Richard Corrigan was born in Dublin and raised in County Meath, just outside the city. He left Ireland at 18, working in various Michelin-starred restaurants in Amsterdam before moving to London and rising to Head Chef at Mulligan’s in Mayfair. He won his first Michelin star as head chef of Stephen Bull’s Fulham Road restaurant in 1994 and his second three years later at Lindsay House in Soho. Corrigan’s Mayfair is his flagship fine dining restaurant – it opened in October 2009 to widespread critical acclaim, and was quickly named London Restaurant of the Year by the Evening Standard. The menu focuses on meat and game – Corrigan’s ethos is all about sourcing good ingredients and preparing them with the minimum of fuss. The decor is very Mayfair – it is smart and extravagant with lots of wood and leather……I pity the poor waitress tasked with ironing all of the white tablecloths.
I went along for Sunday lunch where they offer a very keenly priced set menu of three courses for £29 (possibly one of best value Sunday lunches in London?). For starter I opted for braised rose veal breast with caesar dressing, salad leaves and pickles. I was expecting a warm chunk of veal amidst a hearty salad, but what arrived was quite different. The veal was served cold – it had been pressed, rolled, seasoned and then thinly sliced, it was served along with dollops of creamy caesar dressing and sharp, zesty pickles. The texture of the meat was light and soft, with just the right fat content – a very pleasing dish.
I followed this with roast brill (a flat fish similar to turbot but a tad less refined/pricey), cockles and salsify. The brill was generously sized and came with beautifully crispy roast potatoes and decadently creamy cauliflower cheese on the side. As expected, the fish was very fresh – it was chunky and meaty, yet subtly flavoured and slightly sweet. The outside of the fillet was nicely browned which brought flavour and texture, but for me the fish had been slightly overcooked. The cockles were wonderful – light and not at all chewy, they had been carefully prepared so they didn’t contain a hint of grit or sand. I couldn’t resist the chocolate fondant with Guinness ice cream for dessert – this was executed well with a lovely runny centre and a strong cocoa kick. The ice cream only had a subtle hint of Guinness flavour but worked well with the rich fondant.
Verdict: a decadent, fantastic value Sunday lunch 8/10
‘It’s in the wrong sort of building, in the wrong part of town, with the wrong menu. And yet it’s brilliant’ Giles Coren, The Times
The rooftop cafe is pretty hard to find. It is round near the back entrance of London Bridge station at the top of an innocuous looking office building: you need to buzz to get in, head into a lift, then up a couple of floors of narrow steps and through a few unmarked doors before you eventually arrive at the dining room. The space used to be a janitor’s store and it is a pretty small, with an open kitchen and (oddly) orange-painted roof beams. They have a roof terrace where they grow their herbs and you can dine out there in the summer. It opened in early 2012, and has received a slowly increasing number of favourable reviews ever since, with Giles Coren giving it a great little write up in The Times before Christmas. Head chef Peter Le Faucheur’s menu is short and to the point, it apparently changes daily and it is strictly seasonal (as everyone claims these days, but I believe it here). Pricing is reasonable with starters at £6-9 and mains for £12-19. I started with salt and pepper squid with gremolata (a Mediterranean mix of chopped herbs with lemon and garlic). The squid was served whole, encased in a light, peppery batter and sitting on the bright, zesty gremolata. The cooking of the squid was spot on – it was soft and succulent yet retained a slight crunch; the gremolata added depth and interest. A simple, but extremely well executed dish.
I followed with lamb shank, cabbage and spring onions (£19). This was a massive dish and would have been big enough for two to share – the shank had been cooked really slowly and was so soft that it could have been eaten with a spoon. It had been roasted in Chinese five-spice powder which added a slight Asian slant, the cabbage was smothered in roasting stock and was wonderfully sticky and rich – a heartwarming main course. I had no room for dessert but their bread and butter pudding looks fantastic.
Verdict: An unlikely hidden gem 7.5/10
Adam Byatt has been the boss of Clapham’s culinary scene for over a decade, firstly with Thyme (which opened in 2001, followed by an unsuccessful move to the West End) and then Trinity (2006) – he now has competition though, with young pretenders, The Dairy and The Manor aiming to steal his crown with their scando-hipster ingenuity. He opened Bistro Union a couple of years ago on the gentrified Abbeville Road, a short walk from Clapham South tube station, and quickly won a Michelin bib gourmand as well as a place in Time Out’s 50 top London restaurants. His head chef, Karl Goward previously worked at St. John Bread and Wine and this experience comes through in his menu – the dishes are simple and let the ingredients speak for themselves. We started with brown shrimp, monk’s beard and boiled potatoes (£7) – the shrimps were meaty, and were complemented by the fresh, crunchy monk’s beard. The cooking of the potatoes was good and they added bulk to the dish.
Our second starter was pheasant, blood orange and watercress (£7) – this was light and summery, the bittersweet blood orange paired well with the soft, beautifully pink pheasant. Feeling both hungry and brave, for main course we chose the whole beef rib (£44 for two to share) which came with Bearnaise sauce and thick cut chips. As you can see from the photograph below this was an impressive piece of meat (easily over a kilo). The rib had been cooked on the bone so the meat was very moist, the fat was crispy and melt in the mouth; the cooking was consistently medium-rare across the whole rib. The quality of the beef was very good and I think on par with my recent steak at Hawksmoor – the chips were double or triple cooked, so nicely crispy, and the Bearnaise had a good consistency. My only gripe was that we would have liked a few more chips to complement our hunk of meat.
Verdict: well-prepared, homely classics made with well-sourced ingredients 7.5/10