Corrigan’s Mayfair: 5/10

(by susie)

I have to admit I walked in to Corrigan’s feeling flustered and impatient. Prior to arriving I’d been standing on the concourse at Waterloo station desperately trying to get hold of the restaurant as I wanted to explain to my host that I was running late. After finally managing to speak to someone on reception, I was first put on hold, hold inexplicably turned into an answer-phone message, and the answer-phone message cut me off. After several more attempts I found myself speaking to a different person at what turned out to be central booking who tried, and ultimately failed, to put me through to Corrigan’s Mayfair.

Anyway, having finally arrived and made my apologies, I was poured a crisp, apple-scented glass of Benoit Lehaye NV champagne by a charming waiter, and things began to look up. Corrigan’s is a smart and bustling restaurant with crisp white table linen, luxurious leather seating in deep duck-egg blue, gilt-panelled walls and well-judged lighting. On a Thursday lunchtime it was full of mostly suited men and smart middle-aged couples – the sort of diners who I imagine don’t consider the recession when they go out for lunch.

I was with a small group of ladies and we were celebrating a significant birthday, hence the rather nice fizz. Canapés were already on the table when I arrived and consisted of deep-fried balls of goat’s cheese and spicy green olive – which were delicious – and little pastry disks, again with a spicy kick.

There were also couple of different types of very good freshly baked bread on the table, though I’m not sure exactly what they were. When our order was finally taken (it took quite a while) I went for Clare Island smoked salmon, mozzarella and capers (£14.50), followed by poached haddock with Indian spiced pilaf rice (£24.00).

I ordered the salmon dish partly out of curiosity. On paper it seemed a slightly odd combination of ingredients and, although I’d liked to have been proved wrong, it didn’t really work. The quality of the individual ingredients was superb; milky mozzarella with a thin crusty exterior, meltingly soft smoked salmon and tangy capers – but together, not a harmonious mix.

The spiced rice pilaf that was part of my main course was beautifully judged and was made even more delicious by the addition of a light, creamy curry sauce that was poured from a silver jug by one of our waiters. The haddock sitting on top was fine, though not as tender and moist as I would have liked.

We ordered a Greek white to follow the champagne – Hatzidakis Assyrtiko Cuvée No.15 2007, from Santorini – and it was the highlight of the meal, deeply coloured and with fabulous acidity, it was packed with luscious lemony flavours and shot through with a core of delicious, nutty minerality.

Although the list of puddings was awfully tempting, in true female fashion we all went for coffee and herbal tea and then leapt on the petit fours – a selection of (fabulous) chocolate truffles, pale lemon marshmallows, some (slightly tasteless) little shortbreads, and sugar-coated jelly squares.

Richard Corrigan is a chef I admire enormously and although Corrigan’s Mayfair had its high points, it was ultimately disappointing. It’s a pricey place and overall it didn’t deliver the level of service or food that its customers ought to expect. I had to ask twice for water, the starters took almost an hour to arrive, one of the dishes had to be sent back as it was overcooked, and the food was generally good but not memorable. Maybe we were just unlucky but I’m not sure that at this level luck has any part to play.