Well this year has just flown past! To celebrate our first wedding anniversary we flew down to London for a celebratory getaway. Neither of us have spent much time there in the past so this was as good a reason as any to go and act all touristy for a few days. The focal point of the trip was a fancy 3 course lunch at Richard Corrigan’s eponymous Mayfair restaurant.
I couldn’t go to London and not go somewhere special to eat and I’m a big fan of Richard Corrigan’s style of cooking, as well as his book The Clatter of Forks and Spoons. The restaurant does a set menu deal of £27 for three courses on a Sunday, which sounded like fantastic value so I swiftly booked a spot. Now, for £27 on a Sunday I’m under no illusions that it’s going to be the man himself cooking my lunch – my guess is that the head chef gets the day off and the younger chefs get to try out some new dish ideas on the Sunday lunch crowd. I’m cool with that.
After spending some time walking down the Mall and then taking photographs for people outside Buckingham Palace, we wandered through Hyde Park towards Mayfair and arrived a wee bit early for our booking. The restaurant was still quiet, so once greeted by the friendly staff we were led to our table and soon had some drinks and some menus in our hands. We made our choices and then were handed what was, to me, a quite daunting wine menu. I quickly realised I was out of my depth and sought help from the sommelier. For someone more used to pub dining this conversation was one of my anticipated stress points. Thankfully the sommelier was great, as were all the staff during our visit. She didn’t pressure us, simply discussed what we’d ordered and what our budget was and made a couple of recommendations. We chose a 2011 Crôzes-Hermitage ‘Les Pontaix’, Domaine Fayolle, a white wine which to my fairly uneducated palate tasted great.
While we were perusing the wine list the first edible item arrived on the table. A small loaf of bread baked in a flower-pot with a golden slab of butter alongside it. Now I don’t do a lot of baking but I do appreciate a good bit of bread. This was a VERY good bit of bread. Quite possibly the best bit of bread I’ve ever had. We were quite depressed when it was finished and glared longingly at the other tables as theirs got delivered.
Soon enough we were distracted from our bready reverie by the arrival of the starters. A country terrine (suspect mostly rabbit) for my lovely wife and a crab bisque for me. The terrine was great but the bisque was superb. Amazing depth of flavour in the soup and it came accompanied with a couple of toasted sandwiches filled with white crab meat. Dipping the toasties into the soup resulted in much happiness.
Mains arrived and – I went for middle white pork with slow roasted carrot and black pudding, Ange had pheasant with a game sausage roll. Along with the mains there was a few side dishes of fantastic roast tatties, runner beans and cauliflower cheese. The pheasant and it’s gravy were beautiful. The game sausage roll was nice but was a very different flavour to the pheasant. The perfectly cooked pork soft and juicy with fantastic wee bits of crackling was just delicious. The carrot puree, black pudding and a gorgeous slow roasted carrot a magnificent accompaniment. Apart from the roast tatties the sides of cauliflower cheese and runner beans were OK but they just served as padding really. A distraction to space out the morsels of sublime pig.
The desserts of a sorbet selection, and my choice of créme caramel with caramelised pears and hazelnuts, were good but didn’t quite hit the heights of the earlier courses. However some freshly baked madeleines made up for that as we paid the bill.
It would be easy to just leave critical thought at the door for a meal like this but this was seriously one of my best restaurant experiences. A special occasion, exceptional service and superb food. It was the real highlight of our trip and a bargain at £27 per person. Even with the wine it was still good value. Hell I’d have probably paid £30 for that amazing bread!