Celeb chef Tom Kerridge’s first London opening is slightly off the beaten track between Embankment tube and Trafalgar Square, but his fame and reputation should ensure that this outpost within the Corinthia Hotel becomes as covetable as his two Michelin-starred Marlow gastropub The Hand and Flowers.
David Collins Studio has done its best to make the high-ceilinged space (formerly Massimo’s) feel more intimate, with diners grouped around clubby leather banquettes, but clattery acoustics can make conversation a tad difficult and some readers have been underwhelmed by the ‘pubby’ vibe.
However, there are no quibbles when it comes to the “sublime” food delivered by Kerridge’s kitchen brigade. The menu naturally includes a few treasured H&F classics, which are lovingly reproduced but also tweaked to telling effect: the signature glazed omelette of smoked haddock and Parmesan, for example, is winningly pimped up with lobster, the meat so sweet that the fabulously decadent concoction eats like a soufflé.
Other ideas arrive newly minted but showcase Kerridge’s talent for invigorating classic British cookery without losing any of its lip-smacking gutsiness. A pig’s cheek pie is basically a pork pie by another name, but the buttery pastry lifts it into another realm entirely, while a devilled sauce (taking the place of mustard) is there to cut through the richness. By contrast, a brown butter tart with buttermilk ice cream is a pure and simple sweet delight.
Pre-theatre menus should appeal to show-goers from the Strand, while bar snacks such as venison sausage rolls and Welsh rarebit are another budget-minded way in. To drink, draught beers, gins and 20 English sparklers keep the flag flying for Britain; elsewhere, a big-ticket wine list shows the benefit of hotel funding.