The idea behind Corrigan’s is most appealing. Richard Corrigan aims to serve seasonal produce in simple dishes that don’t mask their flavour too much. This results in food that is convincing, delicious and easy to like.
Not surprisingly therefore, the classics are done well here. A steak tartar with oysters is particularly enjoyable. Perhaps a tad sweet, the tartar is nonetheless one of the better ones we have eaten in London. Whilst it does not have the depth or intensity of Mikael Jonsson’s paleo-style tartar, the addition of the oyster adds an element that is reminiscent of the beautiful version found at le Jardin des Remparts in Beaune among other places.
Equally enjoyable is smoked salmon, which comes straight from Bentley’s, one of the group’s other restaurants. Smoked on the rooftop-in central London-this is certainly a rarity. Here it is slightly seared and then served with beetroot and cream. Again, a classic combination of flavours, served in a contemporary manner, with perfect seasoning and timing.
Most successful among the starters is a lobster pancake. Given the fair price, it is remarkable that Corrigan’s use native lobster for this, and serve a rather generous portion of it. Topped by two pieces of tail meat, the pancake is filled with the mitts and buttered leeks. Tableside, the manager pours a rich lobster sauce, which gives the whole thing that extra bit of punch. This is a truly delicious dish, which shows what Corrigan’s do so well: appealing, simple dishes.
Eating the “royal hare” in London can be a bit of a rollercoaster experience. Back in the day, Antonin Bonnet used to serve a version that could rival the best in Paris. The Gavroche’s is a little light and that of Koffmann’s somewhere in between. In the latter’s case the price charged is not high enough to really do this dish justice. The version at Corrigan’s is somewhere in between the light version of the Gavroche and the more robust, traditional version of the Greenhouse under Bonnet. On the upside, the ballotine is packed with flavour. If it is a little light as far as the foie gras and truffles go, the remarkably reasonable price explains that. We have rarely had a better ballotine of hare in London. Unfortunately however, the ballotine is topped with wild rabbit and served with a very thin, rather generic sauce. Given that the sauce is one of the elements of this dish that really make or break it, this is a little disappointing. Labour and capital intensive in its confection, it is one of the glories of French cooking. Featuring truffles, foie gras, and lots of red wine, adding the hare’s offal and blood thickens it even more. The result is something that resembles a thick chocolate sauce and is so complex, concentrated and intense that nothing else even comes close to it. Unfortunately, at Corrigan’s the hare is served with a standard jus.
More convincing is a rib of beef with snails. This is perfectly cooked, and comes with the classic garnish of parsley and snails. What stands out here is the flavour and texture of the mea. Combined with the richness of the snails and the combination of the herbal side of the parsley and beautifully flavourful garlic. This is a dish more in line with the starters, and shows just how good this kitchen can be.
Corrigan’s Mayfair is a very good restaurant. It serves some of the best (upmarket) comfort food available in London. Therefore, it fully deserves its Michelin star.