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Helene Darroze at the Connaught, Mayfair, fantastic Poulet Du Dimanche & marble madness

So after reading a fantastic review of the Poulet Du Dimanche in the great www.samphireandsalsify.com blog I suggested to my lovely wife that it might be a great place to celebrate my birthday. Knowing it would be busy she booked well in advance and thus the week of my birthday and with baby G occupied at my mum's we set off for our chicken feast at the Connaught. I was looking forward to this as I'd never eaten in the Connaught before though I had previously enjoyed some excellent cocktails in their bar. The idea behind the Poulet du Dimanche is a 6 course menu centred around the roast chicken that Helene Darroze enjoyed at her grandmother's table growing up. Obviously with this being a 2 michelin star place you get a bit more than just roast chicken. I liked this idea as I've found when eating at a top restaurants I always have a bit of trepidation that I won't get the ingredients and effort that has gone into my meal. After a nice aperitif in the lounge we were ushered into their classic looking dining room and shown to our table. The lush carpet allowed the brigade of waiters to glide around the full dining room gracefully. As well as the poulet du Dimanche they were also serving their conventional tasting menu. This involved the kitchen creating a menu around ingredients guests picked out on a tray of marbles. Certainly a high concept and certainly beyond our neighbouring table who managed to knock one tray all over the floor leading to panicked waiters scrambling around to catch marbles.  

Our meal was much more straightforward. We were offered some lovely amuse bouche to start with including some excellent ham carved by a bright red slicer they wheeled around from table to table. The first course proper was "oeuf sortit du cul du poulet" which translated means egg out of the chicken's arse. it was actually a confit egg yolk served in a Parmesan emulsion sprinkled with lovely Alsace bacon. This was rich and unctuous as you can imagine. To follow was their take on chicken soup which was a superb chicken consomme poured over vegetables and a ham ravioli at our table. It was sublime, easily one of the best soups I have tasted. Next up was liver royale which was a dish combining the juicy chicken oyster with a beautiful prawn and a rich chicken liver pate. Then out they wheeled the main event itself the roast chicken with it's feet still on garnished with a dramatic sprig of herbs. It smelt amazing. The Head water carved it at our table. The skin had been stuffed with truffles and morels intensifying the flavour. I have to say I was a bit disappointed they served us the breast and then wheeled it away. Michelin star or not I would have been very happy to take it to pieces myself at the table and polish it off. It was served with potato, boudin blanc and leeks it was an awesome plate of food. Following this the chicken returned, the leg meat having been made into the filling for a light but spicy tortilla. It was a great end to the savoury part of our meal.

Next up came the trio of desserts which were epic. These were all based around eggs. We were presented with an un-feasibly large mound of soft, freshly baked madeleines. These were so good I took a few home for baby G. There was also a superb creme caramel tart which was sweet, sticky and soft. However for me the show stopper was the ile flottante. The waiter bought over a huge tureen full of the creamy custard sauce then topped a generous serving with fluffy light meringue. The creme anglaise was so good and refreshing I wanted to climb into the tureen. They also bought me out a little birthday plate with chocolate and lemon cream which was sweet but superfluous after such a great meal. It was a wonderful meal, not cheap once you add on wine, coffee, aperitif and after dinner drinks but so well thought out and paced.  We were utterly satisfied and happy. However I couldn't say that about the table next to us who had started their meal with a marble mishap and had steadily got worse. The create your own menu had caused a problem when one of the party forgot what he ordered and then didn't like what was presented necessitating a swift replacement by the kitchen. I could see the head waiter getting more and more exasperated. This culminated in their dessert where there was again confusion over what was ordered leading the head waiter to lose it somewhat. A bit of a row ensued ending with the woman hosting,  who was treating her father to a birthday lunch, bursting into tears. As we were sat next to them we couldn't help but watch this car crash unfold. They left before us, I imagine their meal was comped to some degree. All rather unnecessary and I have to say largely down to the daft gizmo of ordering off a plate of marbles. The food here is amazing so why not showcase it in a proper menu. Choice is all well and good but I feel at this level people just want the kitchen to take control. So if you are looking for an amazing weekend treat book yourselves in for the sublime Poulet Du Dimanche which is marble free!     

The A Little Dave Time Alternative Summer Season

The A Little Dave Time Alternative Summer Season

Shotgun, Oxford Circus, nice spot but a fit out fail