Posted on Monday, 23rd January 2012
I must confess I didn’t have the best experience when I first tried Corrigan’s Restaurant. Having already eaten at Bentley’s and Lindsay House (Richard Corrigan’s previous one Michelin starred restaurant which now houses Gauthier Soho), I had expected better. But lots of positive comments since have convinced me that perhaps that experience could have been an anomaly. Anyway, things were set right last week when I went to try the spice menu at Corrigan’s which is available until 29 January 2012.
Arum Kapil from the spice company Green Saffron kicked off proceedings by providing us with a short cooking demo in the kitchen and a fantastically informative talk on spices. Arum advocates using fresh spices at all times and buying in small quantities so that they remain as fresh as possible. His love and enthusiasm for fresh spices was extremely compelling. That and all the wonderful aromas we got to smell during the demo now mean all I want to do is cook Indian food!
The Corrigan’s spice menu is available at the bar, and diners can choose 3 dishes for £25, 5 dishes for £35, 7 dishes for £45 and 9 dishes for £55. We started off with Vietnamese oysters which were absolutely divine. As one would expect from a master seller of oysters (think Corrigan’s oyster bar at Bentley’s), the oysters were luscious. And the dressing, with its aromatic hints of ginger, chilli and crunchy deep fried shallots made the dish amazing.
A Cornish crab salad was resoundingly sweet and tasty. The use of cardamom and rosewater provided a lovely, fresh contrast to the crab.
“Lord Lurgan’s” broth with a chicken oyster, bhuna spices and coriander was a touch too salty, but prawns served with spiced chickpeas (the chickpeas being a signature side dish from the Lindsay House days) were wonderfully fragrant.
Roasted lobster was sweet, if a little soft in texture. It came with an appetising sauce made with lots of lovely ingredients such as lemongrass, coconut milk, ginger, chilli, garlic and saffron.
A crisped grey mullet with a panko and parmesan crumb topping, muhammara (a red pepper dip) and romesco relish was lovely. Made with lots of flavoursome peppers, the muhammara packed a rich, punchy flavour.
A dish of hot crispy frog’s legs with garlic and spinach was wonderful. The meat was juicy and tender, and the batter was wonderfully crispy with a hint of spice.
Hardwick mutton Rogan josh was very tender. The sauce was well spiced, rich and creamy.
A kebab a la Turk consisted of lamb and livers. The lamb was extremely tender if a little bland. The livers were very strong in flavour.
To desserts, and the chocolate soufflé with cinnamon was to die-for. I loved, loved, loved the rich, chocolate-y gooeyness of this expertly made soufflé. The sweetness was well judged and the mixture was not too egg-y.
A warm spiced cake with slivers of grapefruit and lemon curd was also fantastic. The spices in the cake gave off hues of wintry warmness. The crust on the cake was also super crunchy which added a wonderful texture to the cake.
I found the spiced ice-cream a bit of an oddity and too powerfully spiced with its use of ingredients such as cinnamon, clove, liquorice, 5-spice and star anise. But despite this, this was truly a wonderful meal.
I still think that the a la carte menu at Corrigan’s is pricey. But this spice menu is a pretty good deal. Nine dishes are satisfying enough for two people and this only costs £55. And those Vietnamese oysters – I would eat those again and again any day.
Food rating: 4/5
Price range: Prices for the Spice Menu are listed above. £40 – £81 for three courses from the à la carte menu. Excludes drinks and service.