry of the frangipane tart.
Is it a reflection of the quality of a restaurant when the table next door is set up for the chef’s daughter and wife… And for the chef himself when he gets a chance to escape service? I suspect completely the opposite and was charmed to recognise Richard sitting just along the way. A quick hello which I hope wasn’t intrusive – I was genuinely thrilled by the food and service and wanted to thank him personally for what was a great start to 2018 for me at one of the best restaurants in London.
8 Upper Grosvenor Street