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Hélène Darroze at The Connaught

Carlos Place, LONDON, W1K 2AL

5 rosettes

Hélène Darroze arrived at this blue-blooded true-Brit bastion back in 2008, and has gone on to secure its place as a world-class dining destination that bears her own stamp. A protégée of French super-chef Alain Ducasse, who encouraged her to swap the business suit for chef's whites, Hélène Darroze established her presence on the Parisian gastronomic scene with her eponymous Left Bank restaurant before crossing the Channel to re-orient the Connaught kitchen's compass on a more southerly bearing. The principal dining room received a touch of va-va-voom at the same time. The classy makeover by Paris-based designer India Mahdavi ushered in a more curvy, swirly, feminine touch - riotously patterned silver and lime upholstery and colourful abstract artworks - to lighten the Connaught's clubby Edwardian panelling, and it makes a fine setting for Darroze's exuberant creations. This woman has cooking in her DNA: Darroze hails from the Landes region of southwest France and is a fourth-generation chef, brought up with an ingrained respect for quality produce (her family produces its own Armagnac), and here are all the luxurious ingredients anyone could reasonably ask for. Dishes headlined with 'caviar', 'foie gras' and 'Wagyu beef', for example, are marshalled in intelligent contemporary ideas. There's even a bit of fun in the proceedings, when diners' choose five, seven or nine courses from principal ingredients presented on balls on a solitaire board. Each element of every dish has been carefully thought through, as is evident in the bowl of three tortellini filled with sweet onion purée, topped with slivers of lardo di Colonnata and onion leaves, on to which is poured a dashi broth infused with toasted barley. Flavours linger powerfully, as when the heat of a tandoori-spiced scallop is offset by sweet heritage carrots and a sauce of lemongrass and spring onions, or when cod arrives in a picturesque medley with shavings of white asparagus, nettle sauce and a dusting of golden bottarga. The fusion elements also work to potent effect in mains such as pinkly seared veal with its sweetbreads, served with pea beignets, wild leeks and capers in parmesan cream, or turbot with coco beans, seaweed and clams. East Asian seasonings resurface when pineapple is seasoned with lemongrass, black pepper and coconut foam. A delicately constructed chocolate sphere has windows let into it allowing views of the yellow yuzu jelly inside, the whole supported by a layer of salted caramel with cashews mixed in. The service team sing from the same song sheet, and the whole experience is beautifully orchestrated from start to finish. The 1,000-bin wine list, like everything else here, is a class act, with prices that reach some fairly dizzying heights.

Further information

Tel: 020 3147 7200
& 3147 7108
Please quote 'The AA'.
Send an email

Open/closed

Open all year.
Sunday lunch available.

Restaurant information

Cooking type: French
Chef: Hélène Darroze
Number of seats: 60
Accessible for wheelchairs.
Disabled toilets.
Vegetarian meals available.
Children welcome.
Children's portions.

 

Restaurant price guide

Sunday lunch: £45.00-£155.00
Prices are for guidance only. Please check when booking for current rates.

 
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Nearest station: Bond St, Green Park

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