Tried & Tested

Restaurant review: Jean-Georges at the Connaught, London

28 Sep 2017 by Michelle Harbi
Jean-Georges Vongerichten

BACKGROUND

Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten opened his new restaurant in London’s Connaught hotel at the end of July. Offering relaxed yet high-end dining, it’s open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

The French chef operates more than 30 restaurants worldwide, eight of which are in his hometown of New York, including the three Michelin-starred Jean-Georges in the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle.

WHERE IS IT?

The restaurant is located at the front of the Mayfair property in the space formerly occupied by Espelette – turn left when you enter the hotel. It’s a lovely setting overlooking the water feature out front and the beautiful red-brick buildings of Mount Street.

THE VENUE

The revamp of the space has been led by interior architect John Heah, who has previously worked on sister hotel the Berkeley, and it looks fantastic. Light floods in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, which feature stained-glass panels in shades of red, orange and yellow to represent the passing of the day – from sunrise in the east to sunset in the west. The striking flying saucer-type pendant lights in the curving conservatory section, meanwhile, glow blue at night and represent clouds. This part of the restaurant is particularly romantic when darkness starts to descend outside.

Jean-Georges at the Connaught

Taking its cue from the curved walls, there are few straight lines to be found in the design. Pale grey fabric-upholstered seats and sofas are placed companionably around pebble-shaped black marble tables, with moneyed couples and business people perched upon them. The tables are simply dressed with grey fabric placemats and napkins and plain tea-light holders.

THE FOOD

Vongerichten is known for his fusion of classic French cooking and Asian flavours, and this is reflected in the diverse menu, which also features his spin on British favourites. Dishes thus range from tuna tartare with avocado, radish and ginger sauce (£20) and crispy salmon sushi with chipotle emulsion and soy glaze (£16, pictured below) to fish and chips with petits pois remoulade (£20) and beef tenderloin with glazed and roasted carrots, miso and mustard sauce (£35). There’s also a caviar selection (from £30 to £400) and a few pizzas and pastas.

Crispy salmon sushi, Jean-Georges at the Connaught

To start, we tried the signature black truffle and fontina pizza (£29) – “outrageously good”, as my companion put it, the truffle shaved generously across richly flavoured cheese that pulled away in ribbons as we cut into the light, crisp base.

We also sampled the fresh crab crostini with lemon aioli and dill (£18) – crunchy bread loaded with tangy crab meat, flavoured with a subtle hint of warming chilli – and the heirloom tomatoes and burrata with basil and tomato jus (£15), the cheese as creamy and silky as you would hope it to be, yet retaining a good firmness.

Tomatoes and burrata, Jean-Georges at the Connaught

Moving on to the mains, I had the Cornish Dover sole (£40) – fleshy and substantial, served with plump padron peppers and a lightly whipped, nicely spiced sriracha sauce. My companion’s truffled cheeseburger (£25) was cooked perfectly medium and came with melted Somerset brie, black truffle mayonnaise and yuzu pickles, with none of those strong flavours overpowering the others. A side of sautéed summer corn with manchego and jalapenos (£8) was delicious – crunchy and sweet with a cheesy chilli kick.

We did, believe it or not, manage dessert, sampling the light yet decadent iced milk (caramelised puffed rice, milk jam, milk sorbet and milk foam, £12) and the gorgeous chocolate caramel peanuts (£12) – essentially an extremely fancy deconstructed Snickers, with chocolate streusel, caramel sauce and caramelised peanut ice cream.

Chocolate caramel peanuts, Jean-Georges at the Connaught

THE DRINK

The global wine list is strong on French bottles, with a wide range of by-the-glass options. Our waiter suggested some good pairings, including a 2015 Vermentino Il Torchio Colli di Luni from Liguria (£12 for 175ml). A selection of signature and classic cocktails are also available.

THE SERVICE

Our main waiter was warm, thoughtful and very informed about the dishes and wines, while the team as a whole were professional and attentive.

VERDICT

Ingenious flavours, a luxurious setting and welcoming, intuitive service make this a great spot whether you are looking to impress clients, treat yourself or mark a special occasion.

OPENING HOURS

Breakfast 1am-11am; lunch 12pm-2pm; afternoon tea 2.30pm and 4.30pm; dinner 6.30pm-11pm.

PRICE

Starters £10-£25; mains £15-£45; sides £6-£8; desserts £12. Wines from £11 by the glass; from £39 by the bottle.

CONTACT

Jean-Georges at the Connaught, Carlos Place; tel +44 (0)20 7107 8861; the-connaught.co.uk

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