Hélène Darroze at the Connaught

November 20, 2014

Last night I had one of the most luxurious and decadent dining experiences in my life, and trust me, if there is one thing I know it is luxury and decadence. Mummy was in town, lawyer in tow, to discuss with Henry and I the mechanisms of running a business together, and so it was up to me to pick a place for dinner. After all, nothing facilitates an evening of brain-picking better than good food and good wine in a beautiful, grand, yet intimate atmosphere. 


And so it was in The Connaught, one of the oldest (1815) and best hotels in Mayfair, whose halls were bedecked in a glittering and festive Christmas display, that we glided through to our gastronomical experience for the night... 



...which was Hélène Darroze's two Michelin-starred restaurant. We were greeted by a specially commissioned glasswork installation of bell jars displaying the ingredients of Hélène’s menu, a beautiful exhibition of what The Connaught describes as 'a feast for the eyes and nourishment for the soul'. Gracious and genial staff, all French, ushered us to our table, the centrepiece of the dining room: beneath a behemoth Damien Hirst display of butterflies framed by beautiful wood panelling and floral plasterwork ceiling, the latter two original features of The Connaught's historic dining room beautifully updated with India Mahdavi (who also designed the pink David Shrigley gallery at Sketch where we had tea that afternoon)'s feminine gold interiors. 




We started with peach bellinis while we pondered our fun and interactive menu---a wooden board with marbles inscribed with key ingredients of which we had to pick five or seven to leave in the middle of the menu, the 'discarded' ingredients we left in the hollowed out borders of the board. I must say I've never had this much fun 'losing my marbles'. Naturally ambitious, I chose my seven ingredients: caviar, white truffle, foie gras, pumpkin, venison, and for pudding: chocolate and '?' which was revealed to be Baba Armagnac. 








Tray after tray of bread was brought out to us which I was proud to resist (even the white breads shaped like mandrake roots) as I am determined to lose 15kg in as many weeks. Bread is the first concession to make.


I started with 'caviar': Kristal kaviari caviar with sea urchin, cauliflower, and hazelnut.


Followed by 'foie gras': Robert Dupérier foie gras with chestnut, quince, and pain d’épice.


Henry enjoyed his third course---sea bream with white coco beans, clams, calamari, and parsley.



While I happily shoved pumpkin ravioli with lobster and sage into my eager mouth.


For our fourth course we both enjoyed 'white truffle': a risotto of Acquerello rice and Parmigiano Reggiano with shaved white truffle. So incredibly hearty, rich, and fragrant, but I had to leave some untouched to make way for my fifth course...


...the 'venison': Rhug Estate venison from Wales with Medjool date, pumpkin, and brussel sprouts. 


Henry, ever the devoted pescatarian, enjoyed his dover sole with celeriac, chanterelles, capers, and lemon. By then we were nearly two hours into our dinner and our stomachs were beginning to feel uncomfortably full. Why oh why did I have afternoon tea? And then our first pudding arrived on a tray, flanked with bottles of Armagnac brandy...



...our Baba Armagnac, a brandy twist on the classic rum baba, was cut opened to display a ruby grapefruit and voatsyperifery centre which was then soaked with brandy. The liqueur was too strong for my palate and I had to leave the pudding sadly untouched, instead tucking into the pots of ruby grapefruit jam and cream on the side.


Our second pudding and final course was the breaking point. 


Delicate silver displays bearing chocolate and raspberry macarons were brought out to accompany the 'chocolate' selection: bourbon vanilla ice-cream and chocolate mousse on a bed of crushed coffee beans surrounded by praline. Death by chocolate? Not today. I dutifully cleaned my plate and ordered the chocolate macarons to be packed into a pretty little floral box to take home. In fact I'm in bed now, naked but for my glasses, typing this as I dip my hand into a lovely doggy bag printed in The Connaught's signature florals having chocolate and macarons for breakfast while my loving boyfriend brews me a coffee.

It was a beautiful evening of gastronomical excitement, all the more enhanced by the twinkling Christmas lights of The Connaught, which ended with a much-needed bracing walk across Mayfair. As for our initial goal of brainstorming at dinner, well we did come up with some good ideas, but all of that paled to the artistry of Hélène Darroze, whose skilful cooking, and delicate, precise presentation all enhanced by the knowledgeable and attentive staff made our evening such an delicious, elegant, and memorable one. 

Tasting menus start at £92 for a choice of 5 ingredients including one pudding, with  an additional £70 for wine pairing. A choice of 7 products including two puddings, as we did, is £125 and £98 for wine pairing. Myself, I'm gunning to conquer Hélène Darroze’s 9 products Inspiration menu, but slowly and steadily, one course at a time. Peruse the dinner menu here. x

Photo credits: 2, 45, 6, and 26.

2 comments:

  1. First time visits here, nice blog and sharing, I wish you to have a happy day~ =D

    Regards,
    (A Growing Teenager Diary Malaysia)

    ReplyDelete