Hélène Darroze is a fourth generation chef in her family and according to Wikipedia, she was the inspiration for the character Collette in the Pixar movie Ratatouille. If that isn’t cool enough, she holds two Michelin stars at her London restaurant and won the San Pellegrino Best Female Chef award in 2015. She is an inspiring woman and when picking a restaurant for our two star Michelin experiment, it was an easy choice.
Located in the beautiful Connaught Hotel, we were warmly greeted by every member of staff we passed by. The dining room oozes class and even though it was a pretty gloomy day outside, inside it felt anything but. The first thing that caught my attention was the stunning crockery and cutlery. Heavy silver and bright geometric shapes on the plates. It’s exquisite!
Presented with what looked like a games board as the a la carte ‘menu’, we were told to pick the ingredients we liked and place the marbles of the ones we didn’t like in the outer rim. There’s also a marble with a question mark, but I can’t quite remember what that one was for. The set lunch menu was simpler, just pick the ingredients from the list and that will be your menu.
Before we started on the menu proper, we were given a trio of amuse bouches. Confit tomato tuille, cheese croquet and pea and mint velouté. The cheese croquet was to die for, the tomato confit was rich and the tuille added a pleasing crunch. The pea and mint velouté was fresh and extremely tasty. There were also a few pieces of jamon that had been cut table side for added theatre.
My first choice was Tomato. Burrata, basil, Taggiasca olive, almond. What could it be? A creamy chunk of burrata, foam, basil sorbet and a tomato concasse. The basil sorbet was unexpected, but delicious. The whole dish was extremely refreshing and I really enjoyed it.
The Better Half (TBH) went for Lobster. Broad beans, courgette and girolles. The way the menu is written, it really doesn’t give any clue to what the dish could be. How pretty is this though? Big chunks of lobster, lobster foam and discs of courgette, I’m told it tasted as beautiful as it looked.
Next, I chose Halibut. Clams, calamari, flat bean and lemongrass. Halibut is a recent discovery for me and I really love it. It’s buttery and the flesh is firmer than most other white fish. This time, it was my turn for bold statements. I declared this the best fish dish I have ever had! The calamari was extremely tender, like a hot knife cutting through butter. The clams had a slight hint of garlic to them and the flat beans were nice and crunchy. And that lemongrass sauce? If we hadn’t been in such beautiful surroundings, I would’ve licked the plate clean! Every mouthful was pure heaven and I was disappointed when I finished it.
TBH had Beef for his main course with asparagus, radish and bone marrow. The pieces of beef I tried were excellent, caramelised on the outside and almost rare in the centre. The bone marrow, were little nuggets of beefy deliciousness and the asparagus adding a lovely earthiness to the dish.
We usually share desserts. I’m not the biggest sweet tooth, but TBH happily obliges as it usually means he gets to eat two desserts. We chose chocolate with tarragon. I just had a small taste of this one as I am not a fan of tarragon but the mousse it came with was incredible. Would you just look at that silverware!?
The other dessert was Vanilla. Almond, black currant and violet. It turned out to be a vanilla pannecotta with a black currant macaroon. Almost too beautiful to eat.
And then there was more. A Greek yoghurt ice cream followed by a stand with choux pastry and Rosemary and more of those delicious black currant macaroons. Last but not least we were given little boxes with a canelé to take home. TBH was thrilled. We have often made special trips to a Sunday food market just for canelé’s and now he was getting some from a Michelin starred restaurant.
Service was absolutely top-notch and I learnt that the team have all worked together for a very long time. They all work the same shifts and take their holiday at the same time. This is a well-oiled machine! Our total bill came to £151.88 including drinks, service and a supplement of £8.00 for the lobster course. The set lunch menu is priced at £38.00 per head.
I have chosen Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester for our three Michelin star experiment. He is one of the most decorated chefs in the world, so I’m excited to see if this will be an even more elevated experience than the one we’ve just had at Hélène Darroze. Unfortunately we have to wait until the beginning of September as the restaurant is closed for most of August for their summer holiday.
Until we eat again!