During the summer months, chef Hélène Darroze has been reimagining her two-Michelin-starred eponymous restaurant at The Connaught, which reopens today with a refreshed menu and interior. “It’s 11 years since we opened, and I wanted not only to make the food lighter but to do the same with the design of the interior,” she says.
The menu will feature ingredients mostly sourced from the UK and consists of small dishes, starting from £120 for five plates (wine pairing is an additional £90, or £195 for a premium pairing from the Coravin vineyard). “The spirit of the restaurant is to show respect for quality cuisine, and I like each dish to tell a story,” Darroze says. This is particularly true of her recipe for Scottish ceps with fresh walnut, snail, lardo di Colonnata and persillade emulsion, which was inspired by the chef’s childhood in south-west France, where her grandfather would return home with ceps he had foraged in the forest, which Darroze’s grandmother would cook with garlic and parsley.
Other dishes to tempt include foie gras, Piel de Sapo melon, Sancho pepper, koji rice and sake; Cornish lobster with tandoori spices, carrots, citrus and coriander; Limousin veal sweetbread, cauliflower, hazelnut and chasselas grape with vadouvan emulsion; and Welsh grouse with beetroot, wild blueberry and Mexican mole sauce. Desserts include Darroze’s signature Baba, made with the family Darroze’s own Armagnac.
The restaurant’s interior has been given a fresh, contemporary sensibility by the French designer Pierre Yovanovitch, who has stripped back the mahogany stained panels to create a lighter, brighter aesthetic. Every detail of the decor has been considered, from the sinuous lines of the blush-coloured sofas to the Swiss blown-glass chandelier, which greets guests in the entrance – conceived from Darroze’s somewhat abstruse brief of “floating chickpeas”. Downstairs, in a roomy alcove overlooking the pass, the new chef’s table – a pink marble monolith set on a Terrazzo dais – will seat up to a dozen guests, with each course chosen from “the pick of the day’s market”. Lunch is priced from £95 for three courses, including a glass of champagne and canapés, and dinner is priced from £195 for seven courses, also including champagne and canapés.