A visit to Helene Darroze has been on my list for quite a while so therefore I was thrilled when I was finally able to dine their on Saturday evening during our weekend stay at Claridges Hotel. After a short walk we arrived at the Connaught Hotel. We made our way to the restaurant reception desk where we received a lovely greeting from Maitre'd Lena who after a little chat escorted us personally into the restaurant. As we entered it was nice to see the stunning refurbishment with it's orange and lemon theme that had taken a couple of months to complete. We were then in for a surprise as Lena showed us to the New Armagnac Room which is a small private dining area for a maximum of three people. I have to say the room looked beautiful. We was then given an amazing opportunity to become the first customers to dine hear or we could have a table in the restaurant. Well the opportunity to dine in this gorgeous room was to hard to say no to so therefore we gladly accepted. So we took our seats and looked forward with anticipation of a great evening ahead.
We started with a delightful consommé & snacks before being shown the menu. The menu itself is a Tasting Menu where each guest can have the freedom to create their own menu. You could either have a five course including one dessert or a seven course including two desserts with also the added option of a cheese course. We decided on the seven course as you can have two desserts :). Once we had each chosen our courses it was time to meet the sommelier and discuss the wine. We decided that we would like to have a bottle to take us through the first four courses and then a glass with the main course to which he recommended a nice selection for us to choose from. Our decision in the end was a Gasper Malvazija wine from Slovenia which was a nice golden colour with tropical fruit & almond aromas.
Before the arrival of our first course were given some fabulous bread and butter which continued the orange and lemon theme.
So now let's begin with the first course where we both decided to start with the Crab. This was Brown & Spider Crabs , pomelo , lampong peppers & txangurro which was absolute heaven. For our second courses my wife chose the Foie Gras with sancho pepper , pear , apple , Komi rice & sake. My choice was the Smoked Eel with cocoa bean , sage & black garlic and both dishes were so flavoursome that you couldn't wait for what was to follow.
Now it was onto our third course and for this my wife chose the Smoked Eel whereas I decided to choose the Hake with black pudding , jerusalem artichoke & sorrel which for me personally was the highlight of the evening as the black pudding with the hake was a perfect combination. Before we moved on to our next course there was a another little surprise as we were presented with a fantastic Scallop with tandoori spices , a carrot & citrus mousseline , a buerre noisette sauce with coriander that Helene wanted us to try and i have to say it was definitely the best scallop dish I've ever had the pleasure of tasting.
We then moved on to our fourth course where my wife chose the Turbot with leek , caviar & dill. I decided to choose the Sweetbread which are one of my favourite things to eat. This came with cauliflower , hazelnut , grape & vadouvan emulsion. These were once again another two exceptional dishes.
For our fifth and final course from the savoury we both decided to choose the Venison this is served rare with butternut squash , stichleton , juniper & black trumpet and although we wouldn't normally eat meat rare I have to say for this course it just worked perfectly. The venison was also matched with two excellent choices of red wine by the sommelier.
Now it was time to move onto desserts which we started with the Grapefruit with pistachio & greek yoghurt. This was followed by the Chocolate with earl grey tea & bergamot. We also received another surprise as along with these desserts came the Signature Baba with chestnut mousse & a granny smith apple sorbet and with a different flavour Armagnac on each half and although I'm not a fan of Baba this was definitely the best one I've tried.
We then finished with coffee and petit fours which included a small dessert with a belated birthday wish on it as I couldn't come then due to the refurbishment that truly rounded off one of the most memorable dining experiences we ever had.
I'd now like to say a few Thanks firstly to Lena for the lovely greeting and giving us the amazing opportunity to dine in the Armagnac Room. To the staff for their excellent service , the sommelier for fabulous wine selection , the Restaurant Manager Mirko for popping in throughout the evening to make sure everything was ok. It was also good to see our friend Alessandro from our holidays in Viareggio who hasn't long started at the restaurant so we wish him well. We really were made to feel like royalty and for this we will be eternally grateful. It will now come as no surprise when I say that I would highly recommend a visit to Helene Darroze as the dining room is stunning and the food , wine & service was first class.
Thank You to everyone at Helene Darroze and I can't wait to see you all again soon