A special anniversary calls for a very special location and I had somewhere very wonderful in mind. Hélène Darroze at The Connaught hotel had been on my bucket list for years but I’d been saving it for just the right occasion…and our six year anniversary of meeting seemed the perfect time to tick it off.
By a fortunate coincidence my favourite bar is also located in the hotel and The Connaught Bar serves my favourite champagne. I was happy with a beautiful coupé glass of Laurent-Perrier in hand on the beautiful leather seats in the art deco style bar but the hotel actually houses a whole champagne room…I mean when can I move in?
The Connaught is famous for pouring the perfect Martini and celebrates the cocktail with a unique Martini trolley. Mr S decided to go for the hotel’s signature cocktail, The Connaught Martini.
The drink is made with Tanqueray gin and a blend of Vermouth but the twist is that the mixologist tailors the cocktail with handmade bitters chosen by the customer. Mr S opted for cardamon and soon the drink was stirred and poured…
And presented in another beautiful glass designed bespoke for the bar.
A very generous selection of canapés hit our table, and though I wanted to save myself for our two-Michelin starred meal ahead I couldn’t resist the incredible truffled croque Madame with a quails egg. Also on the platter were delicious Rhug Estate beef sliders, lobster, pea and truffle toasted and salmon tartare with Alverta royal caviar.
And some beautifully crisp deep-fried scampi with saffron ali oli.
The cocktails are inspired by regions of the world and the Pacific section of the menu features adaptations from iconic Asian bars. We sampled the Gentlemen Spritz which was based on the Classic Spritz at the Repulse Bar hotel in Hong Kong and featured in Charles H. Baker’s cocktail guide, ‘The Gentlemen’s companion’ from 1939. At the Connaught Bar the refreshing cocktail includes Boulard Calvados, homemade rhubarb, red fruit cordial, Galliano Aperitivo and Laurent-Perrier Champagne.
Finishing up our cocktails we headed into the French restaurant and we were presented with the now famous marble menu. I’d seen it before on other blog posts and I was excited to finally using the board to pick out our dishes based on the main ingredient. With a choice of a five or seven course menu, we opted for the former, especially given the very substantial canapés we’d enjoyed.
It was a tough choice as we both like most things so we eliminated most of the dishes with big supplements and the less exciting ingredient such as onion and chicken and we’d soon whittled it down to five. We chose to go ahead with the wine pairings too so that we were really getting the full restaurant experience.
Though I’d never tried Hélène Darroze’s food, her reputation proceeds her. Having started her career working under Alain Ducasse, argueably the world’s best chef, at Le Louis XV in Monaco after the chef persuaded to leave her office role at the restaurant and enter the kitchen. It was in 2008 that she took over the restaurant at The Connaught, and the has retained two Michelin stars there since 2011. Hélène also has a Michelin star at her eponymously named restaurant in Paris and she has been named Veuve Cliquot World’s Best Female Chef in 2015.
The trio of amuse bouche was beautifully presented and totally delicious. Including beef tartare fashioned into mini ice cream cones.
Neither of us are big fans of oysters but the flavoured foam made the dish a little more palatable.
And eel delicately balanced on two puffs of bread.
Our first glass of wine came in a bottle nearly as big as the sommelier and was a delicate white that paired well with a fish starters.
Flavoured chilli butter and ham accompanied warm fluffy bread with a perfectly chewy crust that was more than a little addictive.
Unintentionally, Mr S and I ended up with nearly identical menus…we were are soul mates after all…The meal kicked off with perhaps my favourite dish of the day.
An excellent blue fin tuna sashimi which was accompanied by blobs of avocado and daikon and a delicious salty broth. The high fat content of the tuna meant the flavour was exceptional.
The next course was a beautiful fat scallop with a perfect char, and Asian flavours of tandoori, carrot, citrus and coriander. The provenance of the ingredients are of prime importance to the chef and the source of each product is noted on the menu, in this case it’s from Davy Price in Scotland.
As with the food, the decor of the restaurant is elegant, with wood panelling and a glass installation representing the ingredients on the menu.
Our next mutual choice was the cod also sourced in Scotland surrounded by a creamy pool of potato, oyster and dill.
I loved the presentation of the final fish dish, a perfectly cooked turbot accompanied by a leek and a delicious champagne sauce. The beautiful gold plate added another element of luxury to the dish.
The venison was the perfect winter dish, high quality meat from the Rhug Estate, the meat was accompanied by pumpkin, Stichelton (cheese), chanterelles and a tasty peppery sauce.
Dessert was the only dish where we forked. I chose ‘citrus’ on the solitaire board and I presented with a light palate cleansing dish of citrus fruits, yogurt and almond.
Mr S chose chocolate and was rewarded with ingredients sourced from Venezuela, a chocolate cake with hints of lemon grass and a decorative silver leaf.
Our final dish was also a little gift to celebrate the our special occasion, a really thoughtful final touch that ended our meal on a very special note.
Good things come to those who wait and I’m so pleased that I saved our dinner at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught for such a special occasion. Here’s to the next six years!
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Hélène Darroze at The Connaught
020 3147 7200
We visited Hélène Darroze at The Connaught independently though we were hosted in The Connaught Bar for drinks and canapés