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France, Asia and Great Britain: from every place she has made it a well from which to draw inspiration
and her creations today reflect its perfumes. But the rigor of the Parisian tradition remains the guiding

The Connaught Hotel in London, in the elegant Mayfair district, has risen to international glory in recent years above all for having reached the apex of the prestigious international list of the 50 Best Bars, under the guidance of the Italian Agostino Perrone and his close team behind the counter, among liters of Martinis (and not only) masterfully packaged for a loyal and curious clientele. But the elegant rooms on the ground floor, among fine boiserie and windows from which you can observe the curious Silence fountain, the work of architect Tadao Ando, also hide surprises for food lovers. Once you cross the entrance threshold, if you turn left, you enter the room occupied by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the award-winning French chef who in London juggles between grilled dishes (now a modern trend embraced by many) and all-day menus dining, while on the other side, to the right (and it was our choice), you end up straight into the arms of a champion of French cuisine, Hélène Darroze.

Originally from the Landes, in southwestern France, Hélène Darroze is now almost a Londoner by adoption. It was in fact back in 2008 when she arrives in the shadow of Big Ben to replace a local glory, Angela Hartnett, in the kitchen. A rich career that saw its highlights in the experience alongside Alain Ducasse at the Louis XV in Monaco starting in 1990. The new millennium, however, brings her the Parisian adventure under her own name in Rue d’Assas, at the helm of a restaurant later renamed Marsan, in honor of her roots (she was born in Mont-de-Marsan), and with a strong gastronomic connotation linked to the family tradition. Even if the gustatory memory perfected over the years has led, perhaps above all in the Connaught restaurant, to a more cheeky style. While on the one hand it shows off the muscles of classic French cuisine, on the other it thrives on non-trivial counterpoints and details borrowed from other cultures, as in the case of peppers and spices which are always judiciously dosed. But let’s get to the dishes. The amuse-bouches that open the dances consist of a tasty triptych, with Porcini and black garlic, corn with Parmigiano Reggiano and the trout tartlet with dahlia petals and citrus fruits.

All interpreted by playing with different peppers. Then we continue with the main menu which first lines up Kristal Caviar accompanied by Scottish scampi, kohlrabi and apple, for a dish present at the restaurant over several seasons, followed by Lamella di Porcino with coconut, Dover snails, bacon and lemon thyme. There is no shortage of slightly exotic hints and Asian or Indian references in the process, but a constant, in addition to the French stylistic matrix, is the great attention to quality local raw materials. Thus the Cornish lobster becomes impertinent thanks to Tandoori spices, citrus fruits and coriander, while the Welsh lamb moves to Morocco between ras-el-hanout, fennel, apricot and spelt. The conclusion of the meal however, after a taste of Dupérier’s foie gras with Piel de Sapo melon, koji rice and sansho pepper, can only be entrusted to a signature of the house, the definitive Baba but not with rum but with Bas-Armagnac signed Darroze (and possibility of choosing between different vintages) embellished with raspberry and Sarawak pepper.

The restaurant room completes the experience with touches of professionalism in an environment without tablecloths and informal tones and the pleasure, in some cases, of plating at the table, as in the case of caviar placed on scampi. It is a room where, moreover, Italian is spoken a lot with the good Mirko Benzo who dictates the rhythms of the service. A monumental wine list, perfect for those who love to dine in front of a Romenée-Conti or at large maisons, but also open to curiosities and less demanding choices, as in the case of some labels from the New World.

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