Saturday, 26 February 2011

Helene Darroze at The Connaught - 23rd February 2011

The Helene Darroze restaurant is located in the Connaught Hotel in Central London. The restaurant serves French cuisine and has just received its second Michelin star. Since we have already experienced a few two Michelin star restaurants, we were expecting this one to be on a par with those that we have already been to.

As we entered the restaurant during a busy lunch service, we could tell immediately that this establishment was not going to be children friendly. Nearly every single person in the room was clad in suits and ties, making it hard to distinguish the waiters from the customers. The restaurant itself seemed to take inspiration from nature. Each piece of cutlery was designed like fish scales, the central light was shaded by a leaf pattern and a huge painting of butterflies and flowers was hung on the wall. The walls did look a little dull, as they were made of dark, ornate wood.

After around half an hour of sitting patiently at our table, we had still not been offered drinks or menus. It became clear to us that efficient service was not this restaurant’s forte and I had finished my glass of Coke by the time they came round to taking our food orders. We had been in the restaurant for an hour and a half by the time our starters arrived along with our bread. The bread was cold and rock hard. My dad and I had ordered the foie gras in mulled wine and wine jelly. This was in fact a foie gras pate, and although it was beautifully presented, it was unspectacular. The so-called mulled wine was in fact a cluster of fruits next to a cylindrical brandy snap with mincemeat inside it. My brother had chosen venison parcels with a Stilton emulsion. He said that whilst it was not incredible, the balance of flavours was very impressive. Despite two waiters passing our table at least three times each, neither of them even noticed my empty glass. Almost two hours into our meal and a waiter finally spots the empty glass. We heard one of the people sitting at our neighbouring table complain about the sluggish service. I was really infuriated and bored by the painfully slow service.

Venison parcels
Foie gras

Our main courses finally arrived. My dad and brother had both chosen what we took to be an exotic take on scallops. Whilst my brother thought that the fusion of endives, radicchio, macadamia nuts, teriyaki jus and Stilton emulsion worked, my dad was unsure and thought that it was pretty average. My wild turbot with Iberico ham, coco beans and intense piperade jus seemed to be the better choice. The waiter filleted the fish on a wooden preparation board in front of me and I thought this was a nice touch. The fish was well cooked, went well with the ham and the jus gave it a subtle tangy flavour. However, in the middle of eating a piece of the turbot, I felt a sharp pain just behind my front teeth. Shockingly, the waiter had not filleted the turbot properly and had left a bone. This was a huge blow to the dish and the whole experience. Disappointing. 

Our desserts arrived after another long wait. My dad had chosen not to have any dessert and asked instead for the bill. My brother had chosen a chocolate dessert with citrus fruits. Chocolate and any tangy flavoured food generally go quite well together and according to my brother, this was no exception. I had chosen champagne rhubarb, with citric meringue and citric cream. Finally, something extraordinary; the meringue was brittle and tasted fantastic, the cream was gorgeous, the rhubarb was delicious and it was all presented brilliantly. When the bill did not arrive for another twenty minutes or so, we asked for it again. The bill eventually arrived at the 4th time of asking. It seemed a shame to end the experience on a low, since the desserts were incredible. 

Chocolate dessert with citrus fruits
Champagne rhubarb

Food quality 7/10
Presentation 9/10
Service 5/10
Ambience 8/10
Value for money 5/10

Overall 34/50

For a two Michelin Starred restaurant, this was extremely disappointing. Service was painfully slow and the waiters were unfriendly and unhelpful. The food was unspectacular (for a 2 Michelin starred restaurant) and since it was more expensive than The Ledbury, value for money was extremely poor. A very disappointing experience and I would probably not go again.

Author - CT (aged 12)

Photography - LT (aged 14) & DT (aged 39)

Hélène Darroze at the Connaught on Urbanspoon


  1. We were similarly under-wowed with our meal there. Nice write-up and photos by the way! You write and photograph better than most adults :)

  2. Thanks to Laissez Fare for pointing me here.

    I'd have been furious at those long waits, and I have to say, from your timings, I'd have given service a lot less than 5/10.

    Waiting half an hour before even menus and drinks are offered is outrageous for a restaurant of this calibre, let alone the rest of the long delays!

    Great review!

  3. Thanks!! Dad says he is taking us to Yauatcha and Blue Elephant soon. Will post more reviews then.

  4. Booked in next week for the tasting menu with wines.Hope its a good one.Will post pics and write up on my blog.
    Nice photos , top marks to the snapper.