Archive for September, 2011

Corrigan’s, Mayfair

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Dining fatigue. It’s a disease I never imagined would afflict my jowly, portly and contented frame. Yet I piled on a couple more waistline inches at Corrigan’s recently with little spirit and less joy.

I can’t fault the food and, at £27 for three generous courses, it stands up to the Sunday lunch value test, in London at least. The service is also impeccable, if a little sterile. I will take issue with the wine list, which is expensive to the point of leaving you with the distasteful feeling of having been ripped off. £44 for a low rent, screw cap, Blaufränkisch that stings of balsamic and glacé cherries is poor value, even at the “cheap” end of the list.

The decor is a little strange but I guess, in an area of London where you can buy a shotgun and a pair of plaid breeches, from a shop next door to one that sells 7ft high Ming vases, the locals probably feel at home. But I feel justified in my disappointment at the lack of game, and notably grouse, on this late August menu, in a place where dark duck feather lampshades shed amber light over dingy booths (which, a couple of districts to the east would have illuminated illicit poker games), and pictures of Hooray Henries pointing their Purdeys all over the shop with gay abandon adorn the walls.

Sitting eating in Corrigan’s I could have been randomly transmogrified, without even noticing, to The Ivy, Scott’s or The Boxwood Café (RIP), although at least the surviving brace in that list have some defining quirks: In the latter case, the Star Wars shellfish bar, and the former, Gestapo style service.

Talking of service, on vociferous enquiry, I discovered that the mandatory “optional” 12.5% goes to the house, so I hope that, like me, you will have that removed and leave a cash tip.

Apart from that foible, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Corrigan’s if you like this type of stuffy high end dining (and I am far from allergic). I guess I just expected a bit more craic from an Irishman.

If James Bond were to dine in London today, he wouldn’t take his Danish bird to Corrigan’s.  I suggest that, unlike a review quoted on the Corrigan’s website, he might still prefer Scott’s down the road, where he might at the very least meet the ghost of his creator.

Corrigan’s, Mayfair
28 Upper Grosvenor Street,
T: 0207 499 9943

£125.40 plus service for 3 course Sunday lunch for two with wine and coffees.

Perrin et Fils, Rasteau, 2007

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Quite earthy and rich and tasting of beetroot and tomato purée with some plummy fruits and vanilla thrown in, this Côtes du Rhône Villages goes brilliantly with Heinz tomato soup, which if you are over 9, only really tastes acceptable when accompanied by a tipper truck load of ground black pepper and a toasted white pitta bread.

So, having set a British & Commonwealth record for the longest opening sentence on a Confessions post, my mind turned to where I may have procured this very decent tasting bottle, and its pecuniary value, given that I (unusually for me) kept no record, nor scrawled any details on the label, and whether I was also going to set a record for the second sentence, and penultimate paragraph before I ran out of breath and all remaining readers had passed out, so I wantonly speculated that this was probably a £7.50 wine and turned to Lord Google.

It is rather nice, so I shouldn’t have really been so surprised to find it at Berry Bros.  They only have it In Bond (for delivery when?) at £130 per case which is just under £11, but normally one must add shipping and VAT, so maybe my estimate is out by a factor of two?  Hmm I might stretch to that for a couple of bottles, but the price does appear to have been influenced by a Parker rating of 88-90.

Coal Grill & Bar, Exeter

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Compared to London in the best of times and the worst of times, Exeter city is beautiful, but only within a guillotine blade width of the cathedral. And in this tale of two cities, Exeter is almost uninhabited. But like most of provincial England, the restaurant scenery is so familiar and populous it could be Stockport, or Slough,  Scunthorpe or Staines. Desperately avoiding chain store massacres, I chanced upon Coal, which was bucking the trend on a late summer Tuesday evening, in that trade was brisk and I didn’t recognise the name from the FTSE brands directory.


The Blue Bicycle, York

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

A bizarre encounter with some of York’s finest scummy kids, as we walked from our hotel in leafy Clifton past the glorious Minster, meant that we nearly missed our table at the Blue Bicycle, a place recommended by a friend who used to live here. I had expected a smooth passage (both before and after the meal) but, to be honest, the bottom feeding teenage toe-rags that I almost ended up having to punch away from us, left me wondering whether there is a city in this country that is safe to cross on foot. Where could I have been more surprised to learn this than the twee and ancient Roman city of Eboracum?

By contrast, the interior of the Blue Bicycle is very Bohemian with ultramarine water glasses, Van Gogh sunflower coloured walls, and Lautrec painted mirrors. A little reminiscent of the label of a Hahn Estates Cycles Gladiator wine, and no doubt inspired by the same genre of painting.


Domaine Tempier, La Migoua, 2006

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

And while we are on the topic of barking mad wines, I’ve had a variety six pack of Domaine Tempier in the rack for a while now.  Meanwhile, the perfect wine marriage for beans on toast remains unconsummated in my experience. Can you see what’s coming?


Hochar, 2003

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

The wines of Château Musar are often thought of as a tad barking mad. At #EWBC 2008 in La Rioja, delegates were presented with a blind tasting. Not one person out of 50 odd wine buffs got even close to identifying this Lebanese woofer. So is it really so weird?

Hoch aye the NOO!

I bagged a bottle of the second wine, “Hochar” 2003 from the Wine Society at a reasonable £10.50.

It tastes like a cross between a Bordeaux and a Burgundy. Very subtle and fine tannins, some barnyard, and loads of fruit. A Pinot Noir on speed? The Bordeaux is represented by cherries and cedar wood.

Trouble is, it is not even close to barking mad. Actually it is quite classic French. But, it is priced at French levels, and that makes it a direct competitor.

If I am wrong, I have a couple of bottles of the first wine in my cellar which I can’t wait to try. If I am right then maybe I shouldn’t drink it at all, instead focus on finding the right moment to sell at enormous mark-up to a Chinese speculator, who will probably end up enjoying it with Coke when the fine wine market finally implodes.