It was a chilly evening when my dining guest and I made our way to Corinthia London, a luxury hotel and celebrity hotspot located in central London. The imposing arched entrance welcomed us as we walked inside and were greeted by the extraordinary architecture that the building is known for. Covid safety protocols were in full swing with all staff members wearing masks and tables at a safe distance from one another.
This, however, did not deter from some of the warmest service I’ve experienced in a fine dining restaurant. From the sommelier who gave us vineyard tips for the Romanian road trip we were planning, to our server who did his job with utmost professionalism and built a great rapport with us as he revealed his favourite dishes on the menu, the warmth and passion of the team at The Northall shone through.
After we had got settled and were done gawking at the gorgeous dining room we were in, with its leather banquettes, modern lighting fixtures hanging from the incredibly high ceiling, and impressive white columns, executive chef André Garrett came up to say hello and have a chat with us.
A veteran of Michelin-starred kitchens – Garrett has worked at Chez Nico, The Orrery, Galvin at Windows, and, most recently, Cliveden House – and a multi-award-winning chef, Garrett talks about his food with a calm confidence and a genuine love for his job and the industry that he works in. “The Northall is such a beautiful dining room, and it deserves the best food possible. As a team, we have worked hard, both in the kitchen and front of house, to bring a feeling of modernity to this grand hotel restaurant,” he explained.
For starters, my husband had the pressed terrine which had a combination of rabbit, ham hock, and duck liver and was served with a fruit chutney to cut the fattiness of the meats. Though some may be put off by terrines because of their texture, Garrett’s version is silky and rich with just the right punch coming from the fruits. The dish was paired with a Grüner Veltliner, a medium-bodied white with a dry finish from the husband-and-wife-run wine estate Ebner-Ebenauer in Austria.
I decided to begin with the cocotte of Scottish lobster with Girolle mushrooms and baby spinach, which I still dream of to this day. I can still remember the way the creaminess of the dish played beautifully with the umami flavour of the girolles and the saltiness of the lobster. The delicate seafood could have easily been overpowered in this dish, but instead the lobster flavour was elevated. What brought the seafood out even more was the paired wine, a Chardonnay from the Domaine Jaeger-Defaix winery in France’s Rully Premier Cru region.
The server then walked over with a plate that was enveloped by the smell of fresh truffles. “The chef insisted you try the strozzapreti,” he said. Though the heavenly shaved truffles on top were hard to resist, what really made this dish was the sauce that the hand-cut pasta was cooked in. A classic French ‘daughter sauce’ – with its mother being the velouté – sauce suprême is made with stock thickened with cream and provided a delicious unctuousness to the dish. To say we were thankful that the chef made sure we tried it was an understatement!
For our main courses, we had the Norfolk black leg chicken, on the chef’s recommendation, and the fillet of beef with a carrot chard leaf and a Damson Port puree, with a Caesar salad and fondant potato as sides. Both dishes were finished tableside, which allowed us to enjoy the aroma of the rich sauces. Both were incredibly tender with each component complementing the other and the sauce tying everything together – a testament to Garrett’s classical French background. We were delighted to find out that one of our paired wines for the mains, the rich and fruity 2016 Botrosecco was produced by the Antinori family, the same producers of the wines we had very much enjoyed at the Osteria di Passignano on a trip to Tuscany a few years ago. The bright and tangy tartlet with lemon curd, poached citrus, and sorbet helped to lift our palates to end the meal.
With regards to the year ahead, Garrett said: “I hope that this year brings about a sense of renewal and growth, especially for the hospitality industry. We still have a very uncertain time ahead and it won’t be easy, but our focus will be on our product and making it the best it can be and being ready to create really special moments for our guests the minute we re-open.” With The Garden being the perfect spot to enjoy outdoor drinking and dining come April 12th, it does indeed seem like we won’t be waiting much longer for this to happen.
Address: Corinthia, 10a Northumberland Ave, Westminster, London WC2N 5AE
Phone: 020 7321 3100