Richard Corrigan came to London in the 1980s and quickly established himself on the city’s restaurant scene, working as head chef at Mulligan’s and later at Stephen Bull’s Fulham Road, where he earned his first Michelin star in 1994. Since then he has gone on to open Lindsay House – which closed its doors in 2009 – as well as buying Bentley’s in 2005 and opening Corrigan’s three years later, on the former site of Nico Ladenis’ Chez Nico at the Ninety, next door to the Grosvenor House hotel.
When opening a restaurant bearing his name, Corrigan was keen that it should encompass his passion and beliefs about food and, as such, he cast the high-end dining rule book aside. His Mayfair flagship is not the place for fussy presentation or bizarre ingredients; instead, diners can enjoy generous portions of rich, seasonal flavours, locally sourced from the British Isles and Corrigan’s native Ireland.
The restaurant is cosy and welcoming, not unlike a hunting lodge, with its wood-panelled walls, oak floor and leather banquettes. With an abundance of private dining rooms in London and particularly within close proximity of Park Lane, Corrigan’s offers elegance without being intimidating. Its rooms are suitable for a business gathering as well as relaxed family dinners or special occasions.
Seating up to 25, the Lindsay Room is the largest, where you can get a glimpse of the kitchen action via the plasma screen that streams live footage. In contrast, the Chef’s Table is perfect for gatherings of up to 12 with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall revealing the kitchen at one end.
My favourite, the Kitchen Library features a small nook that can seat six on a curved, leather banquette from which you look out over the kitchen, again via floor-to-ceiling glass. Lastly, there is the Poet’s Corner with its duck feather-coated lampshades and shimmering fish-scale wallpaper. Situated within the main restaurant, it has a sheer curtain to provide an air of exclusivity for up to 10 diners.
The hunting theme continues on the menu, with a broad choice of game and fish dishes including roast saddle of rabbit with soft polenta and sweetcorn salsa, and wild Scottish salmon with fennel, hazelnut and dill oil. The menu’s focus on hearty, British and Irish food, executed with small twists to keep it interesting, is what keeps members returning.
When we visited, I enjoyed a rich farmhouse terrine, served with toasted brioche and pickled courgette, before moving on to Elwy Valley lamb with spring vegetables. I also tried a little of my colleague’s Iberico pork which was perfectly tender, smooth and very moreish – definitely one to remember for my next visit. The rest of the group enjoyed a mixture of fish including John Dory with Cornish crab, and red mullet with a lobster and red pepper sauce.
Unfortunately none of us could quite manage dessert, but we were treated to a selection of petit fours which provided that little kick of sugar to round off the meal.
The final word
The Corrigan group of restaurants may be small, with only three London outposts including Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill and the Bentley’s Sea Grill at Harrods, but its customers remain loyal to its unfaltering good service and exceptional food, offered at reasonable prices.
One thing’s for sure, whatever the future holds for this Mayfair icon, with classics such as potato and leek soup, the Sunday roast and sticky toffee pudding remaining firm favourites among diners, its owner won’t lose sight of his roots and the vision he first set out with three decades ago.