Tucked away in the side of the Grosvenor House Hotel is the eponymous restaurant of Richard Corrigan, the doyen of fine game cooking and one of Ireland’s finest chefs and larger-than-life personalities. The site was formerly home to Chez Nico, the Michelin-starred restaurant of Nico Ladenis, a fiery chef known as much for throwing out diners and critics as for his exquisite cooking. Shortly after sitting down, I was encouraged to see Chef Corrigan himself in the main restaurant, greeting diners – this is a chef who is always in his kitchen rather than just a name over the door.
I often have to hold back from the temptation of eating too much freshly baked bread before my starter, and here I had to stop myself from swiping the whole bread basket from our bemused waitress, whom I called back three times for more blue cheese and parmesan doughnuts. The salty, sweet and sour blue-cheese flavour of these little fluffy bread balls covered in shavings of Parmesan was rich and delicate, dissolving in my mouth – truly extraordinary. After the third I realised that I had added a fourth course to my order, but there was just no getting enough of these doughy masterpieces. Indeed, I could happily have dined on them alone, but that would have done an injustice to the restaurant’s fine menu.
We had starters of sautéed chicken livers with smoked bone marrow and pickled vegetables and crispy duck egg, warm leeks and mustard hollandaise. The pickled vegetables cut through the rich bone marrow, while the duck egg, which had been bread crumbed and deep fried, broke open to reveal the perfect runny yoke to add to the warm blanket of hollandaise that lovingly held the triumphant white asparagus.
I clearly missed a trick in not ordering the steak and kidney pudding with fillet of beef, which appeared on a silver trolley with much ceremony at the table next door, but at least I know what I will be having next time.
Our decision to opt for fish at the altar of a game specialist felt a little strange, but fortunately for us they were exceptional fish. Both the poached fillet of Dover sole with soft egg-yolk and caper dressing and the fillet of haddock, parsnip puree and lobster managed, once again, to balance richness with delicate flavour. Meanwhile, the luxuriously buttered carrots with ginger and star anise and creamed spinach showed that the side orders were given the same masterful treatment as the stars of the show.
Puddings of rhubarb soufflé with ginger ice cream and vanilla and caramelised banana with salted peanut brittle and coffee syrup underlined the importance of ordering pudding for an epic finale. The ice cream was dropped into the top of the soufflé so that it melted down into an über-sweet lava, while the banana dish tasted like three best friends having a party.
What on the face of it is a very serious food offering is in fact full of lighthearted personality and should be visited by all. The food is some of the best in London, and the set menu of £27.00 also makes it great value. There will be a next time.