Helene Darroze at the Connaught – The Inspiration Menu 2011.

Helene Darroze at the Connaught  – For a high class, fine dining  Michelin two star restaurant  things are unusually quiet and pretty low key here in the UK for the “Parisienne queen of the cooking scene”. I`ve never seen Madamemoiselle Darroze on the TV before , rarely seen her in the Media and for a 2 star chef these days it`s unusually rare as they all seem to be pretty high key.

I decided to go to the Connaught after browsing through the Good food guide for a classic restaurant `fine food` experience.It had quite a decent write up and it tempted me to research a little more.I downloaded the menus off the Connaught website and one immediately jumped out at me , “The Inspiration menu” , a trip through the regions of France with Ms Darroze.Lobster , Scallop , Foie gras , pigeon…sounded right up my street. I booked in for the `Inspiration menu` and would marry it up with `paired wines` to make it something very special.


The Connaught  is one of Londons grand old five star hotels situated in Carlos place , Mayfair.It first opened as a hotel in 1815 and survived through two world wars and several changes of ownership. It closed down in 2007 and went through a rather costly refurb to the tune of 70 million pounds under the guidance of designer Guy Oliver.He transformed and brought the hotel up to date preserving the traditional values which made the hotel world famous.As for the main reason we were there….`the food` .The 2007 Connaught restoration seen the departure of Chef Angela Hartnett and the arrival of her replacement , French chef Helene Darroze ( ex Alain Ducasse) who would spend her time commuting between London Connaught and her other restaurant in Paris. Ms Darroze introduced new menus and transformed the Connaught dining with her own unique branding and style, every course sounded wonderful , i had to give it a go.
My dining partner and i were a little early for dinner so decided to settle in with cocktails in the lounge bar.We got a couple of good seats in a fantastic nosey position looking out from our little glass conservatory and on to the hotel entrance where we could watch everyones comings and goings.My chosen cocktail was a classic Mojito and it arrived in a huge glass of crushed minted ice with a mini fruit kebab and a selection of nibbles to snack on as we looked through the menus of the evening. Now bear in mind here –  we already had 10 courses on board from our lunch at Roganic but seeing as though that was a couple of hours ago the inspiration menu still had to be the only choice for dinner.We would also choose the `wine flight` to accompany the food….even though there was already a good 6 to 8 glasses down from Roganic…Oh dear.I had my serious doubts after tasting and sensing how much alcohol was in my Mojito, it was loaded but i decided to go for gold and the only way forward was “head down and go for it”.

I`ve decided not to write a lot about this meal and there`s only one reason for that…. Call it age , call it excessive alcohol on the day,  but 4 weeks on i simply can`t remember enough about the courses to describe them.As soon as we sat down to eat , the bread arrived followed by champagne.There was still half a glass of Mojito to finish off , then the Champagne and straight on to the wine flight with the food.To say i was ever so slightly tipsy is an understatement.
Enjoy the photos of each course and if you want more info then im afraid you`ll have to visit another bloggers website. As for the bill….. £600 ish for the two of us….wine being the main culprit ….Again. Don`t tell the Sommelier to “Just match the wine to the food”, it`s a recipe for disaster and a huge bill. Always state your financial limits before ordering….Some of us just never learn.
And so the meal started with a little selection of 3 treats .

Wild Scottish Salmon carpaccio , lemon , capers from Pantelleria , caviar from Sologne , smoked Haddock cream.

Duck foie gras from Les Landes confit in spiced Sangria wine , Sangria jelly , Rhubarb chutney , Fresh Guariguette strawberries and Amaranth leaves.

Pea  veloute , bay leaf infused cream , Confit of salt cod from Bilbao  with pink garlic from Lautrec and Chorizo

Ravioli of line caught Calamari , confit tomatoes , Swiss chards and capers from Pantelleria, black ink reduction , wild garlic emulsion.

Roasted XXL Scallop with Tandoori spices, spring carrot and confit citrus mousseline, spring onion reduction with fresh coriander and beurre noisette.

Pink roasted breast of Pigeon from Raclan flambeed “au Capucin” , glazed beetroots and wild strawberries from Malaga , intense sauce with “Mexican mole”

Selection of fine seasonal cheeses.

                Pre Dessert treat

Bay leaf flavoured pannacotta , Lemon jelly , Gariguette  strawberries ,Almond crumble.

Jivara milk chocolate Ganache flavoured with Orange zest , Hazelnut shortbread , Gianduja biscuit and Tonka bean cream.

More Sweet treats with coffee from the trolley


Hélène Darroze at the Connaught on Urbanspoon

5 Comments Add yours

  1. I most certainly did Ashley but next time…..i`ll limit the alcohol and get a better seat for the pics , light was poor where i was sitting……pics not the best.

  2. mirela says:

    interesant mod de prezentare…

  3. David Tsang says:

    Hi, I love your photos and aspire to produce work of a similar quality. I wonder if I may ask you for some advice. It is sometimes difficult to use a flash in certain restaurants. For example, I was recently asked to stop using my flash at The Fat Duck. I then switched to ISO 800 but the quality of my photos then dropped. Any advice? Cheers.

    1. I never use flash David , flash just washes food pics out and creates horrible shadows which are very difficult to remove.i don`t think many people do use flash to be honest.In restaurants i just have my camera iso set to Auto.iso 800 , it should be fine for your pics, you can also remove any grain on photoshop. I took some pics in virtual darkness in the Witchery restaurant ( Edinburgh ) but photoshop rescued them to the point where they were even used on their website.Shout up if you need any more info. Cheers Alan

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