Kerridge's bar and grill, London: restaurant review
Does a regular diner reach the same conclusion about a restaurant as a food pro, who may get special treatment if recognised?* Chloe Scott-Moncrieff and olive reader Jordan Sheehy compare notes on chef Tom Kerridge’s first London restaurant
About Kerridge’s Bar & Grill, London
Tom Kerridge’s long-awaited first London restaurant (read our guide to the best London restaurants here) opened in September 2018, in a grand corner of the Corinthia Hotel, minutes away from Trafalgar Square. The dramatic, high-ceilinged dining room, in shades of bottle green and ox blood, seats 90, and another 40 in the bar. There’s striking artwork from Tom’s wife, Beth Cullen-Kerridge, including a headless bronze overlooking guests as they dine. When it comes to the food, the menu is a familiar roll call of great British classics (albeit, poshed up a notch) that Tom’s become famous for back in Michelin-starred Marlow (where Tom has three stars among his three village pubs). Try his mushroom ‘risotto’ (made with diced fungi rather than rice and inspired by chef pals Claude Bosi and Daniel Clifford) or glazed omelette lobster thermidor to start. Move on to roast Cotswold chicken or rib of beef from The Butcher’s Tap (back in Marlow) with chips, bone marrow sauce and gherkin ketchup. Finish with brown butter tart and something strong, before the bill arrives.
The pro restaurant reviewer
Chloe Scott-Moncrieff has written for the likes of The Times, Telegraph and Evening Standard for 20 years, of which she was food editor at Metro for seven. She co-founded the Young British Foodie awards. @chloescottmoncrieff
The punter restaurant reviewer
Media executive manager Jordan Sheehy lives in south London and eats out once a week. His favourite cuisine is Middle Eastern and he can’t resist the pork belly tagine at The Palomar.
Our pro’s Kerridge's Bar and Grill, London restaurant review…
Despite his smiley celeb chef image, Tom Kerridge means business. His London debut, Kerridge’s Bar & Grill, is testament to that. With a dining room designed by David Collins Studio, it’s relaxed but simultaneously fancy. A lofty green ceiling, buttoned leather banquettes and glass-fronted meat fridges doubling as statement artwork all whip up a posh pub vibe.
On arrival, we’re taken to a corner table, facing a headless bronze sculpture called Steve. No one bats an eyelid when I ask for tap water. *I don’t think I was recognised.
Next, it’s charming sommelier Charles Beaini’s turn. He suggests a muscat orange wine – one of 2,000 batches, apparently. Dinner kicks off with coronation chicken terrine. This ain’t no ordinary corrie, it’s a showstopper. The chicken gizzards and other poultry parts pack a punch with mango and curry nudges, a blob of celery mayo imparts a slap of earthy freshness. With the apricot and tangerine notes from the wine, it’s impeccable.
My sidekick’s potato and rocket soup with wholegrain mustard and rarebit croûte is another example of technically assured cooking, arriving peppery, creamy and emerald as a spring day.
All eight mains that day came with flesh – a vegetarian would struggle. I pick pig’s cheek pie, a dish playfully resembling a snout. The deep-flavoured suet crust encases fatty, rich pork, the neighbouring creamy mash with flecks of crispy black pud on top is a judicious element. My partner’s fish and chips are nicely made thanks to an airy, crisp batter. Tartare sauce speckled with tangy capers, pease pudding and “Matson” spiced sauce alongside spruce up things further.
For pud, a leaning Pisa of blackcurrant soufflé is refreshing, its rich, sharp blackcurrant tower with a moat of chlorophyll tasting blackcurrant leaf cream. So clever is it, if I shut my eyes, I’m right there, picking from the hedgerow.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This has Kerridge’s DNA all over it, a menu lacking pomposity, with interesting execution of accessible dishes. While some starters hit a jaw-dropping £29, I’d argue the food is affordable if you pick right. There are few places of this ilk you’ll find a three-course pre-theatre menu for £29.50, which my partner had. Considering the delightful service, too, I’d return.
Total bill for two, excluding service: £89.50
Our punter's Kerridge's Bar and Grill, London restaurant review…
Having eaten at Tom Kerridge’s first restaurant, the cosy Hand and Flowers, it’s encouraging to see the same level of attentive service translated to his debut London location. The waiters were knowledgeable about the menu, happily recommending their favourite dishes. The sommelier helped us choose a fruity beaujolais from a varied wine list that, unsurprisingly, considering Kerridge’s history of celebrating produce from all corners of this island, contains plenty of British options.
That theme is reflected in the menu with dishes containing Essex beetroot, Cotswold lamb as well as south coast sole. We started with the Cornish crab vol au vent. A beautifully presented dish, crowned with translucent discs of radish concealing fresh crabmeat encased in golden pastry. Unfortunately, the pastry proved a little too golden, my knife struggling before crashing through onto my plate. Pastry aside, the crab was perfectly sweet and the accompanying bisque deep and velvety smooth. The mushroom risotto topped with a crispy egg, instead of using rice, employs mushrooms diced to the same size and texture – I’m going to side with the Italians and suggest rice works just fine, as the dish lacked the richness a classic risotto offers.
The star dish, a pig’s cheek pie, was stuffed with buttery, gelatinous cheek and doused with peppery devilled sauce. Our other main, the rib of beef, was cooked to a tender pink hue and swam in a silky bone marrow sauce. The chips were a little chewy, which was disappointing having previously enjoyed their crispy cousins at the Hand and Flowers. For dessert a towering blackcurrant soufflé was light, if a little too sweet, while the brown butter tart provided a comforting end to the meal.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Located minutes from the Houses of Parliament, the décor is fittingly lavish – all high ceilings, emerald green walls and leather booths. There’s a definite buzz but it felt a little like somewhere people had come just to be seen. Ultimately the food was good and service exemplary, but there were a few too many wayward elements that, at £95 a head, including service, might put me off returning in the near future.
Total bill for two, excluding service: £170.50