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By Alex Martin | March 12 2020
The Chef’s Table is usually reserved for the elite, especially if said table is located inside a two-Michelin-starred kitchen, itself situated in London’s grandest hotel. However, Hélène Darroze at The Connaught is aiming to open its Chef’s Table to the world with the launch of an accessible lunch option.
Lunch at the Chef’s Table, launching this month, gives diners the chance to watch one of London’s most esteemed kitchens in action and experience some of the city’s finest food for a fraction of its usual cost.
Guests are treated to a bespoke three-course menu, including a glass of champagne, canapes and tea or coffee for £65 ($85). Utilizing only the freshest ingredients, the menu will change daily. Diners could be one of the first to taste an experimental new dish from Hélène herself. The world-renowned chef, who also runs the Michelin-starred Marsan in Paris, often travels between the two restaurants.
Uniquely, Lunch at the Chef’s Table is designed to be a communal affair. Guests can book solo seats, or in small groups, and will be joined by like-minded diners on the 10-seat table. By the end of the meal, diners may find themselves with a satisfied appetite and a valuable new business connection.
Elite Traveler was invited to Hélène Darroze at The Connaught to be one of the first to experience the new offering. The Chef’s Table itself is a striking work of art. Designed by acclaimed French interior architect Pierre Yovanovitch, the table is carved from dramatic pink marble.
Different from most Chef’s Tables, there is nothing standing between the diners and the kitchen. The table sits on an elevated platform a few feet from the pass and offers an unrestricted view of the kitchen. It was fascinating to see Hélène inspecting every dish, ensuring it met her world-class standards before it left for the dining room.
The ceiling has been hand-painted in a striking cobalt blue with charming sketches of kitchen paraphernalia by the French artist Rochegaussan. It allows guests to dine under a canopy of graters, pots and pans like stars in the sky and adds a playful ambiance to the Chef’s Table.
The menu was comprised of Hélène’s signature dishes. To begin was a white asparagus dish served with gurnard, whelks, royal bottarga and lilliput capers. The main was a version of a dish she first developed 15 years ago during a trip to India. Veal is cooked in tandoori spices and served with carrot, citrus and coriander. It is impeccably executed and offers an insight into why Hélène has three Michelin stars to her name.
We finish with the restaurant’s signature Armagnac Baba. Hélène Darroze at The Connaught is famed for its Armagnac Bar and stores a wide variety of them. The knowledgeable sommelier offers three different varieties to go with the Baba.
Every meal ends with a cup of specialty coffee brewed in a siphon, the same way that Hélène’s father brewed his coffee during her childhood. Then, it is time to depart. An unforgettable culinary experience squeezed into an extended lunch break.